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You may well be aware of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise developed by the Ukrainian studio GSC Game World. If not for the current issues with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’d likely be playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl at this very moment. As it stands, it’s set to launch later this year. The official website gives the option to preorder, and the link lists the 8th of December this year. A screenshot can be seen below, so hopefully fans of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series won’t have long to wait now.

Talking of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. that’s where I want to focus our attention right now. So let’s cast our minds back to 2007 and the debut of this famous and historic franchise.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl is a first-person shooter crossed with survival horror and some RPG elements. You level up and increase or decrease certain player attributes with various artifacts and trading with NPCs. The setting puts us in an alternate reality where we are in the Zone, which is based on the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This reality is set roughly twenty years after the original disaster when authorities tried to repopulate the area. However, a second disaster struck the area, leaving the population either dead or mutated. You start the game by waking up with the title of “Marked One” and a quest to kill Strelok.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow Of Chernobyl In 2023

We can see from the screenshots above that for a game of its age, it looks really impressive. Naturally, character models are dated and probably look the most dated compared to the environment. The outside world looks amazing, especially considering the 2007 age they really got the best out of the X-ray engine. There will be a free fan remake using Unreal Engine 5 like the upcoming sequel.

In terms of how the game plays, the gameplay and controls feel really smooth and not clunky at all. It’s an old game that has stood the test of time. Audio wise the score and sound effects are of a high standard, though not quite as polished as, say a modern game like God of War: Ragnarok. Though if the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has caught your eye and you’re able to pick it up, it’s very much worth your time. GoG and Steam always have sales at various points during the year. The story is decent enough, but don’t expect a Witcher-type narrative. The game excels with the combat, with some excellent gunplay and a downright chilling atmosphere at some points.

The game did get a sequel, so S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 isn’t the first sequel. That was S.T.A.L.K.E.R. : Call of Pripyat, which was released in Ukraine in 2009 and worldwide in 2010. There is also a prequel called S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, which was released in 2008, a year after the original game. If you’re unable to play these but can’t wait to play STALKER 2, don’t worry. There is another game available set in Chernobyl that has a similar feel but is more survival-based. That is Chernobylite and it is out now. It is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. The console versions were upgraded to take advantage of new hardware. As always, we love to hear from you.

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