S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Review
You see the Zone of alienation. Almost deserted, almost lifeless... Now it's the place of anomalies and mutants... There are also stalkers. You're offered to go there too, playing as Major Degtyarev, a Ukraine Security Service agent. The task is simple enough: you should find out what happened with the research expedition recently sent to the Zone. However, first the main character will have to win the stalkers' confidence and find the way to the Zone's center, the city of Pripyat, in order to get the necessary information.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat is the third game of the series which were born back in 2001 somewhere in the depths of GSC Game World (the first game came out only in 2007). The history of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. world begins with the infamous Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster which formed the Zone of alienation around it. Later on, as a result of a failed experiment (in the secret laboratories, of course), the Zone's radiation was accompanied with anomalies - extremely high gravitational, thermal, chemical, electric action.
As if anomalies were not enough, the Zone has given birth to a huge number of mutants (although some of them are the result of experiments in the same laboratories).
So what is so attractive about this unfriendly place? The Zone contains valuable and useful objects - artifacts. Artifacts are formed as organized matter gets into the anomalies and exhibit peculiar properties, such as the ability to neutralize radioactive particles, sustain antigravitational field, and even improve people's health or skills.
Outside the Zone artifacts can be turned into decent sums of money, and that's the reason why "stalkers" dared to sneak into the Zone, despite the military cordon. And in the guise of stalkers hide civilians, former servicemen and common bandits. These daredevils have formed a large number of groups, built several safe stations right in the Zone territory, and even established trade with the outside world in exchange for the delivery of sausage, bread and vodka (an excellent radiation protective, by the way). So now you can live in the Zone, albeit there's significant risk to life and health.
The gameplay is similar to the previous two parts of the series, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat is an RPG with shooter elements: while there's a great deal of shooting, which you'll definitely find violent, much of the game is devoted to exploring the Zone.
To understand what is so special about S.T.A.L.K.E.R., you should imagine yourself thoughtfully combing the area with a detector in one hand and a shotgun in another and finding secrets by chance in completely unexpected places. Any moment you may suffer death coming from anomalies in your wild pursuit for artifacts that slip through your fingers.
You may also be attacked by a sudden blind dogs' band (and naturally mutants get more dangerous in the later levels of the game). Realize that you may receive a message about a deadly radioactive emission, so you rush to the nearest shelter only to discover a den of bloodsuckers or a mercenary base hostile to all other groups of stalkers. All those things are waiting for you in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
It'd be absolutely wrong to ignore the ambience. It's not a secret that the peculiar atmosphere was a trump card of the first part of the series, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat stays abreast for that matter: an abandoned factory, once letting out secret products in addition to civil ones, the village affected by radiation and buried up to the roofs of rare houses, an open cast, where you see a rusted-out and still very impressive bucket wheel excavator. Everything looks extremely natural, you feel the background is real, and the main character can become a part of it.
According to GSC Game World, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat isn't just a new part of the series, but it's also correcting mistakes and fixing bugs. As a matter of fact, the game was a success in all senses: its ambience and ability to light the fire of interest aren't worse than the predecessors' ones, moreover, this part is much more stable. Not a single "crash" (emergency completion) within 20 hours of playing - the developers do shoot the works!