Available: Q4

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. © THQ
First Impression by Nicole Hamlett

I have to admit that when I sat with Oleg Yavorsky for my demo of S.T.A.L.K.E.R, I didn't expect what I got. From the opening moments the game had an incredible realistic feel to it. The graphics themselves were so well done that in some places I was unsure if it was a photo or a rendering. I normally am not the type of girl that likes FPS, but I was sincerely impressed with this fps/ survival title. GSC put a lot of work into this game. We started out in The Exclusion zone and ran through the area. I was surprised to see so many details. They spent a considerable amount of time at Chernobyl researching the area. GSC took over 1000 photos to create the realistic textures that you see in this game. Oleg told me that they even had a former scientist helping with the realism factor of the game. He was surprised to see his old office in the game. The game itself covers over 30 square kilometers.

This is an excerpt from the Developer Diary -
With S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow Of Chernobyl we wanted to establish a ‘what if’ scenario based on the very real and very terrible events of 1986 when Reactor Four at Chernobyl blew. Our storyline posits a second explosion in 2006 that essentially creates what we call The Exclusion Zone around the reactor site. It’s this Zone that defines the scope of the game as it contains the perversion of nature as effected by the release of such a high dose of radiation. Here we can create an area that allows the range of incidents and opportunities we need for a game of such ambition. Here we can set up our own laws, both natural and unnatural, in which the ‘real’ world can interact in a way that feels acceptable for gamers.
There is a world of possibilities in this game.

Oleg explained to me that these S.T.A.L.K.E.R.S are faction based scavengers who have missions to go into the area and retrieve artifacts. Faction is important in this game. You can be on the side of such factions as ecologists or murderers. Your faction will determine how you are treated by the NPC’s.

The AI in this game is highly interactive. As we went into a building to retrieve an item, I was shown how your character can interact with so many of the objects in the game. I also got an eyeful of a mutated human. There is required rest in the game. But watch out where you fall asleep, you could very well get eaten. There are also hotspots throughout the area that you need to avoid. They are remnants of what created the meltdown. They pop up anywhere and you won’t see them right off the bat.


This game is complex and entertaining. The level of detail and forethought that went into this game just astounds me. I would rate it at a 9.5 if I were reviewing it. The graphics are stunning, game play non linear and diverse. The conspiracy theories and frightening and the realism is uncanny. You can expect S.T.A.L.K.E.R to release sometime in Q4 this year. My recommendation is to get this game. You won’t be sorry!