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| Stalking through the Paces (2 comments )|
by: DaugWok (85) | Posted in cluster Top 10 Challenge Round Sponsored by Intel
Posted 75 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
I've anticipated S.T.A.L.K.E.R for years because it seems to borrow atmospheric and design cues from games I admire. Fallout-style post apocalyptic wasteland environment? Check. Deus Ex-style first person free-form game play with RPG elements? Roger. An Elder Scrolls-style, gigantic world with nooks and crannies waiting to be explored? Naturally. S.T.A.L.K.E.R’s world is even based on the real-life Chernobyl site. From my perspective, S.T.A.L.K.E.R promises to be a sort of “Gameplay Greatest Hits” for bygone eras of gaming. Is that assessment true of the released game? Well, I’ve scraped together some observations and impressions while playing my first few initial hours.
Technical problems. All video games suffer them to some degree. S.T.A.L.K.E.R, however, seems to rigorously scrub in a uniquely formulated buggy bath. One of the first things I did after loading the game for the first time was change the lighting model from “static” to “full dynamic.” After all, static lighting is for chumps. I admit that the resulting slide show, while unplayable, was dynamically lit very nicely. Look, I know dynamic lighting is a beast as performance-sappers go, but I figured if Half-Life 2, Doom3, Far Cry, FEAR, and Oblivion could manage it on my lowly Radeon X800XL, surely S.T.A.L.K.E.R could. While the game’s dynamic lighting is documented as only requiring DirectX 9 compliance (which my X800XL has, by the way), it apparently only runs WELL with Shader Model 3.0. Great. What a nifty oversight on the developer’s part.
The questing system of S.T.A.L.K.E.R seems to vary from “vaguely functional” to “compulsively dishonest” to “more broken than Evel Knievel’s ribs.” Quests can be selected through the in-game PDA, but there’s no guarantee they will STAY selected. Several times I have selected a quest, put the PDA away, and then pulled it back out a few minutes later to find the quest had been mysteriously deselected. Map markers can be placed at the destination of some quests but not others. There doesn’t seem to be much logic behind this inconsistency. An information icon can be clicked for most quests, but the provided information is typically skimpy at best. Why didn’t they put the quest-giver’s dialog in there instead? Oh, and don’t you dare right-click that icon, or it’s to the desktop with you.
The Russian-to-English translations in the game tend to fall somewhere between childlike and hilarious. In one bit of dialog a Stalker refers to his fellow warriors as “homies.” One quest objective’s questionable wording reads, “Bring over the tail of the pseudodog.” I believe I’ve gotten the gist of most of the translations, but I wish they were more natural and localized. Also, the impromptu NPC-to-NPC spoken conversations and combat exclamations have not been dubbed or subtitled, leaving the player to wonder, “What did that dude I just killed call me?”
Don’t get me wrong. The underlying gameplay of S.T.A.L.K.E.R is intriguing and enjoyable. There are a variety of things to do and the atmosphere is what I hoped it would be. I don’t think I’ve seen any major problems than couldn’t be addressed by a patch, although I haven’t read anything from developer GSC Game World about releasing one. I’m certainly looking forward to playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R to completion, as it’s obvious a lot of care and effort went into its creation.
*Update* 3/27/2007 - Patch v1.0001 has been released. The changelog is extensive, but I haven't re-assessed the aforementioned glitches while using it yet. It is not compatible with existing savegames, unfortunately.
|2 User Comment(s) • 1 root comment(s)|
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