S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is back with a standalone expansion pack called STALKER Clear Sky. The good news is you won’t need the original game to play it, however you’ll probably have wanted to play the original as it will prepare you for what is a rock hard prequel – read the original STALKER review to see why I thought it deserved an 8 out of 10.
Set before the last adventure in the year 2011, you once again play a Merc who’s exploring the area around Chernobyl after a second cataclysmic disaster. However, things are different this time as massive anomalies keep occurring which make the skies red and fry everything in sight – except for you that is. Each event may kill all around but it just damages you on a cellular level. There’s only so much you can stand though, so, it’s up to you to help the faction at the Clear Sky base to stop this strange event and find out what’s causing it.
This event has also changed the land for good – anomalies aren’t now where they used to be, rending some areas safe to visit and others no-go areas. This of course is a useful tool for the game to make the whole experience different yet set in the same familiar surroundings of the spooky wide-open areas and of course dark interiors home to all manner of nasties.
Although the graphics aren’t particularly stunning, the game is once again incredibly atmospheric. The mutants and the new human factions that roam the land behave in a completely unscripted way and this makes the action and exploration always a tense one. You often find yourself responding to cries for help and going in to help others in return for money.
Unfortunately, unless you look very hard for artefacts scattered amongst the anomalies you’ll just feel like you never have enough – seems like the credit crunch has hit Stalker-land as well. And, just when you feel you’ve upgraded your weapons enough and got some new hazard suits to keep you alive longer, there are moments in the game that completely strip you of what you have – something that keeps you hitting quicksave and hitting the quickload button as soon as you get yourself mugged.
With its RPG elements, exploration and FPS shooting Stalker Clear Sky definitely has something extra for people who wish to enter The Zone once again. Just make sure you’re ready for a very punishing time ahead. S.T.A.L.K.E.R Clear Sky gets a good 6 out of 10.
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