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Old 10-17-2008, 07:46 PM   #1
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Stalker: Clear Sky Review - Please Rate This Review

Thereís nothing quite like buggy gameplay to turn make a good game feel not worth playing. Thatís exactly whatís happened with the prelude to Stalker: Shadows of Chernobyl, which features nearly everything Shadows had and more.

Stalker: Clear Sky takes place prior to the events of Shadows, following a nameless mercenary found after a shockwave killed a team of scientists he was escorting through the ďdanger areaĒ. The mercenary not only makes it out alive, but has heightened senses, giving a slight edge over other Stalkers, but simultaneously ensures his nervous system will literally crash if the source of his problems isnít cured.

Awakening in a small village named Clear Sky, players start off helping this faction of scientists/stalkers discover just what is causing the changing environment. The first several missions are a preparation for the faction wars that take place throughout the game, where choices made reflect who will help you, trade with you, and even give you missions to perform.

The entire game is essentially the discovery of Chernobylís supposed reinstallment and discovering the cause of it. Using their graphics engine that is as realistic as ever, the shadows and lighting effects are absolutely amazing. While the level of graphical detail is not up to par with Crysis Warhead (or even Crysis), running Clear Sky at maximum spec will put a devilish strain on your machine, but will look damn pretty. Itís expected to be used as a benchmarking tool for future PCís.

What Clear Sky has, however, is an intriguing game that is filled with bugs and nuisances. It isnít filled with the shocking horror, if it can go that far, that Shadows had, though Clear Sky has its moments. The game utilizes incredible sound (best when using surround for true gripping action), simulating wild beasts, other stalkers, rustling trees and more to alert players of anything in their immediate vicinity. The stark soundtrack also adds depth to traditional FPS-styled gameplay.

If anything, Clear Sky is a mixture of RPG and FPS, with so many different missions, things to do and ways to achieve just about anything available. Many hours can be devoted to simply searching the giant world for artifacts, let alone actually playing the game and moving forward.

Reality ends up turning a cold shoulder on Clear Sky. Nearly everything that could have gone wrong with the game did during my playtest of it, with the exception of Windows crashing. An initial patch is required to ensure the game doesnít crash on bootup, which is the worst possible sign for any game. The autosave function stopped working within twenty minutes of gameplay, weapons had a poor tendency to not switch in their proper timely manner, enemy AI became erratic at timesÖmore problems cropped up than both expected and appreciated.

They became so bad that Clear Sky became downright unplayable at times. An accidental death meant starting over from an hour earlier. Because Clear Sky is extremely realistic, with such things as excess weight, blood-loss after battles and radiation poisoning, dying suddenly happens for the untrained eye. Being slightly broken makes it all the worse.

Stalker: Clear Sky is by no means a bad game; it has a plethora of excellent characteristics, but is simply fraught with glitches and bugs, some of which need patched desperately. Reports have different problems for different players, which is even worse. Recommended because it is a great game, but with much caution.
Graphics: 9.5. Graphically stunning, Clear Sky has some of the best shadow and lighting designs ever created.

Sound: 9.5. A creepy, solemn soundtrack followed up by exquisite surround sound is a clear winner.

Gameplay: 9.0. Massively scaled open-world areas, limitless weapons and customisation and essentially every theme possibly for an FPS, gameplay is dead on.

Fun Factor: 7.5. Depending on your tastes, Clear Sky is either an FPS, RPG or a mixture of both. Most anyone can enjoy it, but the incredibly buggy nature takes very much fun out of the experience.

Online: N/A

Overall: 7.0

Ups: Exquisite gameplay, strong lighting and shadow graphics, open world environment.

Downs: Buggy, buggy, buggy. Not as gripping as it could be, and buggy.
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