I’m about to subscribe to my theory of
if ( isRPG( game ) && NumberOfBugs( game ) >= 20 ) then isGreat( game ) else return isMediocre;
because most of my favorite games ( which are almost always RPG based ) are released with a lot of scrīpting, dialog, and a few very critical bugs. I’m always willing to play the game despite its flaws, and I don’t mind starting all over from scratch since the first run is spent getting used to the style and environment of the game. So, Friday and part of Saturday I played it for about 4 hours ( thats cumulative sessions, not all at once ), but Sunday I decided to apply the patch and start over. I didn’t run into any REAL bugs ( a few dialog type-o’s here and there ), but I knew I should play it from the beginning again.
The setting, which in a Post-Apocalyptic future near the infamous power-plant Chernobyl, is well done. It makes me immediately think of Fallout, and if that had been made into a FPS. Though, it doesn’t have Fallouts whit and black comedy theme. Not to say S.T.A.L.K.E.R. doesn’t have its own charm, its more serious than Fallout. It features a really nice “photo-realistic” environment, closley resembeling the Half-Life 2 Source engine. It’s a real shame the developers just didn’t use the Source engine ( but to be fair, the have been working on this game for 6 years or so, sort of before hl2’s time ), because they are graphically the same except HDR lighting in Half Life 2 looks and performs better. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has its own Dynamic lighting, but I found the game unplayable with my Nvidia SLI 6800 Ultra setup. So, I use static lighting, which does make the game look just a tad bland.
There are a few really cool things this game does well though. First is the AI, bad guys don’t act too stupid, they wont rush you like a fool, but hang back and try their best to pick you off. Even the animal AI is neat, just watch a pack of mutant dogs for a bit. I also like the inventory system, but that is a given for any game. If you give me a backpack that I can open up and check up on my weapons and med kits, I’m a happy gamer. The most useful feature ( to me, since I have a short attention span ) is how you can manage your current quests/side missions. I cannot memorize the dialog, and where I’m supposed to go in any game. This one helps you out though, you can select which mission you want to be active, and it will show up on your map. Once you finish it, it stays in your menu ( a nice reference ), but notes that you have completed it. There is also a encyclopedia for the game, to help you read up on the fauna, factions and other cool in game info you run across.