E3 '07: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky Hands-On

We hit sunny Santa Monica to get our hands on the next S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Ducking out of the summer sun into one of the biggest video game press events of the season could net you hands-on time with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. prequel, Clear Sky. It worked for us. The new game from GSC Game World will still take place in the "exclusion zone" outside of the irradiated ruins of Chernobyl after the fictitious second nuclear meltdown that occurred in the previous game, Shadow of Chernobyl. However, the prequel takes place about a year before the events in the previous game and puts you in the role of a totally different character, who may actually end up being an enemy to the protagonist of the original game.

Click to enlarge.

In Clear Sky, you'll play as a mercenary who can work with any of the different factions of stalkers--the paramilitary scavengers who comb the wreckage of the exclusion zone in search of valuable, irradiated artifact items that can be sold for cold, hard cash. By allying with a specific faction, you can help that group complete the game by gathering the artifacts and fending off rival stalker factions and irradiated monsters. However, conditions were apparently different in the exclusion zone a year ago--radiation conditions were such that artifacts are invisible to the naked eye and can be found only with a detection gadget that must be held in hand at all times. This means that when you're close to finding an artifact, the biggest weapon you can carry will be a pistol in your other hand. If you're taking heavy fire and need to equip a two-handed weapon such as an assault rifle, you won't be able to find the item.

We played through a brief, prebuilt mission specifically created for E3 in which we came charging through the Ukrainian wilderness to join a stalker squad camped out in a ruined two-story building that might've been a bathhouse. The new game will apparently feature an all-new texture engine built on DirectX 10 architecture, though we weren't able to see DirectX 10 code at this year's E3. Once we met up with the group, we had a chance to compare the original game's character models to the new game's models. The Clear Sky character models are far more detailed, with higher-resolution textures that render the rumpled cloth of the stalkers' bodysuits much more realistically.

We ran through part of the mission, which required us to weave through the bombed-out second floor to take out enemy stalkers who were entrenched behind various cover points, pinning down our allies. We ran up flights of stairs bounded by walls of shattered bath tiles, piles of bricks, and loose wooden crates to get the drop on our enemies by ducking beneath cover, leaning behind walls, and looking down the sights of our weapons to zoom in slightly on our foes. The game will model different physical properties for different surfaces in the world--some objects, such as crates, will be fully destructible by gunfire, which means that flimsy cover won't really be cover at all once heavy fire starts. We were given continuous mission updates as we picked off each enemy soldier to move on to the next one until we'd finally taken them out. There will probably be plenty of intense gunfights in the new game, just like in the original.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is apparently scheduled for release in the early part of 2008, though no North American publishing partner has been announced. Even though developer GSC Game World had worked with THQ on the original game, the studio is actively negotiating with a variety of partners to bring the game to market.

Written By

Want the latest news about S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky?

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

Follow

Discussion

130 comments
Sutava
Sutava

To the guy that said that STALKER is a CRPG, then that means that Doom I was also a roleplaying game too :P STALKER was ruined by the inability to turn off the respawning. The respawning destroyed the immersion for me, it felt like they used respawning code from an MMO, awkward, single player ruining and stupid. I will not be buying Clear Sky if there is no option to disable respawns.

MG198242
MG198242

Hey, the first STALKER it's great game no matter what some say !!! I'm glad that they made a lot of changes to the game since 2001, and I mean STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl sounds better and it's a more easy name to remember than Oblivion Lost, plus the story of the actual game it's much more original than that of the promised game back in 2001/2002!!! For those who like the idea of a true SF game we have Halo series, Half-Life, Unreal series; Halo series actually it's a game that I cannot compare with STALKER, Halo is alot worse and a game for 10 years old kids, believe me!!! Clear Sky cannot disappoint!!!

Speidy0
Speidy0

man i hope they find a publisher for noth America

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

STALKER is especially great with both the REDUX and AliVE mods. And in fact, from a purely single player experience. It kicks the A** of Crysis. Much more interesting Atmosphere, AI, and with the added RPG aspects. It just cant be beat by any other shooter out there. Although shooter isnt the best word. Maybe FPSRPG. Love the modder community for it too. You really gotta play with the mods to get the best experience.

gacmyver
gacmyver

in case some people dont know this (refering to the dude that says add vehicles) stalker:soc DOES have vehicles and it WAS planned that vehicles would be in the game. but they took out the ability to drive the vehicles... HOWEVER, gsc left the code intact so modders could open up vehicles... so you just need to download a vehicle mod and kaboom, you can ride vehicles! dang its great yeah? and yes, those of us who loves crpg (those kind with lotsa freedom and lotsa statistics and options) will 100% love stalker. and now that CS will have better graphics with dx10, dang its gonna be so sweet!

thegamelover
thegamelover

i can proudly and easily say that stalker: soc is one of the best if not the best and most interesting first person shooter i played till this very moment. stalker: CS will be incredible and i will get it on release day.

juxax
juxax

I loved stalker, but I wish i'd pirated it instead of bought it when it first came out. I had lines and glitches whenever it rained, for some strange reason the underground tunnel at agropom sent my FPS to like, 10-12 and killing the bandits down there was almost impossible. I had constant freezes, where it'd slow to 0 fps for sometimes 20 seconds at a time. assaulting the freedom base was impossible due to like, 15 fps whenever the wall exploded. at first I thought it was my pc, running a geforce 8800 gts 640, but only an old 939 athlon x2 at 2.0Ghz. I just recently installed it, along with patch 1.0004 and now, i get a steady 50 fps, and in the underground areas i get upwards of 80, whereas before, like 10-15. and now i'm loving it, easily my favourite ever fps.

warspain
warspain

Man.....I wish they would hurry up...I love the Stalker concept. The game was buggy, but I got thru it okay with the patches. I wish there was another game out there with the same concept. I would buy it tomorrow..A smooth combination of RPG and FPS.

5uck3r
5uck3r

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Crocketeer
Crocketeer

This looks awesome! If they can make the single player as good and maybe pump up the multiplayer a bit than it will definitely be a must have!

pidow
pidow

I never had any problems while playing the first STALKER, never had to apply the patch and the game ran smoothly. I will await Clear Sky eagerly.

theirishfly
theirishfly

stalker is trully a game to bow to,i played it 3 times with no problems and still crave it.can't wait to play clear skys

pigijs
pigijs

this game will bee good

PHeMoX
PHeMoX

Either loads of people played the illegal beta version and are talking about that or they simply have a very messy PC. Because fortunately I did not encounter any bugs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R , yes that's right, not one!! One thing I díd notice was the huge impact of having twice as much memory, 1Gb clearly isn't enough to smoothly run that game. Anyways, looking forward to the prequel in 2008 !!

705H1R0
705H1R0

I played through the first one without too much trouble. Please please please add vehicles!

Psycold
Psycold

i find it funny how many people say this game was rushed when it took 6 years to make -STALKER 1, that is.

JPMcferran
JPMcferran

i liked shadow of chernobyl this one shoud be good to

t3t3t3
t3t3t3

stalker shadow of chernobyl is no that good of a game for me. it's right out boring

pidow
pidow

I wil wait and see.....hopefully, it will be a good one!.

Makhdoom82
Makhdoom82

I like the first one and definitely going to get this one !!! Cheeers !!!

kalcaron
kalcaron

My computer plays stalker fine, but it gets as hot as larva in the process.

MrBlargh
MrBlargh

I agree with majesticcryx, the first game might have poor translation, an ass-load of bugs and glitches and unreleased content that is still in the game script, but the story was still great and as most people forgot, this game, unlike most rpgs, did not have level requirement so the player did not have to end up spending weeks and weeks killing rats, which by the way, dont show up on my version. BUGS AND GLITCHES DO NOT STOP YOU FROM INSTALLING AND PLAYING THE GAME, IF YOUR COMPUTER SUCKS, NO **** YOU CANT PLAY IT. On a side note, makers of the game did encourage frequent saving, not only because of catching bullets in your head, but because of the amount of bugs that the game had when they rushed its release. GSC left the scripting of the unreleased content so modders could find it and create new versions. If you go to filefront.com theres a great mod called UHSF mod pack, it puts in unreleased content, lets you explore Pripyat and Chernobyl NPP and released traders that sell all weapons and content. Nuff' said.

Erandel
Erandel

I wouldn't touch this with a barge pole, considering the track record of not fixing bugs on the first game which render it unplayable for some folk. While I understand that bugs will stop people playing on some systems, and I can play it OK on my system, it still isn't excusable to not attempt to address other people's issues.

majesticcryx
majesticcryx

So what,if the first game have bugs,the gameplay was still good.I`m supporting the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s game fans,because I personal like the game very much!

eht
eht

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

eht
eht

well well..fan boys get his wish..another suck half done crap game.and can spend his money..flame folks who post in need of patches etc..for suck stalker game1..7years to put out junk..even reviews here said the game was full of bugs broken half worked and mp was a mess and still- oh well -its new its different.we give it a 8.5..it sould have been a 7 rating at best..gsc was on a dial up server.the first month the game came out in my state.i could not even play the game.saves was broken.i had to close to windows then open the game back up for any save games to work..not to mention.all the other bugs.but hey.fan boys push it any way..the only help at gsc stalker forum was good ole boys.and moders and got good at fixing a crap game.so gsc thq release cut code from retail game.thus blow outs extra monsters and a-life etc and for free work from moders to help the community with a crap broken game..well now we will get no more patches or support for stalker 1..moders work for free.we the community will get a full sdk thats it..everything else all mind work and patches what ever.will be the new..stalker clear skies for dummies..well they will never ever get another cent from me..and the only way i can even play and finish stalker game is with mods..to hell with stalker and stupid pee breath fan boys..this site does not give honest reviews.they have a biz to run.and get free games to test or what ever.and products to push and sell..i lose respect for sites like this too.. good luck to some.to hell with others.. seya

vaejas
vaejas

Expansion pack FTW

willytheekid
willytheekid

So they go from making us wait four yrs for the original, and change everythng that they promised would be in the game, then give us a "goodish", but not great (highly over rated!) game, then expect to release a DX10 follow up in a year! PLEASE!! After following stalker for nearly four years in developement, and with release date after release date going by, this is one game I won't hold my breath for or save money for. Clearly a last minute effort to recoupe lost funds on the original.

jrjcobra
jrjcobra

Yeah I like how they kept pushing that you could join a faction right up till the point of release only to find out you couldn't. AI wasn't that great either.

BADASSMATT04
BADASSMATT04

This is a preview I hardly get excited about. Stalker was a hugh disappointment, with the AI that people raved about was intelligent as Manic Miner! I'm sure when it is released, way past the first release date it will suck or look old just as the original did. One to miss I feel.

gdiza
gdiza

This game is one of those games I plan to 'give a miss" simply because of what diablobasher said, the original game still has 1 million bugs they haven't fixed and I will not spend more money on a buggy game just to have MORE bugs. I'd rather save for Fallout 3 if anything or Crysis or yeah... This is def a game that I'll get a copy of first, try it, see how buggy it is and if not, buy it :)

diablobasher
diablobasher

I waited more than 5 years for Shadow of Chernobyl, and when it finally arrived, it was unplayably buggy. And it still is. so please explain to me WHY you are now making another one when you havn't fixed half the bugs in the game engine, or the previous game.

fatwallet29
fatwallet29

It needs to be 100% better than the original Stalker, the original was a hugh missed opportunity. I waited nearly 2 years to get this game, and when i did what a dissapointment. It felt as though they were told this must go on sale now, regardless of the quality.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Wow it looks a lot farther into development than I would have expected, hope it doesn't disappoint.. Or get delayed 2,000+ times..

Ghaz013
Ghaz013

All i can say is polish, optimize, polish, more optimizing

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

If web mags like gamespot and print mags like PC Zone keep on only getting excited about graphics and therefore putting pressure on developers to then deliver games that very few gamers can run on their PC and therefore cannot buy the game and by extension cause PC gaming to slide even further, then quite simply we should all blame the decline in PC gaming on PC gaming media like Gamspot/PC Zone, et al.

jrjcobra
jrjcobra

Oh I know what they were trying to do they just didn't do it. If they actually do what they say this time I'd be impressed

MasterKarl
MasterKarl

THis prequel loks gorgeous in DX 10. I think the best of STALKER is the AI, and now, with this level of graphics will be a must-play My 2 cents

firebreathing
firebreathing

if the game does in fact support DX10 then a seamless world could be very possible, along with other things :) Also, jrjcobra, you fail to realize the scope of what GSC was trying to implement into the first game. They created a WHOLE NEW AI system where each npc acted in a realistic fashion. That in itself created a lot of bugs that needed to be worked out (something you would have known if you actually read up on the game).

jrjcobra
jrjcobra

I'm not gonna buy it they are basically adding what should have been in the original game.

Bauholzwolf
Bauholzwolf

If they make the entire world a seamless event, where your actions actually change things in the game and there's no random respawn when you load into an area (they were cheap and called it an enemy raid.. heh), it'll be better. I don't care about updated textures or physics systems, its all about gameplay. I want a seamless world, much like the The Elder Scrolls, where everything at least appears to be tied in together and such.

IvanGroznyi
IvanGroznyi

They dont need a publisher now, they have enough money to make the game themselves, independently. So they want to get a good price for the publishing. Moreover They are the publishers themselves for the former-USSR countries. So It will be no surprise for me if they manage to be publishers themselves, like the Russian company 1c does. So thats why - no worries abt the publisher. Its better to hope they fix all the bugs and work out better RPG system.

mattwbrad
mattwbrad

I can't complain about how the game ran, because I didn't have a good system when I played the original. The game itself was very entertaining, but most of the quests seemed repetitive, and the fact that raids happened every time I loaded back into the map made me frustrated. The engine looks very similar to the last one, so you should expect to see about the same kind of game play from the first, which includes map transitioning. I don't think this game would port well simply because of the memory allocation. Either way, I'll probably get the sequel because I still think the first one was great.

MarkRitchie1989
MarkRitchie1989

Good another stalker game i will buy it when it comes out in 2013

knitecrow
knitecrow

why don't they make a x360 version? it will sell a lot more than the pc version and i can play the game too.

tsb247
tsb247

I can't wait! I need more STALKER!

timma25
timma25

Hmmm... dunno how this is gunna work out. I want another stalker game, but they need to fix alotta the original problems. Hopefully they can do this in a reasonable release time.