E3 2008: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky Updated Hands-On

Although bleak and highly radioactive, the future is bright in this anticipated shooter from Deep Silver.

After suffering through an excruciating demo of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky earlier this year, we finally got our hands on this interesting prequel from Deep Silver. Don't get us wrong: The earlier demo showed off a beautifully rendered radioactive landscape and interesting dynamic storytelling involving the game's many factions and non-playable characters. Unfortunately, Deep Silver refused to let us play for ourselves, despite our begging and pleading. That all changed Thursday at E3 2008 in Los Angeles.

We jumped into the role of Scar, the protagonist in Clear Sky. After we entered several cheats, Scar had access to every weapon in the game as well as every radioactive artifact that gives a variety of bonuses. The setting was the city of Limansk, a bombed-out ruin that was ravaged by pockets of radiation. For the first time we saw one of the few puzzles in Clear Sky. On one road, irradiated areas were made visible by a shimmering effect, similar to heat rising above asphalt. Scar was forced to avoid these pockets of radiation by ducking and shimmying around them or else be transported to the beginning of the street to do it all over again.

There are several factions in the Clear Sky universe, and allying yourself with one (or more) will open up squad support during hairy missions. On a dark street, Scar stumbled upon a renegade, and our squad held him at gunpoint. The rogue said he had information that would be valuable on the road ahead, and he would gladly give it in exchange for a medkit. Since our faction isn't one to give in to such demands, this rogue was unceremoniously gunned down in the street. There are plenty of choices like this in Clear Sky, and deciding who lives or dies will alter your story experience in this dynamic world. Besides, the renegade's information wouldn't have mattered since Scar was under the protection of god mode.

Up ahead, a friendly soldier was pinned down by enemy machine gun fire. He offered to lay down some covering fire so Scar could escape into a nearby house and attempt to flank the gunner. Of course, you can choose to go wherever you want, ignoring the ally if you like. We played along and fought through the house and took out a few guards while he attempted to suppress the gunner. With a well-timed shot of a sniper rifle, the gunner was eliminated.

That ended our hands-on time, although we did scroll through the inventory screen to check out some of the weapons available. There are standard machine guns, shotguns, and rifles, as well as a bazooka and a six-pack grenade launcher. Each has its own individual ratings and attributes and can also be modified with items you pick up in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

One of Scar's major goals is to track down the irradiated artifacts that litter the zone. Some are nothing more than pieces of rock, while others offer tremendous bonuses. The flame artifact, for example, reduced bleeding by 60,000 percent, meaning that your wounds will heal almost instantly. Almost all of the artifacts emit poisonous radiation, although it's unclear how that will inhibit your character during gameplay. Thankfully, most radiation-related illnesses are treated in Clear Sky with vodka, which flows like wine in the exclusion zone. If you're in need of some cold, hard rubles, you can sell artifacts to many of the local merchants.

The inventory system is interesting in itself in that it is based on weight. Scar is able to hold 50 kilograms' worth of whatever he wants, and he won't be able to move if the inventory is overweight. With every weapon in the game, Scar easily topped out at 346 kilograms, but another handy cheat allowed him to move forward and eliminate enemies with explosive grenades.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is on our shortlist of anticipated upcoming PC titles for its blend of first-person shooting and role-playing elements, combined with a rich atmosphere and storytelling. We'll have more on Clear Sky soon.

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Discussion

121 comments
Sniper
Sniper

Vodka flows like wine. Brilliant simile. What's next? Steel drops like lead? The shoe fits like a glove? And thanks for defining the properties of Russian currency with another cold, hard cliche. I was under the mistaken impression that rubles are warm and soft. Keep up the excellent writing, GameSpot.

Raiden8
Raiden8

I really don't know about it. The last STALKER was horrible with too many bugs. At first, I thought it wasn't bad but not a big deal. But then, in one of the missions, after finishing it, I had to finish it again and then again. It was an infinite loop. So about this one, I'm just gonna wait a little more before buying it.

a7x-
a7x-

Omg, cant w8 to get my hands on this game ^^*

bybeach
bybeach

It took awhile, but the origonal Stalker really turned on for me. I saw a few bugs and a bit of clipping, but thats life..in the virtual world at least. The last third just plain rocked, and none of it was bad, though yes, fustrating. Soooo,.. wanting this one. A very good PC game if it is like and improves on it`s predecessor. Something that even now consoles have trouble reaching in total concept.

Reaper42562
Reaper42562

FOK South Africa we are only geting it on the 5th of september, AND we can't even buy the collecters edition of it!! SKREW OUR LOW DEMAND AND TO LITTLE SUPPLY!!!!

DeimosGT
DeimosGT

Hope there is a mode of transportation in this game. The first on didn't have any, so there was too much running around, making that a tad boring.

david_joseph93
david_joseph93

come on tell me guys it will be just a Whole chunk of land or separate areas?........please be whole!

Memoryitis
Memoryitis

this game looks promising, will wait around until the reviews show up, just hope its not full of bugs like the last one

razvanciurez
razvanciurez

I hope there is no more bugs in this one.....could be a dangerously disappointment

sputnjik
sputnjik

it was a hard game to beat, and to do it with a mapped game-pad was even more demanding but it was worth it. hope this one doesn't disappoints

sputnjik
sputnjik

it was a hard game to beat, and to do it with a mapped game-pad was even more demanding but it was worth it. hope this one doesn't disapoint

pidow
pidow

I never had problems with the first game...and hope none with this one.

Jackyll87
Jackyll87

I spent so many evenings promising myself that i wont play further till the bugs were fixed but i couldnt help myself.STALKER was that kinda game. I played through all the endings( superficials and the 2 true ones). Though i m kinda disappointed that they didnt increase the weight limit i am still going to get this.

Kez1984
Kez1984

Stalker was one of the most immersing games I've played in a while and unlike all these multiplat games, it actually felt like a pc game.

division_9
division_9

Stalker had amazing atmosphere. Everything else in it was crap though.

rockatanski
rockatanski

Stalkers overall premise and idea was incredible. It is pretty obvious that this game is very unique in itself and I agree that it was frustrating at times, especially with the glitches that occured regardless of the updates. It was very lucky that these glitches were mostly side mission ones though. Either way, it was still an incredibly dark and spectacular gaming experience. Can't wait for Clear Sky ;)

BIGmerle
BIGmerle

STALKER was both one of the most engrossing games I ever played and one of the most frustrating. I played the first time and the doctor I was supposed to rescue was killed almost immediately, minutes before I even figured out where he was. Took me another couple of hours to figure out I had no chance of completing the game without his survival. Then there were other missions I thought I completed, but never ran to the exact correct spot to complete. Frustrating. On the other hand, when it worked, it was an amazingly immersive experience. Here's hoping that they keep the good and fix the bad.

Demyanov
Demyanov

was disappointed by the preview, it says absolutely nothing new compared to any previous ones.. why bother posting it? moreover why bother sending someone jon miller to cover it? makes me wonder..

gfile
gfile

I WANT IT NOW!

graavigala
graavigala

i was dissapointed by the first game because you couldnt get the sweet looking jackets as was promised :D the game itself was great thou :)

OgreB
OgreB

Actually if you look at vanilla STALKER they already have artifacts that reduce bleeding 600 percent etc. Don't ask me what it means though....never figured that part out. But you need to stop bleeding before you can heal and I beleive it lessens the chance to recieve a bleeding wound.

mdinger
mdinger

"The flame artifact, for example, reduced bleeding by 60,000 percent, meaning that your wounds will heal almost instantly. " Er, can you reduce anything by more than 100%??? If bleeding is reduced by 100% it would be stopped instantly, so what does reducing it by 60,000% do? Grow a new leg? ;-)

pidow
pidow

Let me play it!.

Wigster666
Wigster666

This game looks good will have to keep my eye on it.

zobbi4110
zobbi4110

"Reads the preview......looks at computer specs.....wishes it was on ps3....." By the time they port mgs4 on the pc maybe.

paul1290
paul1290

STALKER actually has a good technical excuse for not being on consoles. The problem isn't graphics because the consoles can handle its graphics easily. The problem is that STALKER eats RAM for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It even uses more RAM than Crysis sometimes. A lot of it comes from the fact that STALKER has a lot of stuff running unseen in the background that other shooters don't have. For example, most first person shooters stop the AI of an NPC the moment you exit the area they are in, but STALKER doesn't do that. STALKER simulates the AI of every NPC in your game in some form even if you aren't in the same area as them. STALKER also continues to simulate events happening in areas of the game other than the one you currently in.

stupid_snip3r
stupid_snip3r

i loved stalker my only two gripes are outdated graphics and that guns just didn't seem to kill people at times.

ratix2
ratix2

"Stalker and crysis hopefully will apear on 360. At least I hope so." wow, are you all still on this kick? get over it and get a gaming rig, one to play stalker espically can be found for the price of an xbox 3fixme. seriously, if you cant afford a pc good enough to play stalker than i ask how the hell you afforded whatever console it is you have (as if i didnt already know that your parents bought it for you).

DecadesOfGaming
DecadesOfGaming

Stalker and crysis hopefully will apear on 360. At least I hope so.

ElZilcho
ElZilcho

karatefry Muahaha, consoles lose again! >=) mmmmm, not ... really, not really no, well kinda. you have to admit though that there are more than enough games on consoles to make up for the loss of this but it would be nice to have this on consoles and not only this but many other pc games and likewise i'd like to see many console exclusives come to the pc. and why does it seem to pleasure you that consoles miss out on this one great game? shouldnt it be our goal to have freedom of choice in games no matter what consoles we owe? but if that still doesnt make you think about it a little then consider this; many games that come out on pc and consoles simultaniously always end up doing better on consoles than on pcs (shadow run for example) my point is that having games exclusive to one system is not the best course of action for either the people making the games or the consumer, so look into working some sort paradigm shift about this matter, god knows you need it.

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

STALKER was definatly one of the most immersive games I've ever played. When you play STALKER you become a STALKER. The real world slips away.

cyrus151
cyrus151

stalker....path to the monolith....your wish is my comand!!!!

Richard7666
Richard7666

Hopefully it's a bit more polished than STALKER was, but considering the feature list, I'll probably forgive it if it's not anyway lol.

karatefry
karatefry

Muahaha, consoles lose again! >=)

GodsPoison
GodsPoison

"Reads the preview......looks at computer specs.....wishes it was on ps3....."

ElementalSoljer
ElementalSoljer

Can't friggin' wait! All of the Clear Sky coverage makes me want to go back and play through Shadow of Chernobyl just so that I am up to speed and refreshed on the whole S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe. And of course to see just how kick-ass this Clear Sky looks in comparison!

IDarkNight
IDarkNight

This game RULZ and the expansion will rulz again! :P

ShadoCrytr
ShadoCrytr

That sounds pretty damned fun. I can't wait to get my hands on the game. :D

game-spy
game-spy

stalker i think this series not so sure this game is not arractive plz impoved it who incharge of the project its same thigs nothing special if head of this project or director i can sure i can make super game and more different game play modified video object pixels im sure i can do this because i have the story game if some one listen this my story of game u will like much like it plz call me or email me on umair69@hotmail.com or i have contact number is 03447064119 plz plz plz i have the talent 2 built games plz help me out i like 2 with ubisoft or mirosoft e.t.c this is big super game of the year i like ubisoft grahics is nic clean and real plz call me umair khan country pakistan city multan

Avals
Avals

Beautiful!!!!^^

thefuneralofgod
thefuneralofgod

"50 kilograms' worth of whatever he wants" VODKA! wooo! lets drink 100 bottles of Cossack's Vodka and try to kill some mutants! Most fun feature in SOC imo. Vehicles would be a nice addition, since many mods have implemented them.... and drinking 100 bottles of vodka and driving is always fun.

morbid_man_guy
morbid_man_guy

the first game presented a bleak but so enveloping atmosphere that few games achieve. I didn't have any problems with bugs, although when I enabled global illumination it got bogged down when there was more than a few dynamic lights. The motion blur was kinda ugly too. Hopefully this game will be even better than the already highly enjoyable first game.

tyzwain
tyzwain

The original STALKER was okay, but with most sequels they put in the stuff they didnt have time for. Fingers crossed on this one.

Thing2
Thing2

I pirated the original Stalker because it looked interesting. Within an hour of playing I got up, went to the store and bought it. It was money well spent and I can't wait to get (buy) Clear Sky =) Good work guys, keep it up

TurambarGS
TurambarGS

Shadows of Chernobyl was incredibly buggy. I don't mind if they leave out features as long as it ain't buggy this time around. If it wasn't for user made patches/mods/etc. then I never would have been able to play through the first one with anything considered decent graphics. Still... I am looking forward to this - I loved the setting, environment and mood of the first one - no other game I've played has managed to capture such bleakness without it being overwhelmingly depressing. Well, as long as you spent enough time in the Bar area and not around the Scorcher or the Forest.

VXCOM
VXCOM

Yeah...i hope this series i can make my own character + with my chosen weapon/armor that can be upgrade multiple times or specialty and dont forget abt vehicle[upgradeble] because almost rpg game have a wide world to be explore......-to the 1st stalker is...weird storyline...good fps&rpg game but with a boring bgmusic and the AI are bad and also too many bugs......the interface are "not well made"......i hope they repair all of it or *almost all* in this series.......and i cant wait to get my hands on it.....and my hope are almost the same as you guys....to enjoy this great game....

Craft2299
Craft2299

Well i just cant trust this game. Shadows of chernobyl was good, but not good enough that itl make me get this one.

thebanewolf
thebanewolf

i want to play this game badly, since the old one had it's gaps to be filled, I'm hoping this one will be able to nail it perfectly, and like Paul said, what about vehicles?