GC '07: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky Impressions

GSC Game World shows off a previously unseen environment from its upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. prequel.

LEIPZIG, Germany--It was only a little over a month ago that we last met with GSC Game World to play an early version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, but today we met with them again at the 2007 Games Convention. The game hasn't changed too dramatically since E3, of course, but today we had an opportunity to check out a previously unseen level from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl prequel, and we thoroughly enjoyed doing so.

Set approximately one year before the events of the original game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky will see you assuming the role of mercenary who has no great love for Strelok, the protagonist in Shadow of Chernobyl. The upcoming game will attempt to answer some of the questions that were never resolved while playing as Strelok, and will also introduce a number of gameplay improvements to the mix--largely based on feedback from the first game's passionate and vocal community.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky will feature a total of 14 distinct locations (the original game had 18), and while many of them will be recognizable to fans, they won't be identical. Five of the locations in Clear Sky will be all-new, like the "Marshland" level that we saw today.

Taken from early on in the game, Marshland is purportedly the biggest environment to appear in a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game yet. The Marshland isn't as closely based on any area in the real Chernobyl exclusion zone as most other areas are, but it certainly doesn't look out of place, and we're told that it's quite typical of marshes that would be formed when areas of Russia were deliberately flooded during the construction of hydroelectricity plants and the like.

Even at this relatively early stage of development, Clear Sky's visuals are looking impressive. The expanses of water and tall grass that make up much of the Marshland look great, and the run-down factories and such that dot the landscape look like they've been there forever. The icing on the cake is new volumetric lighting that produces some really impressive shadows as the sun moves through the sky, and the character models that we got reasonably good looks at all appeared to represent a significant improvement over those in the previous game.

The first character model that we got a really good look at was the leader of the Clear Sky faction--one of eight warring factions in the game, and one of the five that you'll have the option to join as you progress through the story mode. Like its predecessor, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky will afford you plenty of freedom to play the game as you want to, and the factions are perhaps one of the best examples of this. You'll be able to play through the entire story mode without ever joining one of them if you wish, but each faction has a number of missions waiting for you, and if you progress up through the ranks of a faction, you'll find that the improved weapons and armor are well worth the effort. You'll also find that factions have access to traders, guides (you can pay them to get to destinations more quickly), and mechanics with the ability to maintain and repair your gear.

Faction missions will include everything from hunting wildlife to capturing key locations, such as watchtowers, factories, and enemy bases. Every capture point that you successfully claim for your faction will make your group stronger, which will not only be evident in your own gear but also in the gear used by the comrades you fight alongside. You'll want your guys to be as well equipped as possible, too, because we can tell you that some of the new enemies you'll be facing are pretty brutal. The new "marsh beast" that killed a mercenary right in front of our eyes today, for example, is lightning fast, can jump great distances even when it has an enemy in its grasp, and likes to hide in long grass. Oh, and it's invisible. Good luck with that.

You won't be able to issue any orders to your squad, but their actions will be largely be determined by your own, and they're certainly more intelligent than anything we remember from the first game. In today's presentation it was clear that the CPU-controlled characters were comfortable moving in and out of cover when appropriate, and leaning out of cover to shoot at enemies. They were even smart enough to come to a halt at one point when they spotted a particularly large group of boars up ahead.

Our demo came to an end shortly after we saw the boars taken care of with some sniper rounds, but not before we were treated to a quite beautiful look at the day and night cycle being accelerated. The sunset was especially impressive, and the dead of night was so dark that campfires in the surrounding area were almost the only thing we could see.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is currently scheduled for release in early 2008. We'll bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.

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29 comments
Bulldog19892
Bulldog19892

"and the character models that we got reasonably good looks at all appeared to represent a significant improvement over those in the previous game" This is at the end of the fifth paragraph. Took me a minute to figure out what the hell this means.

wierchas
wierchas

for people who moan about vista : u first need to get real os

Reaper42562
Reaper42562

S.T.A.L.K.E.R , was ok......WHAT WHO AM I KIDDING!! IT WAS AWESOME!! 9/10 for the game and a very interesting hypothesis I just wish and hope that Clear Sky Will have Russia's most famous weapon (the AK 47) and that the story's in your PDA are actually true eg. for example: RPG ammo can be found in most warehouses throughout the zone or in the Dark Valley there are alot of mutants ect. You guys catch my drift? All in all first S.T.A.L.K.E.R. = ONE OF A KIND hopefully S.T.A.L.K.E.R Clear Sky = every great moment of S.T.A.L.K.E.R + mind blowing new ideas and game play. Finally hope there are no or very few glitches

Rasserei
Rasserei

I am so damn ready for this game. I wonder who would win in fight between that new marsh beast or the good ol' blood suckers?

PBSnipes
PBSnipes

Way to go Calvert, you managed to include a major spoiler from the first game within the first 2 paragraphs. Glad to see GS is getting rid of guys like Jeff G to keep up the journalistic integrity around here...

brandao25
brandao25

Can't wait to play Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. And I am really proud of this game that my Ukranian conrads have made! BIG thumbs up for GSC Game World!!!

-Dragon_Hunter-
-Dragon_Hunter-

Damn it, i want this game, and i want it now. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is probably the best FPS/RPG released since the first Deus Ex (Though i guess that doesn't say much, since it's a rather rare genre), and a new and improved version is coming. Ah well, i waited years for the first game, i guess i can wait a few months for the second one. Hopefully this one won't be delayed four or five years. ; )

gacmyver
gacmyver

damn, hope it wont be like the darker mods available for current stalker, cause it just gets really dark, but the enemies can see you like it was day, so its really confusing, i mean better atmosphere but invisible enemies owning you. hope they fix it so that enemies cant see you if you cant see them... unless you have your flashlight on and they dont :P

Streetrider9873
Streetrider9873

Sounds amazing. The first one, if to disregard a few bugs, is one of my favorite games ever released. It seems to be a little underrated though. Hopefully Clear Sky will give the series the recognition it deserves. Can't wait.

ChancreScolex
ChancreScolex

Wow, wish I never read this preview. I just started playing the first one and now I have the whole story ruined for me. Ahh well at least one of my favorite movies is Memento so now I can see why I'm supposed to kill myself.

silverbullet198
silverbullet198

The new "marsh beast" that killed a mercenary right in front of our eyes today, for example, is lightning fast, can jump great distances even when it has an enemy in its grasp, and likes to hide in long grass. Oh, and it's invisible. Good luck with that. muhahahaha i cant bloody wait =P the bloodsuckers were the best >:D

LagMan_pt
LagMan_pt

the first one is great , im gonna buy this one for sure. This kind of open world fpss dont come very often.In clear skies I would like to see some enhanced AI (no more sitting ducks and deaf stalkers) and a more dinamic relation with non playing caracters (you know they never pick any loot, so what are they looking for, and no difference between friend n neutral ). i was happy to see that the physics of the game are much better. Great graphics too (but well every game has good graphics nowadays) Give us a limited edition like bioshock :)

jcaullay
jcaullay

This game has the potential to be excellent. Graphically stunning already. Hopefully they make a release that isn't full of 'amateur developer' bugs and glitches, like the first one. Also, hoping that their stupid 'realistic' weapon/damage system is fixed. I hated the way that you would fire an entire clip into something, miss 80% of the time, and do about 50% damage. Grrr. Come on guys! Get it right this time please!

Targzissian
Targzissian

Yes I'll definitely be playing this in DX10. Too bad the first one is barely stable in Vista. And don't rush it. Early 2008 is cool, but this is a game worth waiting for. I'd rather they do it right than rush it out the door with bugs, missing content, etc...

ele975
ele975

man, AWESOME! i'm a HUGE fan of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game, i'm gonna play this game all night long in the weeken, and my friends will be dead to me (joke)

pugkiller
pugkiller

MilkyJoe1 >>>> Im playing it on Vista. I never had any problems with installing or playing it( Dear 2k Boston: WHY CANT YOU DO THIS??!?)

sta2009
sta2009

I PLAYING STALKER ON VISTA

mkreku
mkreku

All I want from STALKER is a co-op mode and more freedom to move around. I wish they had made the game use streaming map technology instead of those levels it is currently divided in. Oh well, you cant have it all I guess. Still looking forward to this! It will make a nice addition alongside my STALKER Collector's Edition :D

PG213
PG213

I'm very glad GSC gameworld seems to listen to the input of the STALKER fans. There's some images of the marshland on the oficial STALKER site.

MilkyJoe1
MilkyJoe1

First they should get S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:Shadow Of Chernobyl working on vista! before jumping to the next thing!

MilkyJoe1
MilkyJoe1

First they should get S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:Shoadow OF Chernobyl working on vista!!!!!!

Homes225
Homes225

This will def make me reinstall STALKER.

tsb247
tsb247

I can't wait! This sounds great!

nutcrackr
nutcrackr

man all these features were things I felt would really make stalker awesome so its great they are adding them. 5 new locations is enough for an expansion pack when all that other gameplay stuff is added. Repairing weapons :D :D

dark_being
dark_being

if all of this is really true, then Clear Sky would be even better then the original STALKER. Loved the marsh concept, I hope it will be used right. the new monster sounds like a really cool new enemy... CANT WAIT!

blackcro55
blackcro55

Looking forward to spending more time in the STALKER world.

Shinedown220
Shinedown220

They should bring this(and the original) to the consoles.