S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Updated Hands-On - It's Finally Done

THQ and GSC Game World announce that their ambitious and long-delayed first-person survival action game is finally complete.

Kelly Flock, executive vice president of worldwide publishing, uttered the words that many thought they would never hear at THQ's Gamers' Day in San Francisco today. "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been released to manufacturing," he said. And to prove it, THQ and developer GSC Game World had the first-person survival action game on hand for us to see and play.

Set in an alternate universe where the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor has become a hotbed of mutant and supernatural activity, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl promises a huge, virtual world to explore, with a dynamic ecology of its own. The game spent much longer in development than anticipated, though, as GSC worked to implement many of the game's ambitious features.

We played multiplayer deathmatch at the event and saw a cool new level called "Desolated Village." As its name suggests, this takes place in a pretty run-down place, full of ramshackle structures falling apart. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. does a fantastic job of capturing the sense that you're exploring an abandoned world. However, the level also impressed us with the sheer amount of complexity and depth to it. Part of the village is on a cliff, providing elevated firing positions. However, numerous stairwells and tunnels offer plenty of ways up and down the cliff, so someone can't dig in atop the cliff and dominate the map. There are simply too many ways to get up and around them.

The ballistics modeling in multiplayer feels authentic, with just the right amount of recoil for each weapon. Shooting from the hip or while on the run isn't recommended because it's generally inaccurate. It's far better to stop or slow down, raise the rifle so you can line up a shot with the iron sights, and fire tight, controlled bursts. This increases the chances of you hitting, as well as nailing an instant-kill headshot.

One thing that we didn't mention in our earlier multiplayer preview is the escalating rank structure in multiplayer. When you start a match, you begin at the lowest rank, which means that you only have a certain number of weapons and pieces of equipment available to you for purchase. Getting kills or accomplishing tasks in team games, such as capturing an important artifact and returning it to base, earns you points. Gain enough points, and you're promoted to the next level, which makes more powerful firearms and equipment available to you for purchase. It sounds like a rich-gets-richer type of situation, but it's offset by the fact that this higher-level gear is more expensive. Plus, you can still die as quickly as before and someone can pick up your gear and use it against you next time you spawn.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. looks good, and we can't wait to check out the final version of the game ourselves. You won't have to wait much longer, either, as the game is scheduled to ship later this month.

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117 comments
mueca
mueca

the game is good but i dont like the finish. i dont hope this bad finish

Valkyry
Valkyry

Just got a phonecall from EB Games: "Hey man, we have you down for a pre-order of STALKER from 2004. Did you still want it? It came in today." This is in Australia. So yeah, am well excited! Off to pick it up shortly, will report back.

flubagalub
flubagalub

Ooh, sounds like a fairly cool game. And since it's apparently been in development for a while it should be pretty long and not have many bugs.

MooKazoo
MooKazoo

Sweet! Just a few more days... :P

calutebate
calutebate

YESSSSSS ITS FINALY HERE>>>>OMG 6 YEARS A HAVE WAITED...first time i so the game was in september 2001 in a pc magazine

shlepad
shlepad

South Africa is Man-made-hell enough.

Glordit
Glordit

09 March... 23 March for me..... Man made hell can't come fast enough ;) [South Africa gets everything last :P]

bodylotion
bodylotion

Yes but gameplay alone isn't everything :) What would Half Life 1 be(en) without a story ? But i have high hopes for this game otherwise i wouldn't have ordered it, it's just that it could be a little dissapointment for some people. Also i'm a great "post apocalyptic" freak like "Fallout 1 & 2" so the theme is pretty nice for me.

TIMESUPYO
TIMESUPYO

already been reserved, yippee!! and bodylotion? im not too concerned with the story on this one, sounds like gameplay will be super rad, i do think the story will be decent though.

ktseymour
ktseymour

Ahhh..... just bring on the damn game already. I'm on my second bottle of just for men.

bodylotion
bodylotion

i ordered the game even though i'm not sure it will really be playable on my machine. Almost everything i read in the FAQ of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is very great. Timezones, great A.I. , A-Life, etc. etc. However i did order Dark Messiah : Might and Magic, too when it came out. That was a huge dissapointment too. Started off like a very great game but had a huge lack of story at the end.

Seven-X
Seven-X

Im stoked for this one.

Pass_O
Pass_O

I am from Ukraine(Sumy 400 km from Chrenobyl), and I know that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. would be the greatest game ever upcoming from former U.S.S.R. (СНГ) GSC - rulez!

Virus2k6
Virus2k6

If this game will be sucks, I will kill my self! Cuz I've waited for it 5 or 4 years (I don't remember exactly). But, by the prewiews, I can tell that it's going to be a really good game but not to revolutinary...

Sokol4ever
Sokol4ever

Well then, hopefully another good shooter to keep in possession.

gilmog1
gilmog1

vovakovtun you should be proud, this game looks awesome and i cant wait to buy it :) im heading over to Ukraine next year for a few days :)

radik87
radik87

can't wait until it's out. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

I was really worked up over this game a year or two (no perhaps three) ago. I'm hoping playing it will bring that excitement back.

benbengraves
benbengraves

Makes me wonder if KadD has heard about Boot Camp....

let55
let55

that`s funny... Mac port. Well, maybe someday, who knows. Diddn`t you guys just get doom or something? [sarcasm /end] I don`t think I will believe this before I see it. Just like Duke Nukem.

KadD
KadD

mac port?..someday...?.......please? :]

champmanfan
champmanfan

I'm still not sure on getting this so the demo for this is a must & I hope its just the the single player demo for now, MP can wait IF I buy it. I hope this game isn't going to let everyone down because we've waited since 2005! So does the multiplayer leveling stay the same like WoW or does it reset each session? Plus, what versions are available for this.. is there going to be a collectors edition worth getting like how they created the game from going to Chernobyl?

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

Let me understand. You have the gold version, and all you get to play is multiplayer?! Crap AI, I assume then.....!

commander1122
commander1122

13 day MOre@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!nO!!!!!

vovakovtun
vovakovtun

Can’t wait to get and feel it. It’s probably because i am Ukrainian and on one side i am proud of my country making this big of a game. hehe

Star_Wars117
Star_Wars117

Finnaly after 4 years of wating for this game ( and it has been fuling my obsession with chernobyl ghost stories) its coming out. Next thing we know there disk copyers will break and they wont release till Q3 07

shrink45
shrink45

what do you mean "you people"???? :)

Hofmarskal
Hofmarskal

Is it really going to be that good? It looks a bit out of date, and cartoon like? Anyway I hope it's as good as you people say it is!

-autopsy-
-autopsy-

finaly after waiting for over 4 years!!! F#CK YEH!!!!!!!!!! i am myslef ukrainin lol so wont have probs understanding the language the guards and all talk cant wait!!! Valve better watch out for this one

sheepysheepy
sheepysheepy

years and years of waiting and well, as with many games, stalker doesnt even look revolutionary like it once did, and will probably suffer for it in review scores

Hakensou
Hakensou

Finally I'll get the chance to put my hands on THE BEST FPS OF ALL TIME... and you know what... this TIME THE BEST IS EUROPEAN! How 'bout them apples? End of discussion All haters can keep their nonsense to themselves!

Sandlynx9
Sandlynx9

One word: Finally. Now I just have to get my PC up and running before this game is released :X.

bahamut_au
bahamut_au

I'm just waiting for Gamespot to can STALKER, like they do with every other game they hype to death before its release. [/cynicism]

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

I only heard about this a few months ago, and it definitely looks interesting. Now just to see if my PC can handle it.

Dtmech
Dtmech

Damn i can't belive that this game will be released this month.I remember when i first heard about stalker i never thought stalker will be released.I hope stalker will be very good i read alot so i can't wait.Awww flesh is so cute.:D

PG213
PG213

Glad I only found out about Stalker in 2005 hehehe. Got the pre order settled a few weeks back. I'm ready for a total blow out !! I can see no way this game will dissapoint me. Thx a lot GSC gameworld.

GraveDiggerPL
GraveDiggerPL

I'be been waiting for this game since i 1st saw it O_O.Now it's about to be released.Great

Glordit
Glordit

Might Actually get it :lol:

gmax
gmax

It should be interesting to see how this game fairs in the long run...

Deamon321
Deamon321

so the crashinga and poor optimization probems are gone right?

CaribouLou5
CaribouLou5

Been itching for a decent new FPS to play, maybe this will be it. My Wii could use a rest anyways.

snackfoot007muk
snackfoot007muk

Wooo, i preorded the DVD version for this game, it should come out 23rd of this month in australia

rubenalonzo
rubenalonzo

I've been following this game for a long time, I can't wait to buy it.

The_Weekend
The_Weekend

heh heh ... sounds like the life i wanna live ... The DHL service that everyone wants to get, but no one wants to do it!