S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Updated Impressions

We get a brief, updated look at GSC GameWorld's ambitious PC game at Nvidia's Editors' Day 2003.

We saw an updated version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost, GSC GameWorld's ambitious and graphically impressive PC game, at a recent press event held by graphics card manufacturer Nvidia. Though the developer showcased the same physics demo it showed at this year's ECTS, it also showed off an all-new demonstration that displayed the game's dynamic day-and-night cycles. The demonstration featured a new location, an actual Russian city that appears to be deserted and run-down in the game.

The demonstration showed even more of the remarkable graphical detail that GSC GameWorld is including in its environments, especially in the game's photo-realistic texture maps. Since S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in a futuristic (but otherwise realistically rendered) version of the Chernobyl reactor site, members of GSC GameWorld's staff have visited the actual site on two separate occasions and have taken more than 1,000 photographs of the surrounding areas over the course of the game's development. About 60 percent of the game's environments are based on real-world locations. The new city was full of towering apartment buildings rotted with age and a few central fixtures, such as a Ferris wheel in the town square. We also got a chance to see the game's impressive dynamic sky, which reflected pink and orange sunlight across its animated clouds before the sky darkened completely. The flow of time in the demonstration was sped up to demonstrate the day-to-night transition and showed the clouds parting to reveal a luminous full moon and a sky full of stars.

We also had a chance to briefly explore the streets of this city, which were crawling with huge, fat rats that scurried away at our approach. Since S.T.A.L.K.E.R. monitors your character's hunger as well as health and endurance, you may be forced to hunt and kill rats, or small birds, and devour them to survive. However, if these animals happened to be irradiated, your character may contract radiation poisoning, which can be cured only with special medicinal tablets or a good swig of everyone's favorite detoxifier, vodka.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost is scheduled for release in the first half of 2004. We'll have more updates on this promising game as soon as they become available.

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