Design: Randall Montanari
The gaming world is no stranger to delays, with high-profile titles like Halo 2, Half-Life 2, and Duke Nukem Forever being delayed sometimes years beyond their original release dates. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (referred to hereafter as simply Stalker, for our sanity's sake) from Ukrainian developer GSC Game World, is another one of those titles, having initially been announced as a title way back in 2001. Originally set to be released in 2003, the game has finally arrived on shelves.
Stalker is a post-apocalyptic first-person-shooter set in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. After the reactor went critical in 1986, it flooded the surrounding area with radiation. In the game's storyline, further accidents expanded the radiation zone outward by a few kilometers, scaring the citizens in the surrounding countryside into abandoning the area. However, rumors of great treasures in the area around Chernobyl - now simply called The Zone - lured in numerous mercenaries, called stalkers, who braved the mutants and radiation in the Zone in the hopes of striking it rich.
Fittingly enough for a game originally subtitled "Oblivion Lost", Stalker plays out much like an Elder Scrolls game; you receive quests from various questgivers, and can choose to ignore them or complete them as you see fit, or simply explore the countryside. However, Stalker is a bit more focused than Oblivion was, and, in fact, there's no levelling-up to be done at all, and no experience to gain; everything you do in Stalker is based on the equipment that you find and the pure skill that you can bring to the combat.
Our game guide to Stalker is intended to help you get the most out of the game's main storyline. Read on for a bevy of tips on the game and a walkthrough to boot!