S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat is the third installment in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, a first-person shooter and survival horror video game developed by GSC Game World and published by BitComposer Entertainment. The game serves as a sequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. The graphics engine has been updated to version 1.6 and includes DirectX 11 support, however still has the same basic system requirements used by all S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat was first released in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Czech Republic and Germany on October 2, 2009. The American version was released on February 2, 2010, the European version was released on February 5 (2010) with the game releasing on February 23 (2010) in Australia.
This game combines elements of survival horror (ammo scavenging, frightening atmosphere with powerful monsters), first-person shooters ("twitch-based" aiming, i.e. no leveling system or "skillsets"), and role-playing games (inventory management, quests, character interaction, armors and defense stats).
The gameplay changes from Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky include an improved HUD, with better stealth support, a much improved side quest system and improved A-Life (modified using the players' best-liked elements from the first two games in the series), featuring NPCs now exploring the different areas during daytime before resting in safe areas at night. New features include emissions having a chance to spawn artifacts in already looted anomalies while killing everything outside at the time (NPCs now seek shelter), sleep being added to the game (available in friendly bases - Skadovsk, Yanov Station, and the Laundromat in Pripyat), a free-play mode available after finishing the game, and achievements - each coming with its own advantages/disadvantages.
Changes from Clear Sky (i.e. customization of armor/weapons, detectors needed for finding artifacts, etc.) remained in the game as well. However, the faction wars system was dropped to streamline gameplay.
New features include variants of the PSO-1 scope and the SUSAT scope with each having its own effect, such as integral night vision or different zoom level. A new weapon, the Eliminator shotgun, was added, based on the Armsel Protecta. The upgrade tree system returns from Clear Sky, although with a few differences: technicians can apply most upgrades to weapons, however in the case of Cardan and Nitro they will need tools in order to perform upgrade tiers (the first toolkit unlocks tier 1 upgrades, etc.). Novikov can perform only some armor upgrades although it will require the player to do some missions first.
Get out of here stalker!
This page contains spoilers to the game's final plot. It is advised you skip this section or page if you haven't completed the game yet!
The events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat unfold shortly after the end of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. After Strelok deactivated the Brain Scorcher and opened a way towards the north, the State Security Service decides to launch a military assault, codenamed Operation Fairway, to take the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant from the Monolith guardians for good. According to the operation's plan, maps are to be made of the territory, detailing anomalous field locations. Thereafter, making use of these maps, the main military force is to be dispatched.
Despite thorough preparations, the operation fails and all five of the helicopters crash. In order to collect information on reasons behind the operation's failure, the SBU sends their agent Major Alexander Degtyarev to investigate.
Disguised as a stalker, Major Degtyarev explores newly-discovered territories within the center of the Zone (Zaton and Yanov) while looking for the crashed Stingray helicopters. Degtyarev's cover allows him to also work for various faction members within the zone, and get involved in factions conflicts. The Major discovers that most of the crashes were caused by strong jolts of electricity. While investigating the Stingray 3 wreck, Degtyarev finds out that the military had established evacuations points in the center of the Zone. Decrypting the Stingray 1 black box, Degtyarev learns that the survivors headed for evacuation point B28 in the city of Pripyat waiting for evacuation. However, the city of Pripyat is sealed and is only accessible through the Jupiter Underground. He forms a team consisting of Zulu - an ex-Duty member, and any number of the following candidates: Vano - a loner, Strider - a Monolith deserter and Lieutenant Sokolov - the sole survivor and co-pilot of Stingray 4, and also the only surviving soldier not in Pripyat. With the help of the local technician called Nitro, they finally get into the tunnel leading to Pripyat. The tunnel is full of deadly gas and mutants, and they're ambushed by the Monolith just before getting out of it.
After leaving the tunnel, they are ambushed by a Military squadron, who take them to their base where the Major meets with their leader, Colonel Kovalsky. It becomes clear that the survivors of Operation Fairway are locked in battle with Monolith forces scattered throughout the city and taking heavy casualties. After eliminating pockets of Monolith presence, the Major learns about an underground laboratory, Lab X-8, and discovers top secret documents about its operations as well as experiments conducted in the Zone. When he returns, Kovalsky speaks with Degtyarev and asks him to destroy a Monolith radio jammer in the Kindergarten allowing them to communicate with the HQ again. Not long after, they detect a moving signal which they believed to be a Monolith squad attempting to attack the few remaining survivors. He finds out that it is in fact Strelok, coming to the army base.
Strelok tells them that he has invaluable information about the Zone that would be of help to the government. He also explains the reason why the choppers fell - even though they had mapped out the anomalies, they didn't know that with each emission, the anomalies change places leading to the failure of the operation. They have to wait until the end of another emission to send out a new anomaly map to a rescue unit. They are successful, and two choppers arrive to extract the survivors, including the Major and Strelok, near the Prometheus cinema. They are ambushed several times on the way by mutants and zombies, but managed to finally reach the plaza, where the rescue unit is under heavy fire from Monolith troops. With the help of the survivors and the Major, the Military fights back and are able to extract in the choppers.
The ending slideshow appears, telling the player what has happened after the escape. Major Degtyarev is given the opportunity to be promoted to the rank of Colonel which he declines - he later becomes the head of the Security Service in the Zone. Strelok - if he survives the finale - gives all the materials he had found in the Zone to the government, prompting the creation of a Scientific Institute for Research of the Chernobyl Anomalous Area, with Strelok taking up the position of chief scientific consultant. Kovalsky, if he survives the finale, is forced to explain the reasons for Operation Fairway's failure. After a drawn-out investigation and the brass' failed attempt to make him the scapegoat for the failure of the operation, Kovalsky receives an honorable discharge. The rest of the slideshow depends on the player's actions in side quests and their relations to minor characters - spanning up to 10 slides in some endings.
For all available endings, see S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Endings
Call of Pripyat boasts by far the largest cast of characters in a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game yet; unlike Shadow of Chernobyl, many NPCs can be interacted with beyond merely asking of rumors, and play pivotal roles in side quests - sometimes even multiple quests. The player's actions towards them form a large part of the experience in Call of Pripyat - no two games will be exactly the same.
- State Security Service – The armed forces of Ukraine, dispatched to the center of the zone with the task of trying to learn more about the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and ultimately to control the area. They are constantly harassed by the Monolith faction.
- Loners – Nomadic groups of stalkers who have united because of the acts of aggression committed against them from the Military and Bandits. Their main base in Call of Pripyat is Skadovsk, an old shipwreck in Zaton.
- Bandits – A loose collection of criminals and brigands. Not hostile to the player, but they are hostile to Loners and the other factions. They hold several unorganized bases and camps throughout the area around Jupiter and Zaton.
- Duty – A para-military group trying to "kill" the Zone and stop it from spreading. They consider the Zone to be alive and evil. Duty and Freedom are at war with each other, but both are based in the Yanov train station, which is a mutual cease-fire zone.
- Freedom – A faction of stalkers trying to make the Zone available for everyone, so that mankind can understand this wonder. They believe that the Zone is a gift to mankind which should be free to everyone and no one should tell them otherwise (hence the name Freedom). Based in Yanov, together with Duty.
- Mercenaries – Hired by various unnamed contractors, they will do any job for the right sum of money. Their primary objectives are to secure and investigate the secret labs under Pripyat and elsewhere in the Zone.
- Monolith – A faction that has fanatically religious interests in the Zone. They were once regular stalkers, until they were brain-washed by the C-Consciousness and are now the unquestioning foot soldiers of the C-Con. Hostile to all.
- Ecologists – Stationed in a mobile lab in Yanov, they are scientists who have come to investigate and study the Zone, learn more about anomalies, artifacts and mutants, and develop experimental equipment associated with the Zone. They also believe that the Zone is a gift to mankind; however, unlike Freedom they don't believe in violence to achieve their goals. Neutral to all.
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Call of Pripyat has received generally positive reviews.
Contrary to its predecessor, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, the game has been lauded for its well optimized gameplay with relatively few bugs and glitches, for example, Gamespot said, "The most stable S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game yet also happens to be the most atmospheric and compelling."
Other reviews by websites previously opposed to new titles in the series have also given Call of Pripyat positive reviews. While Eurogamer rated the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise's previous installment (Clear Sky) to be a significant disappointment, they gave more positive feedback in their review of the recent addition, saying "Only the slight sensation of datedness prevents this from scoring higher, and no doubt once the mods start flowing the value for money will get even better. But there's plenty here to keep the faithful feeling extremely optimistic about the prospect of a proper sequel. And there's still nothing out there quite like STALKER."
Though the reviews of the game's Artificial Intelligence system were positive, Gamespot did note that the Combat AI at times seemed unfairly good, and that "Human enemies facing away from you have the uncanny ability to notice when you peek out a window behind them and are remarkably good shots in the dead of night, even without night vision scopes equipped." However, "[D]espite a bit of cheating, Call of Pripyat rarely feels unfair."
X-Ray Engine 1.6
- Call of Pripyat features the X-Ray 1.6 graphics engine. The main difference from X-Ray 1.5 (used in Clear Sky) is DirectX 11 support, including GPU tessellation.
Trailer thumb|300px|center|Call of Pripyat trailer
- "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Review for PC - Gamespot". http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/stalkercallofpripyat/review.html. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
- "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat Review - Page 2 (PC) Eurogamer". http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/stalker-call-of-pripyat-review?page=2. Retrieved 2010-02-18.