S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is a survival-horror first person shooter video game by Ukrainian developer GSC Game World, and published by THQ. It is the first installment in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. It features an alternate-reality theme, in which a second nuclear disaster occurs at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 2006 and causes strange changes in the area around it. The game has a non-linear storyline and features gameplay elements such as trading and two-way communication with NPCs. The game also incorporates elements of role-playing games and business simulators.
The background and some terminology of the game ("The Zone", "Stalker") is borrowed from the popular science fiction novella Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky and the 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker that was loosely based on it, as well as Stalker, the film's subsequent novelization, which later became the full version of Roadside Picnic.
In Shadow of Chernobyl, the player assumes the identity of an amnesiac "Stalker," an illegal explorer/artifact scavenger in "The Zone," referred to as "Marked One." "The Zone" is the location of an alternate-reality version of the Chernobyl Power Plant after a second, fictitious explosion that contaminated the surrounding area with radiation and caused strange, otherworldly changes to the local flora and fauna, as well as to the laws of physics. "Stalker" in its original film context roughly meant "explorer" or "guide", as the stalker's goal was to bring people into the Zone. The acronym S.T.A.L.K.E.R. stands for "Scavenger, Trespasser, Adventurer, Loner, Killer, Explorer, Robber."
On July 11, 2007, GSC Game World announced a prequel, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, which was released on 5 September 2008. On April 30 2009, GSC Game World announced a sequel, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, which was released worldwide in February 2010.
The plot of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is set in an alternate reality, where a second human disaster occurred in 2006 in the Zone of Alienation in Chernobyl, Ukraine, twenty years after the first incident, killing or mutating most of the inhabitants. The game is set in the year 2012, six years after, after people have begun coming to the zone in search of money, valuable artifacts, and scientific information. The Zone has been populated with illegal residents known as "stalkers", as well as the State Security Service which protects the area from outer intrusions. The Zone features many real-life landmarks such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the nearby city of Pripyat.
In keeping with the post-nuclear decay within the Zone, extreme radiation has caused mutations among animals and plants in the area. As such, Zone mutants are vastly different from their real-world counterparts (dogs, boar, crows, and many others). Additionally, some areas of the Zone contain mutated humans (e.g. Bloodsuckers, Snorks, Controllers, etc.), the majority of whom were caught in the second nuclear disaster. Note that several creatures present in the game code can only be enabled with game modification.
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) of wildlife is highly developed and presents many realistic behaviors, including pack mentality and competition for food, all observable in non-scripted events. The game engine was designed so that animal behavior is calculated even if the player is in a different part of the world.
As a result of the second Chernobyl disaster, the Zone is littered with small areas of altered physics, known as anomalies. There are several different variations, each having a unique impact upon those who cross its path. They can be potentially deadly to the player and other NPCs, delivering electric shocks, or pulling them into the air and crushing them. Most anomalies produce visible air or light distortions and their extent can be determined by throwing bolts (of which the player carries an infinite supply) to trigger them. Some Stalkers also possess an anomaly detector, which emits warning beeps of a varying frequency depending on their proximity to an anomaly.
Anomalies produce Artifacts, the valuable scientific curiosities that make the Zone worth exploring. In addition to their monetary value, a number of Artifacts can be worn to provide certain benefits, though not without cost (for example, increasing a stalker's resistance to gunfire also exposes him to slightly higher levels of radiation). Artifacts are found scattered throughout the Zone, often near clusters of anomalies.
Radiation caused by the nuclear incidents at Chernobyl occurs in specific invisible patches throughout The Zone. Although most areas in The Zone have no radiation, areas near abandoned construction equipment that was used in the post-accident cleanup, certain military wrecked vehicles, and a variety of other locations, create fields of radiation, some of which cannot be passed through without proper equipment.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl is a non-linear sandbox game. Players have relatively free reign to explore the world and have many opportunities to interact with other characters. There is, however, no free-play feature after completing the game.
The game features many first-person shooters elements. The player has access to a large amount of weapons, ranging from assault rifles, submachine guns and shotguns to pistols. The player has access to two weapon slots, one for primaries (assault rifles, shotguns, etc.), and the other for handguns. The player can also wear armor to increase their protection against hits and anomalies. Both weapons and armors also suffer from damage - the longer they use it, the more they will deteriorate. Damaged armors provide fewer protection, while damaged guns are significantly less accurate and tend to jam frequently while shooting. With certain artifacts combinations, one could repair armor, although damaged weapons must be discarded and/or replaced. Many weapon found in the game have unique variants with different statistics, that can serve as upgrades or also suit different playstyles.
Combat alternates between fighting mutated animals and hostile NPCs. Mutants will physically attack the player in swarms or by themselves, while humans fight with the same firearms available to the player - with the exception of grenades. The game features recharging health combined with a traditional health points system: if the player avoids taking damage for a period of time, health will slowly recharge. The player can speed up this process by using the different sorts of medkits, which will almost instantly heal the player to full health. As well, if the player takes damage, they will suffer from bleeding, which will slowly drain the player's health and prevent health regeneration, but is usually short and can be stopped with enhanced medkits and bandages.
As a survival game, the player must salvage supplies in order to survive. The player can salvage armor, weapons, ammunition, food and medical supplies in stashes, by looting dead bodies for completing side missions. Such supplies can also be bought from traders, although at a much higher price - money (in rubles) can be acquired by completing side missions or selling gear to traders, as the game does not feature a money looting system. Ammunition found in the game is not universal: each ammunition type is compatible with certain weapons (e.g. 5.56x45mm ammunition is compatible with NATO weapons such as the TRs 301, but not with the AKM-74/2 or similar weapons).
While S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is primarily a first-person shooter, it also features many RPG elements. The player does not gain additional abilities or statistics as in most RPGs, but is instead allowed to use various types of equipment that is either purchased or found throughout the game world. There is a large number of items in the game, so players have customization choices that are constrained primarily by how much exploring they do.
The game also attempts to blend the story and character interaction that are typical of RPGs. Unlike RPGs such as Fallout, conversation branches are extremely limited and do not significantly influence the course of the game, aside from accepting or declining missions.
The Zone is a large and varied area consisting of wilderness, human settlements, and several heavily-guarded military bases. However, the game world is not a true contiguous world, but rather 18 different maps separated by loading screens. Transfer from one area of the Zone to another can only be accomplished at certain specific passageways; barbed-wire fences and geographic features block players from attempting to cross the map in other areas.
The game lacks controllable vehicles (although vehicles are programmed in the game code, they are not available without the use of a third-party modification), so players are required to go from place to place on foot. A sprint option using a limited stamina bar can be used to temporarily increase the player's rate of movement, though this is reduced by the weight of objects the player is carrying and weapons cannot be fired while sprinting. It is possible to sprint indefinitely by using artifacts and keeping below a certain weight limit (50kg).
Finally, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl features a multi-endings system. Choices made by the player within the storyline will greatly affect the different ending sequences.
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 game opens on a convoy carrying a large amount of unconscious stalkers, for the most part deceased. The truck is later struck by lightning and crashes on the side of the road. The next morning, an anonymous stalker finds the protagonist alive, bearing a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. tattoo on his left forearm, among the dead in the crash site, and brings him to Sidorovich, a stalker trader within the Cordon. Sidorovich finds a PDA in the anonymous survivor's pockets, containing an entry reading "Kill Strelok". The stalker then suddenly wakes up.
The anonymous and amnesic stalker, dubbed as Marked One (as a reference to his tattoo) by Sidorovich, is told that he is so far the only stalker bearing such tattoo to survive the "death trucks". Sidorovich, however, makes clear that he hasn't rescued the Marked One for nothing, and asks him to do him some favors to repay. The Marked One must first rescue a stalker named Nimble, held as an hostage by a group of hostile bandits, and give Sidorovich Nimble's flash drive containing precious information.
Once given the flash drive, Sidorovich tells the Marked One more about Strelok. Strelok and his group are known to have been the first stalkers to reach the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the center of the Zone, where the legendary Wish Granter is supposedly located. Sidorovich then informs the Marked One that he and other traders are trying to find a mean of opening the way to the north, towards the power plant, which blocked by the Brain Scorcher, a mysterious location that emits psi waves powerful enough to cause intense brain damage to anyone coming too close. The first step of getting rid of the Scorcher is to steal classified documents from a military base in the Agroprom Research Institute, which is the Marked One's next task. At the same time, Sidorovich informs him about a stalker named Fox who supposedly knows something about Strelok. The Marked One helps Fox deal with a group of mutants, before being pointed towards a man named Seriy in the Garbage area. After helping Seriy against a group of bandits, he thanks the Marked One by telling him about a stalker named Mole.
Eventually the Marked One reaches the Agroprom area. However the military has already launched a raid against Mole's stalkers. The Marked One helps Mole and his group pushing back the soldiers before evacuating. Mole leads the Marked One to the entrance of the Agroprom Underground, while telling him Strelok has a hideout in the underground. Fighting his way through bandits and soldiers, the Marked One finds the hideout, containing various supplies as well as a flash drive, allowing him to identify two of Strelok's close friends: Fang, who turns out to be deceased, and Ghost. The Marked One later breaches in the military camp to find the documents, and brings them to a stalker known as Barkeep, the owner of the 100 Rads bar in Rostok, the territory of the Duty faction.
The documents reveal further information about a former laboratory known as Lab X-18. The Barkeep however only owns one of the two keys to the laboratory, and has the Marked One find the other, held by the Bandits leader Borov in the Dark Valley. While there, the Marked One is able to provide help to a Duty stalker named Bullet to rescue two other captive Dutyers. The Marked One raids the bandits' base and kills Borov, allowing him to secure the second key, before proceeding inside the laboratory X-18.
Using keycodes found on the bodies of dead former members of the research team, the Marked One finds yet more documents revealing that the laboratory was used to conduct experiments related to psi emissions, and was abandoned after being overrun by the mutated test subjects. However, as he grabs the documents, the Marked One falls unconscious and has a vision of Strelok standing in front of the Sarcophagus. As he wakes up, the area however has been invaded by the Special Forces. The Marked One then escapes the area, while cutting through the Cordon - where Sidorovich can provide the player another mission to retrieve documents from the Military checkpoint.
The Marked One delivers the X-18 documents to Barkeep. The documents reveal that the Brain Scorcher was indeed man-made, and mention a Lab X-16 in Yantar. The Marked One then reaches Yantar through the Wild Territory, where he is able to escort Professor Kruglov and protect him against hostile mercenaries.
Upon his arrival at Yantar, the Marked One meets Professor Sakharov in his bunker. Sakharov informs the player of the existence of Lab X-16 beneath the Yantar factory, and that the laboratory apparently hosts a powerful Kaymanov emitter similar to the Brain Scorcher, able to zombify nearby humans. Sakharov first asks the player to help Kruglov (or Semenov in case Kruglov died) take radiation measurements in order to help Sakharov make a Psi-helmet which provides its user an efficient protection against psi emissions. Depending on if the player manages to complete the mission or not, the player will be able to get a better psi-protection helmet providing more effective protection.
With the helmet in his possession, the Marked One finds the body of Vasiliev, who was supposed to get into Lab X-16 with Ghost, then enters the laboratory. Protected from the intense emissions with Sakharov's helmet, the Marked One disables the emitter, resulting in him losing consciousness again, where he has another vision of Strelok, after being healed by his friend Doctor, wanting to return once again to the "north". After disabling the emitter, the Marked One finds the body of Ghost (who was hired by Sakharov to cover Vasiliev, but was left behind and was killed by a Controller), and learns that Ghost was scheduled to meet with Guide.
After getting the documents from Ghost, the Marked One receives a tip from Guide that Doc is in Strelok's hideout. The Marked One heads back to the hideout in the Agroprom Underground and as he enters the hideout, he triggers a booby trap that nearly kills him. He is rescued by Doc who informs him that he (the Marked One) was Strelok all along. Doc tells Strelok that the Wish Granter is a fly trap and asks him to investigate, while giving him a key to the Pripyat Hotel containing the decoder that can open a door within the sarcophagus.
After bringing the documents to Barkeep, Strelok heads for the heavily-defended Red Forest, defended by Monolith fanatics, extremely fanatical stalkers who worship the Wish Granter, referring to it as the Monolith, and kill anyone attempting to access it. Strelok reaches the Lab X-19 beneath the antennas and disables the antennas, where he has a final vision of Strelok crawling inside the sarcophagus, facing the Wish Granter. With the antennas deactivated, Strelok heads for the abandoned city of Pripyat, the final stop before the power plant, after being informed by the Barkeep that a group of experts Loners will help him fight through the city.
The pressure is on at this stage. Pripyat has been turned into a street war between Loners, Duty, Freedom, Mercenaries, Military Special Forces and the Monolith faction, which tries to contain the recently-arrived stalkers from reaching the center of the Zone within the heavily-fortified city. A group of expert Loners helps Strelok push through the war-torn streets, having to face many problems. Strelok has to survive multiple Monolith ambushes until he reaches an underground car park, where he and the Loners split up. After making his way through the Palace of Culture, the Monolith faction's main headquarters, the only thing that's left is the old stadium, the final stop in the city before reaching the outskirts of the nuclear power plant.
Strelok eventually makes his way to the Chernobyl facility, also held and viciously fortified by Monolith forces. As he arrives, the military launches an operation codenamed "Monolith", another attempt to take control of the center of the Zone, resulting in a three-way firefight between the Monolith fighters protecting the site, the army experts and Strelok himself. Forced to take cover in the sarcophagus as an emission is about to strike, Strelok discovers the giant Wish Granter artifact within the destroyed reactor as well as a secret laboratory underneath it, where he is once again confronted by the Monolith, who are swarming in the sarcophagus. There is harsh resistance, but Strelok pulls through. Inside the heavily defended lab is a large holographic terminal, through which an entity calling itself the "Common Consciousness" communicates. It readily answers Strelok's questions, revealing what it is, who Strelok is, and the events prior to his amnesia.
In the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet Union decided to use the Exclusion Zone for special research into the human mind. The group stationed within the Zone could bring results such as enhanced ESP and the Project 62. The USSR was dissolved in 1991, however the new independant Ukraine was powerless in putting an end to the Soviet experiments within the Zone, allowing the scientists to continue on with their research on the human mind unhindered. The scientists' work eventually led to the discovery of the noosphere, an invisible field of energy surrounding the Earth linked by, affected by and affecting human minds and thoughts. Soon the scientific breakthroughs that began to take place influenced the researchers to find a way to influence humanity psychically on a global scale using the Noosphere, by removing negative factors such as cruelty. This led to the eventual formation of a hivemind of seven neurally linked scientists known as the Common Consciousness. The first intervention took place on March 4, 2006 and failed due to a power outage. A month later, on April 12, the experiment was performed again and this time it continued until its completion. However, it did not have the desired effect - instead, the generators used by the experiment created a rift in the Noosphere and allowed it to directly affect the biosphere, creating a large area where physical laws were outright broken and mysterious phenomena not understood by modern science manifested themselves - the Zone.
Realizing that the underlying problem was far greater than expected, the scientists decided to work to attempt to 'fix' the rift in the Noosphere, or at least contain it so that the Zone could not expand onto the rest of the planet. However soon the new and extraordinary phenomena induced by the noosphere attracted illegal personnel known as "stalkers", scientists, and the military. In order to defend itself from external intrusions, believing that humanity is not ready for the truth, the C-Consciousness erected the Wish Granter in the destroyed reactor #4, and used the powerful Brain Scorcher antennas to block the roads to the center of the Zone. Other means of protection included the Monolith faction, which is mostly comprised of former stalkers brainwashed by the Brain Scorcher's psi emissions into serving the C-Consciousness, and the emissions, which were used by the scientists to both release the excess of energy within the noosphere and defend themselves from intrusions.
Rumors of the Wish Granter began to spread throughout the Zone. A group of four stalkers, Strelok, Ghost, Fang, and Doc, attempted to reach the Wish Granter by battling on their way to Chernobyl, but after encountering the fanatical Monolith faction and a code-locked door inside the sarcophagus, they were forced to retreat - Strelok was heavily wounded by an emission during the escape. The group attempted a second journey to the center, however Fang was killed in the meantime, and Ghost was killed at Yantar after a job for Sakharov gone wrong. Strelok, alone, made his way to the Sarcophagus by himself, only to be intercepted by the Clear Sky faction and their ally Scar at the plant. In the midst of the final confrontation, the C-Consciousness released a powerful emission to defend itself, wiping out most of the Clear Sky fighters.
Strelok, knocked unconscious by the resulting emission, was discovered by the C-Consciousness; unaware of his identity, it had him brainwashed, reprogrammed him and mistakenly assigned him the task of killing himself. On the way out of the Zone the truck carrying the still unconscious Strelok was destroyed in a lightning storm and he was discovered by another passing stalker, leading to his discovery by Sidorovich.
Once the C-Consciousness has finished answering Strelok's questions he is given a choice: merge with the C-Consciousness to ensure its continued existence, or stop the C-Consciousness from continuing its experiments. Strelok refuses to assist the C-Consciousness. He is transported to the exterior of the Chernobyl plant, where he navigates his way through teleportation anomalies, elite Monolith soldiers and mutants in order to reach the source of the C-Consciousness. Once inside, Strelok shoots the encapsulated scientists which form the C-Consciousness.
Afterwards, Strelok is shown standing in a grassy field, watching the sky as the clouds break and the sun comes out. The Zone is apparently gone. He questions whether or not he made the right decision, but as he lies down in the grass he concludes that while he may never know what was right, he is happy that he survived. He lies down on the grass and falls asleep.
For the alternate endings, see S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl endings
X-Ray graphics engine
The X-Ray Engine is a DirectX 8.1/9 Shader Model 3.0 graphics engine. Up to a million polygons can be on-screen at any one time. The engine features HDR rendering, Parallax mapping and normal mapping, soft shadows, motion blur, widescreen support, weather effects, and day/night cycles. As with other engines that use deferred shading, the X-Ray Engine does not support anti-aliasing with dynamic lighting enabled. However, a "fake" form of anti-aliasing can be enabled with the static lighting option; this form uses a blurring technique to simulate anti-aliasing. The game takes place in a thirty-square-kilometer area, and both the outside and inside of this area are rendered to the same amount of detail. Some textures in the game were photographs of the walls in the developers' studio.
As of patch 1.0003, the X-Ray engine supports "surround screen" monitor setups, including a 16:9 native resolution ratio. A community-developed patch also enables setting a custom field of view and aspect ratio combination.
The X-ray engine uses GSC Game World's proprietary A-Life artificial intelligence engine. A-Life supports more than 1,000 characters inhabiting the Zone. These characters are non-scripted, meaning that AI life can be developed even when not in contact with the player.
The NPCs have a full life cycle (task accomplishment, combat, rest, feeding, and sleep) and the same applies to the many monsters living in the Zone (hunting, attacking Stalkers and other monsters, resting, eating, sleeping). These monsters migrate in large groups. The non-scripted nature of the characters means that there are an unlimited number of random quests. For instance, rescuing Stalkers from danger, destroying Stalker renegades, protecting or attacking Stalker camps, or searching for treasure. The AI characters travel around the entire zone as they see fit.
Numerous tactics can be employed to complete the game, such as rushing or using stealth and sniping. The NPCs will react in a different way to each of them. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s NPCs plan ahead by "Goal-Oriented Action Planning" to achieve this.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl uses a heavily modified version of the ODE physics engine. Ragdoll physics, destructible objects, realistic bullet ballistics and skeletal animation can all be found in the game.
The game's use of bullet physics is similar in nature to tactical shooters such as Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter or Operation Flashpoint. Bullets are affected by gravity, bounce against solid surfaces at oblique angles, and firearms are highly inaccurate when fired without aiming. To score consistent hits at medium or long range, players must aim using the iron sights on their guns. Additionally, hit damage is pseudo-realistic, and the player can die after only being shot a few times (although later in the game various armor suits and artifacts can be acquired that increase the player's resistance to damage). Success late in the game depends heavily on scoped weaponry because of the well-armed and armored enemies who keep their distance from the player. 
A weather system is integrated into various parts of the landscape and allows a variety of weather effects, such as sunshine, storms, and showers. The weapons available, behavior of the AI, game tactics, and ranking systems depend on the weather.
Development delay, leak and release
The game was first announced in November 2001 and had its release date, originally in 2003, pushed back several times. Meanwhile hundreds of screenshots of the game had been released, as well as dozen preview video clips, accompanied by other forms of promotion by GSC, such as inviting fans to their offices in Kiev to play the current build of the game. However, due to the delays some considered S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to be vaporware.
In late December 2003, a pre-alpha build of the game was leaked to peer-to-peer file sharing networks. This build, marked as version 1096, inadvertently acted as a fully-functional tech demo of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s engine, despite its lack of NPC enemies and fauna.
In February 2005, THQ expressed desire to see the game released toward the end of its 2006 fiscal year (March 31, 2006) but maintained that no release date had been set. In October, 2005, THQ confirmed that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. would not be out "until the second half of THQ's 2007 fiscal year - October 2006 at the earliest." In February of 2006, THQ revised this possible release window, saying the game would not be in stores until the first quarter of 2007.
In an interview at the Russian Gameland Awards, PR Manager Oleg Yavorsky indicated that release was planned for September 2006.
THQ ran a competition in January 2007 offering the lucky winners the chance to play the beta version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., in a 24 hour marathon session. The event, scheduled to take place on the January 24, 2007, was subsequently changed to a 12 hour session days before it was supposed to occur. On the morning of the event, the winners were met at the venue by the THQ staff that had organized the event, who were embarrassed to report that they had been unable to get any copies of the game. In late February GSC managed to release a public beta. A multiplayer demo was released to the public on March 15, 2007.
Originally S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was known as Oblivion Lost and was much different. Instead of being set in a modern day setting in the Zone, Oblivion Lost was set in a futuristic setting.
Lots of content was cut and/or altered from the game during development. The storyline and ending were considerably different and many quests were changed or not included. The C-Consciousness was instead named U-Consciousness, short for United Consciousness. Sometime during the game, the player would join Duty.
Two factions were removed from the game: Sin and Last Day. The latter is still mentioned in Shadow of Chernobyl by the Barkeep, referred to as Final Day. Their leader was supposedly eliminated by Ghost. They predicted that doomsday was coming and the Zone would critically increase its territory and engulf other countries. They hunted down zombies, studied psy-influences, and made their own theories on psychotropic weaponry, a more important factor of the original game.
Many gameplay concepts were removed from the game, such as strange creatures that would appear as boss fights with very unique abilities. At one point, the player would assist Duty in preventing a virus outbreak from a nearby infected town. A parasite would infect the victim, devouring their brains, gradually replacing the head with a tumor. The victim would still be alive, but their bodies would be controlled by the parasite. Some of the victim's skills could be used, and they'd shoot off a cloud of spore as an attack. If anyone was hit by these spores, they would become infected.
At the end of the game, the player reaches the CNPP and secret lab. After surviving a dynamic assault from a strange boss fight, the player is captured and put under control of The Group. He is sent to the outside world to broadcast a message, and in the end the Zone increases its territory.
In addition, many locations were cut, several anomalies never made it into the game, many mutants were cut or never implemented, several weapons were cut, and many gameplay features were cut.
|Compilation review site||Aggregate score|
|Game Rankings||83% (51 reviews)|
|Metacritic||82/100 (44 reviews)|
Upon the game's release, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. received generally favorable reviews, with an average critic rating of 83% at Game Rankings. While the game was praised for its style and depth, other reviewers addressed certain technical issues, mentioning the number of bugs present.
The game design of the Zone was one of the most favored aspects. GameSpot praised the style and level design, stating "This is a bleak game, but in a good way, as it captures its post apocalyptic setting perfectly," while Eurogamer called it "one of the scariest games on the PC" going on to say "Like the mythological Chernobyl zone it is based upon, this game is a treacherous, darkly beautiful terrain."
Game Informer didn't find the gameplay particularly innovative, but still complimented the basic FPS design, saying, "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. isn’t the revolution that we all hoped it would be. It is, however, a respectable and sometimes excellent first-person adventure" whereas GameSpot called it "one of the best ballistics models ever seen in a game, and as a result, firefights feel authentic as you try and hit someone with what can be a wildly inaccurate rifle."
Upon release, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was said to have numerous bugs, especially when used with the then-recently released Windows Vista. IGN found the game "tended to stutter quite often, sometimes pausing for three or four seconds at regular intervals, which occurred on two different Windows XP rigs at maximum visual quality", with even some cases of complete game crashing glitches.
In December, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. won the Special Achievement award for Best Atmosphere in GameSpot's Best and Worst 2007, that "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. captures the "ghost town" nature of the zone, from the abandoned cities to the overgrown wilderness. Then, the game adds its own paranormal elements, which help make a spooky environment almost terrifying at times."
As of September 2008, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has sold 2 million copies worldwide. GSC Game World CEO Sergiy Grygorovych has said "We are very pleased that S.T.A.L.K.E.R. became so popular among players from all over the world. Financial success will allow us to develop S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in different directions as a brand." 
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- Widescreen Gaming Forum :: View topic - Solution: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. [Patch]
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- IGN Editorial Team. "Top 10 Tuesday: Modern Vaporware". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/701/701364p1.html. Retrieved 2007-03-31.
- "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Pre-Alpha Leaked". MegaGames. http://www.megagames.com/news/html/pc/stalkerpre-alphaleaked.shtml. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
- David Adams. "S.T.A.L.K.E.R Delayed". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/584/584913p1.html. Retrieved 2007-03-31.
- THQ lessens loss, talks next-gen, by Tor Thorsen, Gamespot.com
- THQ announces holiday results, delays Stalker, by Brendan Sinclair, Gamespot.com
- "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. goes gold". GSC Game World. http://www.stalker-game.com/en/?page=archive_news&subpage=3&item=17. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
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