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

Developer: GSC Game World Publisher: THQ
20 March 2007
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.91 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
1,187 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#311 All-time
#10 for 2007
After waking up in the Zone, a mysterious and irradiated area around the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in Ukraine, a man with amnesia must brave the Zone's many dangers, both human and inhuman, to find a man named Strelok.
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Title
Good for its time, but far from essential in the modern day
An interesting (for its time) blend of FPS, immersive sim, and open world RPG, that boasts a fascinating and inspired setting and narrative premise, but which doesn't necessarily stand up to modern scrutiny.

From an overall design perspective, the bulk of this game reminded me greatly of a modern-era fallout game, particularly Fallout: New Vegas. Given that the release of SoC marginally preceded that of Fallout 3, I can understand why contemporary critics praised it so highly for its originality and innovative synthesis of genres. It's historically significant, for sure. As a modern player experiencing it for the first time in 2023, however, it's more-or-less impossible to play a game like this without comparing it to Fallout, and to Bethesda's modern RPGs more generally, and, unfortunately, I'm not sure that SoC comes out of this comparison looking especially good.

For a start, this is unquestionably amongst the shoddiest games I've ever tried to play on a technical level. I've had everything from objects, characters, and even the camera violently clipping through the world, to enemies shooting me through walls, to scripts that break on reloading saves, to buttons that only work when they feel like it, to areas bugging and becoming inaccessible. The list goes on. None of it quite goes so far as to be completely game breaking, but, at times, it's pretty close, and it certainly impacted my experience on more than a cosmetic level. Things are rendered all the more frustrating by the game design, which is frequently very clumsy and awkward or, with regards to the companion A.I. and certain elements of the combat as two examples, just idiotic. All of these problems become particularly egregious in the game's finale, when things effectively transform into a linear FPS, but with all the milsim elements in-tact and the new threat of unavoidable radiation exposure, creating one of the biggest and most poorly signposted difficulty spikes I've ever experienced in a game. Not a good bit of design at all, in my view, and indicative of wider issues more generally.

The problems go deeper than just technical presentation, however. In terms of vision, this felt to me like a game stuck in an awkward halfway house between an FPS and a full-on open-world role-playing game. With the exception of substantially more grounded and uncompromising combat and survival systems, which do definitely heighten immersion, there isn't really anything innovative that SoC does from a role-playing and immersive sim / immersive story-telling perspective which the Fallout games (and other modern open-world RPGs with immersive sim influences) haven't now done much better. And, more importantly, it lacks a great deal that more traditional RPGs are known for. Probably my biggest gripe when playing SoC was how superficial, narrow, and oddly macho the whole experience often felt, when compared to playing something like Fallout: New Vegas. Where the Fallout games offer a richer human experience - placing a heavy emphasis on narrative, environmental story-telling, characterisation, and writing in general, and providing almost unparalleled opportunities for role-playing in a fictional world that go beyond just combat strategy - SoC feels much more cold, like a wonkishly technical milsim FPS transposed into an open-world, and overlaid with a fascinating setting and narrative premise which it then proceeds to never fully emphasise or explore to the extent that I wanted it to. There's some great world-building and atmosphere here, but, throughout my play-through, I was always left wanting more - more lore, stronger plotting, stronger characters, more clearly defined factions, more emphasis on the philosophical and artistic sensibilities that defined the source novel (and its excellent but very different Tarkovsky film adaptation), and more opportunities to form a meaningful emotional connection to this world and its people. In general, and especially towards the end, the game design didn't seem to accommodate for any of this, instead zeroing in on a much more standard and old-fashioned FPS gameplay loop of shooting and looting, which I personally find deeply uninteresting.

If you love FPS games, or have a soft spot for hardcore milsims, this game might be for you. To me, however, it mostly played like a shoddily-produced shadow of the things I love about Bethesda RPGs. It's historically significant, yes, but, in 2023, I'd take Fallout over this any day of the week.
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Mysteron5 2023-07-13T06:37:12Z
2023-07-13T06:37:12Z
3.0
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A Groundbreaking Immersive Sim That’s Not Without Fault
Easily one of the most immersive and atmospheric games Ive ever played. Genuinely feels like SoC set the stage for games like Fallout New Vegas with it’s non linear story telling and character interactions. Sure the story is nothing ground breaking but provides a perfect enough pretext to set out and explore the zone setting in motion an addicting gameplay loop: finding new loot, meeting new characters, discovering rare artifacts, etc… A solid game through-and-through, but I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. I had two MAJOR issues with this one that caused an otherwise amazing game to feel incredibly unpleasant to play at times:

- The amount of backtracking is atrocious. I swear half my play time was spent running between point A and point B to complete missions (endurance artifacts are ESSENTIAL, for sake of your sanity). Having the option to fast travel to and from missions upon starting and completing them in Call of Pripyat was a welcome inclusion.

- The final act is pretty bad, especially when compared to the rest of the game. It suddenly becomes a generic FPS game and throws everything else that made the game so great out the window. Ubering your way through waves of Monolith soldiers goes against every core philosophy this game had been perfectly setting up up until this point. Out with a simmer, not a bang.

Regardless of it’s faults, Stalker SoC has quickly become and all time person favorite of mine. You’d be hard pressed to find any other game like it!
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tyler_keeble 2022-12-27T04:49:29Z
2022-12-27T04:49:29Z
4.0
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GSC Game World's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is an FPS that - much like Fallout, is set in an alternate post-nuclear timeline but in a more contemporary context. While sharing many traits with open-world RPGs (durability, carry weight, reactive NPCs, weather system, factions, etc.), this brand gave a familiar twist to the formula: Their combination of grotesque mobs, drab colors and punishing gameplay updates the dismal, oppressive atmosphere of Morrowind to the modern shooter age. What is uniquely theirs - however, are Anomalies, supernatural beings lifted from plenty of horror tropes (often invincible and lethal) that induce helplessness and terror the way only Metroid's best examples could. Its economy, equipment and customization also stand apart in the way they rely on scavenging over dungeon looting, thanks to the abundance of enemy drops and especially to its randomly-spawning artifacts; half-equipment, half-valuables contained in dangerously arranged areas (usually in a minefield of Anomalies).

Gameplay is saturated with intense moments, from lopsided firefights to navigating dark, dingy spaces, to treasure hunting and claustrophobic encounters, blurring the line between horror shocks and action thrills. Its heavy enemy damage (even on normal difficulty), sneaky A.I., and the frequency of status ailments sustain this feeling of desperation and survival; and the result pretty much inspires a return to base instincts after the apocalypse, where 'character progression' is determined not so much by incrementing stats but by the human tradition of hunting & gathering. On the downside, the rough charm of combat is undermined by some wonky enemy feedback, while its lengthy areas tend to make backtracking a little wearing.
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Blah_Blee 2022-06-07T23:33:27Z
2022-06-07T23:33:27Z
7 /10
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Inbetween all of the tedium and jank are some of the most absolutely beautiful and immersive moments I have ever had playing a video game.
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cringeybabey 2021-05-27T20:53:27Z
2021-05-27T20:53:27Z
3.5
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grandmaster of FPS game design, its tacticool, its stategic, its challenging, its rewarding, its mezmerizing, relaxing, thrilling all in one package. the inventory system is cool, the gunplay is difficult as fuck (and seems wack) but its actually great once you learn it. the missions are memorable, what a great game.
unfortunately the quicksave, savescumming system makes it so you are at best suited to save every 30 seconds, after every major action, so it actually feels like your actions have value, rather than just reloading a quicksave everytime something bad happens, that kind of game design is just unfun and not very well thought out, so i'm conflicted on a score..
9/10
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darkrecollections 2020-09-03T20:42:32Z
2020-09-03T20:42:32Z
4.5
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Even 10 years after the release of Shadow of Chernobyl, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise retains a trusty fanbase. Situated in the Zone of Alienation around the former soviet Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the game blends the genre First Person Shooter with an inventory system known from RPGs to survive an immersive radioactive open world.


An active modding community has created numerous mods or Shadow of Chernobyl and the subsequent games that improve graphics or provide different maps, equipent and (often russian) storylines.
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Soulblydd 2016-08-03T18:12:09Z
2016-08-03T18:12:09Z
5.0
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Catalog

The_Groblin S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-04-14T20:14:32Z
2024-04-14T20:14:32Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
XterminatoR666 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-04-10T12:48:27Z
Windows
2024-04-10T12:48:27Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
UltraKat1337 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-04-07T11:39:29Z
2024-04-07T11:39:29Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
g0fff3r S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-04-05T04:48:42Z
2024-04-05T04:48:42Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PvtFunnyGuy S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-04-04T22:26:53Z
2024-04-04T22:26:53Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LesbianKit S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-04-03T20:26:46Z
2024-04-03T20:26:46Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Fictionous S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-03-31T21:54:45Z
2024-03-31T21:54:45Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
1realhumanbean S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-03-31T09:11:31Z
2024-03-31T09:11:31Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
stillnotasaint S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-03-30T14:24:34Z
2024-03-30T14:24:34Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Obywatel S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-03-28T15:52:52Z
2024-03-28T15:52:52Z
3.5
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gijo777 S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-03-27T01:26:42Z
2024-03-27T01:26:42Z
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OffModel S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl 2024-03-26T16:44:44Z
2024-03-26T16:44:44Z
3.5
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Content rating
ESRB: M
Player modes
1-32 players
Media
1x DVD
Multiplayer modes
Deathmatch / FFA, Team play
Multiplayer options
LAN, Online
Franchises
Also known as
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Тень Чернобыля
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Cień Czarnobyla
  • View all [3] Hide

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  • Previous comments (85) Loading...
  • yungbono 2023-10-21 15:31:30.369453+00
    Life changing game
    reply
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  • renegadexavier06 2023-12-20 13:32:49.18631+00
    reply
    • ZinestheticLuminescence 2024-01-20 20:37:22.772944+00
      lmao
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  • MusicN00b 2024-01-22 04:11:00.215452+00
    Life changing game [2]
    reply
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  • TheRealJimMorrison 2024-01-22 10:52:34.952201+00
    This is a live one
    reply
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  • Hendrix77 2024-03-22 12:35:33.080232+00
    For everybody playing on the Series X, anyone else experiencing this weird audio bug in which the crows are mixed in much louder than everything else and they are cawing constantly? Like, I am not exaggerating, literally every 2 seconds the fucking crows scream, non-stop! And sometimes, it doesn’t even make any sense. For example, you’re in an underground bunker or some shit and you still hear them like they were right over your head! It never ends. Completely broken audio and from the videos I’ve seen, the originals don’t seem to have these issues. I hope they fix this. Until then, I had to get a refund, because it’s simply impossible to enjoy the game like this. Was disappointed too, because I was really stoked to finally get to play this (never had a chance before), only for me to get fucked without wining and dining in the end.
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