Fresh details for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

The highly acclaimed FPS/RPG game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is getting its first follow-up this year in late August, and developers GSC Game World have now announced the key features of their new radioactive adventure. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky will take place one year before the original game, at the time when a huge anomalous eruption completely changed what has been known as “the Zone”. This time you play the role of Scar, a stalker who finds himself right in the middle of a war between fractions of other stalkers, and you’ll have to decide who to side with in this war for power and valuable artifacts.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R is famous for its spectacular graphics, especially the lighting- and weather effects. Clear Sky is no exception, and if you’re lucky enough to play with a DirectX 10-supported graphics card, you’re in for some sweet eye candy. Clear Sky is also said to have improved a lot regarding animations and behavior of NPC’s. And although there are certain events that will be set in stone to push the story towards the original game, the artificial intelligence now lets your friends and foes make completely situation-based decisions, thus making the outcome from battles between stalker fractions undetermined.

Here’s a list with all the major changes for the expansion:

  • Unique mix of action-laden first-person shooter and complex role-playing game
  • Gigantic scope: many new levels are available, plus some completely overhauled levels from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and many side quests with motivating rewards
  • Realistic simulation of the extensive S.T.A.L.K.E.R. world: enemy factions fight each other, mutants hunt of their own accord.
  • Intermediate movie-quality cut scenes complement the thrilling back-story leading up to the events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl
  • Numerous new in game features, such as fast travel, or extensive modification and repairing armor and weapons
  • Greatly improved artificial intelligence
  • Complete DirectX 10 support for state-of- the-art graphic effects (God rays, soft particles, SSAO, dynamic volumetric smoke, dynamically wetting surface (rain effect) etc.)
  • Dynamic transitions between day and night with realistic weather effects
  • Detailed graphics, including an all-new animation engine
  • Hugely expanded multiplayer part with many varied game modes and up to 32 players online or over LAN.

The original S.T.A.L.K.E.R came as a disappointment to some. Areas weren’t as free-roaming as you’d thought, the scarcity of operational vehicles was frustrating and the lack of customization and character development put the needle in our balloon of expectations. It just had this aura of “released-too-early” around it, which is ironic considering it was starting to be referred to as another Duke Nukem Forever.

Personally, I liked S.T.A.L.K.E.R a lot, and if this expansion can improve the graphics, A.I., story and make an attempt to repair those previously mentioned imperfections, I believe we have a very exiting gaming experience ahead of us.

[See also: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky gallery]