SoC - "STALKERSOUP" Mod Review - Rereviewed!
- Welcome back, stalkers, it's time to eat the mighty soup once more...
- I decided to play through and review STALKERSOUP all over again, because the first review wasn't very thorough and because SOUP has received some nice updates. Let's see if SOUP has learned its lessons.
- STALKERSOUP is a mega-mod offering hellish amounts of new content (new weapons, areas, NPC-s, etc) released all the way back in 2007. Back then, it was known as Narodnaya Solyanka. Slowly but steadily, the mod moved from one group to another, getting changes from every modder. In 2011, the mod was taken over by TecnoBacon, renamed it into STALKERSOUP and evolved into a huge expansion to "Shadow Of Chernobyl". To some, the mod is known as "the most difficult mod for SoC" and to some as the "clusterfuck mod". There are few to think that this is a great mod, but say what you want - this is without a doubt one of the most popular and one of the biggest mods for STALKER offering a wide variety of new content.
- About 6 months ago, I reviewed it and gave it a rating 5.3 out of 10 saying "bugs and overdosed content ruined it". Over the last months, the mod has been updated quite a lot and I believe that it is the right time to review it once more.
- Before the "database" update released this November, (database version is an optimized and complete version of the mod with English voices and optimized textures) the installation and the patching was truly horrible. Now the installation is really simple - backup the .db files, copy the mod .db files to SoC directory and play. People using the previous versions of SOUP should definitely update, by completely reinstalling SoC and installing the mod.
- If we speak about graphics, SOUP really surprised me. All textures were nice and crisp, bloom was just right, editable DoF through modders options and the skyboxes were amazing! Especially during blowouts! Smoke was also made black, which looked really great. One example was the downed chopper at Rostok. Sometimes however, the graphics reminded me of depressed LURK, which isn't a bad thing. There were even new great animations added to NPC-s, which looked great! I loved SOUP's graphics!
- The general gameplay in STALKERSOUP was really something unique. Original storyline was still there with a few modifications. Now there was much more action involved - enemy helicopter at the Agroprom military base shooting at you while grappling soldiers descend from the chopper, crashing helicopters in Pripyat, rare librarian lurking at the X10. There were even rare hell-hour blowouts added, where you had to fight waves of different mutants (it wasn't very good). I hated the annoying and completely unnecessary "dream" part that was right at the start of the game, where you had to navigate your way through a deadly cave filled with mutants and anomalies. That part didn't reward you in any way and didn't add to the story. There was however an option to skip the dream part, but using it crashed the game and corrupted your saves and it felt like the game laughed at you. Speaking of laughing, the voices of the mercenary soldiers had been replaced with German voices and for some reason, it was really hilarious, but distracting and illogical at the same time.
- Atmosphere ruining were also invisible teleport anomalies, (one was right at the entrance to X16 and whisked you away to the swamps) psi-cloud anomalies (idiotic blue clouds that could instantly kill you), horrible Russia-To-English script translation and annoying enemy NPC-s in general. To be exact on why NPC-s were much more annoying is that some soldiers wore invisible armor and camped in a corner. There were also ELECTRIFIED mutants. These mutants were for example chimeras and bloodsuckers. Electrified meant that they were surrounded by an electrical field, shooting them from a close-distance would shock you and even kill you an a first hit. They were also much more aggressive. It might've been an alright idea, but this time it was executed really poorly. When I'm already talking about annoying NPC-s, I should also point out here, in my opinion the second biggest flaw with this mod is the A.I. Very many have said that this is the most difficult mod for SoC and I think I found out why - the A.I reacts way too fast. Enemy soldiers can literally spot and kill you from a large distance in less than a second. You walk around a corner silently and bang - the enemy there reacted to you, turned around and killed you, all under a second. This A.I made tight areas like lab under the Red Forest and CNPP a real nightmare. There were even times when NPC-s who were yet to notice you, shoot you through a wall and kill you or when a group of bandits spawn, who has one unkillable NPC in that group just because that NPC has quests.
- On the positive side, the mod added many dynamic events that could happen. Maybe your PDA started malfunctioning and you have to bring it to a workshop at the bar or sometimes mutants could work for you, by taking down some enemies themselves. Gameplay in general was actually made really exciting, interesting and filled with action. I loved how ambient soundtracks from Call Of Pripyat were used and there was another really useful element borrowed from Call Of Pripyat. The atmosphere of underground areas had been made much more creepier. Trust me, X18 is now tons creepier. You have to try it out yourself to understand. After you load your game you have to "Press any key to start the game". It's a tiny element, but hugely useful if fetching snacks or taking a quick break.
- The main thing that the mod heavily relied on after all was definitely the content and oh boy, there was lots of that. Next to the main storyline was added many sidequests that were all actiony and exciting, but all the objectives of the quests tended to be "go there, get the box with supplies, wow, that man with the supplies was actually a bad guy, kill him, kill his buddies, fight yourself back and get rewarded". The rewards were either really overpowered or really disappointing, but with this mod, what can you really call overpowered? There were very many new areas also added from all of the STALKER games plus cut areas from older STALKER versions. They all looked great and were stable, the only problem was that there lacked activity and NPC-s. There were anomalies, but that's pretty much it and only a few sidequests took you to the new areas.
- The biggest fault with the new areas was the way you got to the new areas and unless you cheated and used the teleporter tool from the menu, you had to have a transition to get to the area and the way to get the transitions was completely bananas. To get a transition you needed to pay someone a very large sum of money (for example 200,000 rubles), loot a high-profile body or complete a ridiculously difficult mission. That is in my opinion one of the worst flaws with this mod.
- That major flaw aside, the new content was really great. Many weapons were new and never before used in other mods. All the content was pretty serious and realistic, but there were many exceptions. A middle finger to flip people off and make them your enemies or a gravity gun. I was confused and skeptic at first, but once I got myself a gravity gun, then I was extremely surprised. It worked just like in Half-Life 2!
- New artifacts were also added along with the new transmutation way of making powerful artifacts. Great for artifact hunters. New items were mainly medical and edible ones. I loved the bioradar, which detects every organism (including mutants) around you and all the expensive detectors. New anomalies were also sadly added, adding more ways to get creatively killed. Many new NPC-s were also added, like librarian mutants from Metro 2033, grandmother zombies and skeletons. Almost all of them were too powerful, but there were great NPC-s as well, like the creepy izlomes. In short, the new content was spot on!
- On the technical side, I was positively surprised. Compared to the previous STALKERSOUP versions, this database version had quicker loadtimes and it was much more stable! Sadly, compared to other popular STALKER mods, STALKERSOUP is still unstable, buggy and has slower loadtimes. The mod suffers from broken loot system, broken enemy spawns and even broken A.I as mentioned before. In vanilla, there was a really tiny possibility to stealth, SOUP completely erased stealth and NPC-s were always aware of you. However there were times where enemies would never notice you and just stood still.
- In conclusion, I can say that STALKERSOUP really evolved into something really great and playable from what it once used to be, but compared to mods other than SOUP, it's not that great. STALKERSOUP still offers you an interesting and exciting gameplay and tons of new content and the mod will definitely give you a wow-effect, but it fades away after a number of crashes and bugs. You can see that this mod has been worked on really hard, maybe that's why it isn't that great.
- 6.8 / 10 - A huge overdosed mod, that is yet to be polished and cleaned...
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