CS - Game review with Starter Pack
- Another review from me - REVIEWER. This time, I was recommended to review a base game with the added Starter Pack. I was asked to review STALKER: Clear Sky. The game that has been told to be the worst of the STALKER series with its bugs, instability and unplayability. I was playing the game PATCHED to 1.5.10 and as always, I was playing on Master difficulty with no crosshair. Lets see if this bad popularity about the game is true.
- In the game, you play as mercenary Scar who survived a strong emission outside. After regaining consciousness, he finds himself in the base of Clear Sky with the commander ordering him to stop Strelok getting into the center of the Zone or else he will die (die because of strong emissions Strelok is supposedly causing). The area you spawn in, is unique to Clear Sky. It is called simply swamps. There are 3 other unique areas to Clear Sky - Limansk, different Red Forest and Deserted Hospital, but I will speak about those areas later on. Another unique element in Clear Sky are the Faction Wars. You can join a faction, complete missions given from the faction you joined, but you will also get a lot more enemies, which make the gameplay more uncomfortable, so it isn't recommended to join a faction. In Clear Sky, you also have the option to give upgrades to your weapons and armor, by visiting a faction upgrader. If you have a favorite weapon and armor, be sure to upgrade them! The upgrading option is similar to the one in Call Of Pripyat. After leaving to Cordon and been through the swamps in Clear Sky, you are on your own.
- Gameplay is very easy when you start the game and roam around in the swamps, but the easiness can change very suddenly. The whole game consists of very easy and very difficult parts. There were many uncomfortable parts in the game. One of them was a bandit trap, where you lose all your money and won't get it back. It's a bit drastic, isn't it? Professional artifact hunters start hunting for artifacts early in the game and if they find out that all the effort was useless, then it's already an easy ragequit. The devs could've added a possibility to get the money back from the bandit base, perhaps? I will warn you, that this trap is pretty early in the game. Artifact hunting was fun with this game. I had never really hunted for artifacts until Clear Sky. It really was great to go on artifact-trips with this game.
- Atmospherically, the game was lacking something. The game seemed dull and empty - eventless, if you can say. It couldn't be compared to SoC or CoP.
- Graphics were great, skies were beautiful, especially on starry nights. Blowouts, however, were ugly. They were too shaky, wobbly and grainy. Gun textures looked decent and so did the nature textures. Nothing to complain with graphics. Let's talk about audio now. The main part of the great atmosphere in STALKER is also the soundtrack and oh my. Clear Sky has in my humble opinion, the most powerful soundtrack. Just listen to Radwinds: pt.1, 2. Other sounds were great as well. Faraway gunshots were heard nicely and other minor sounds played nicely. I wasn't as pleased with the voice acting, though. Sure STALKER doesn't shine with voice acting, but the voice acting in CS was horrible! The most horrible from the STALKER series. It sounded like there were only two voice actors in the entire game. There were also important NPC-s who had some part of dialogue voice-acted and some parts not. NPC-s talked with an accent like they were from Scotland and during fierce battles, you could hear NPC-s yell puns and funny taunts. Talk about being a serious stalker in this game... Speaking of NPCs, I'll talk a bit about the AI. In a few words, the AI was horrible. Zombies who are supposed to tumble and slowly walk, crouched like professional soldiers and sometimes they even sprinted. Enemies threw grenades all the time. Literally ALL THE TIME. The main strategy of bandits, military, renegades and the monolith was this. Throw. More. Grenades. They also somehow could magically throw them into tiny holes of shelters where you are hiding. It's like I am playing some sort of multiplayer game, where everyone but me uses hacks. Really annoying. The AI was also stupidly aimed at you. For instance, bandits started to raid the stalker base in Agroprom. I was excited since I thought this was going to be awesome. I waited a bit to see how the NPC-s would fight. Instead, I saw stalkers casually walking while getting shot in the back. After a while of shooting and studying this stupidity, I heard no gunshots. I thought this was all over, but no. As I walked into the main building with stalkers, I saw a bandit being there casually and once the bandit saw me, he shot and killed me and then others decided to kill the bandits in the building. Are you supposed to supervise the enemies all the time? Mutant AI was also highly unintelligent. You could take a walk with boars and they somehow don't see you. You could even shoot them and they still wouldn't react at you. Pseudogiant was in CS stronger than the pseudogiant in Misery and we all know how much of a bulletsponge the pseudogiant was in Misery.
- Every game has its dark side, too. The dark side of every game is the badly programmed technical side a.k.a bugs and glitches and to be honest, the technical side in Clear Sky was awful. In certain parts of the game, you would really say to yourself: "Were the developers really that lazy?". For example, lets take blowouts. Huge emissions that fries the brains of every humanoid left without shelter. People behind Clear Sky were so lazy, that instead of making the human NPC-s RUN to the nearest shelter during an emission, they just disappear into the wind! They don't even get teleported into the nearest shelter, just a *poof* and the NPC-s on that map are gone and after the emission they magically reappear. That happened with me in the Dark Valley and in the Garbage. There was another bug with the emission, it is logical that a shelter to protect against a blowout should have walls over the head, next to you on both sides, at the back and in the front. For the game, a good shelter was also in the loner place flea market in Garbage and not even in the underground spot, but on the second floor. For those who don't know, that place doesn't have any proper walls nor a roof. You are completely exposed to the emission. I don't know, maybe Scar was a tough guy. He already survived the first strong emission, maybe it was intentional. There was also a bug that happened every time you entered the Dark Valley. At least it happened to me. Every time I left Dark Valley and reentered it, an emission occurs. Why does it happen? Does Dark Valley feel the power of Scar? There was an emission 10 minutes ago in Garbage. I just don't know. Another annoying thing were invisible walls that mark the job of a lazy map maker. The invisible walls were only experienced in the areas unique to Clear Sky, but the developers knew that the player could get to them, so to sort of stop the player from going to the invisible wall areas, they put extreme radiation and anomalies to these areas, but with an upgraded SEVA suit, artifacts and anti-rads, I could still experience invisible walls! And no, I wasn't cheating myself into the invisible walls, there was one right in Limansk and I sort of thought that it was the right way to advance and I thought you had to jump through the anomalies. There was also a glitch with the green cases to get supplies from in every checkpoint where allies are. If you emptied the case, saved and loaded the saved save, the case would be refilled. Lazy work. During the game, I also encountered numerous floating objects and floating bushes and trees. Some of the stashes were also bugged into the ground. Not under or onto the ground, but IN. Simple cutscenes of the camera showing some NPC-s were also somehow screwed up. During a cutscene in Limansk, the Clear Sky NPC-s were just stacked into one pile, with stalkers shaking and dancing inside the pile. Allies in general were weak and useless. When an ally says "Cover us!" on the radio, then it means "Go and kill every enemy up there, so we could walk a few meters and then a new horde of enemies spawn that you need to kill!". Spawns were ALSO screwed up. In Yantar, you could easily see the natural event of zombies appearing from the air, a.k.a - spawning. You could see NPC-s spawning everywhere in the game. SPOILER ALERT PEOPLE!!! It has spoilers from the ending! Now that I have warned you, I have to tell you that the Limansk battle with the Monolith and the Military was a huge pain in the bottom. After the bridge shootout in the Red Forest, you are given a reward of 50k rublas and you can only receive the award from the Clear Sky base all the way back in swamps. Why?! You won't return there since Clear Sky is waiting for you to go to Limansk. You also get a weapon as a reward, but you receive it in the CNPP area? How do you get it there? Some sort of magic man throws it at you? That construction area in Limansk where you have to go and kill 20 NPC-s by yourself? Why? Even for a person who has defeated Misery on Master, the construction site was still really difficult. The hospital scene was just stupid, it was unnecessary. The entire area looked the same, machine gunners there killed you instantly and they were anally accurate and after all the bullshit with the Monolith. You have to destroy a helicopter. What kind of helicopter goes down with 2-3 magazines from a SIG? Maybe instead of shooting the chopper, a special rocket launcher is given to you by the Clear Sky? Again, another laziness. Don't get me started on the CNPP area, too. It was bugged down to oblivion. The main goal there is to tame Strelok with a gauss rifle, whilst the Monolith try to kill you and you have to jump through many teleport anomalies to get there. Often, there will be spawned 4 Monolith soldiers in front of you and behind you, leaving no place for you to defend yourself. At these times, you have to run as quickly as you can to a teleport anomaly. Luckily, I didn't have to see all of this horrible CNPP area, as Strelok who you are supposed to shoot, bugged and stands in one place. I easily and blatantly shot him for 2 minutes and CS was over. I was happy to finish CS, not because I was happy to play it, but happy that I don't have to play it anymore. The story in CS wasn't really gripping either. It was dull to be honest and the missions were boring, too. Not to mention all the crashes Clear Sky causes. Don't be surprised if the game crashes at Limansk, it is very common.
- One thing leaves me wondering though. The developers had high hopes with Clear Sky. They had so high hopes that they gifted Clear Sky with a huge Collectors Edition. Sure, the other two STALKER games had these editions, too, but not as glorious and great as the Clear Sky collectors edition. There were even 3 different version of the edition - Russian, English and Polish. There was even a Metal Box version of Clear Sky and a LIMITED collectors edition. Clear Sky also had the best soundtrack, but why Clear Sky? The buggiest game of the three? The worst of the three? It also leaves me wondering, what would've Clear Sky been if it didn't have the Zone Reclamation Project and it would be unpatched? Well, I'd have to see a nightmare to experience this, because I sure won't be playing that on my PC.
- I give STALKER: Clear Sky the rating of ?/10. You might ask what does the ? stand for in my rating. Well, to be honest, I love STALKER. STALKER has given me inspiration for numerous projects, including a trip to Ukraine and I can't give a STALKER game a horrible rating. If it would be a game other than STALKER, I would give it a rating, but for the love of STALKER, I won't. In conclusion, the game has boring gameplay with numerous atmosphere reducing and horrible bugs and glitches, crashes, lazy mistakes, lazy events, lazy concept and a story that doesn't really give you anything. You could call this game STALKER: SoC v.0.5. The only good things in this game were the Faction Wars, upgrading abilities, awesome collectors editions and multiplayer that is better than singleplayer. You can skip this game if you aren't a true stalker, but if you are, then be sure to buckle up, get bandages or bleeding artifacts and try not to get upset about the game, while it crashes you to the desktop.
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