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

Just months after the glitz and glamor of its inaugural debut on Wired's annual Vaporware awards, the long-delayed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. cozied up on retail shelves next to other evidently non-vaporous games. Yes, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a real boy now and it's more than a little exciting to see that the ambitious title made the journey from idea to interactive game more or less intact. Sure, the years in limbo didn't do much to help the once impressive engine, but reviews praise the title's innovative aspects -- namely the open-ended, and S.C.A.R.Y., gameplay.

  • Yahoo! (90/100) offers a poop metaphor that actually makes us want to play the game ... albeit alone ... and with a fresh pair of drawers nearby: "given all its troubles we're fortunate to have a game at all, let alone one this good. Its setting is superb, its gameplay tense and convincing, and it boasts what are definitely the best fill-your-pants moments in a PC game for quite some time. It's hard to see how it could have turned out better."
  • GameSpot (85/100) loves the open-endedness, and gives us the mash-up genre descriptor we've been waiting for: "At its heart, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a first-person survival game that blends action with role-playing. This isn't a linear game, like Half-Life or Call of Duty, where you basically are restricted to a straight path and are taken for a tightly controlled and scripted ride. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s huge environments and open-ended gameplay make it more like a role-playing game, as you can go where you want and do what you want if you're willing to live with the consequences."
  • Eurogamer (80/100) offers easily the most compelling review, despite its lower score: "For some people the odd rough brokenness of Stalker will frustrate and annoy. It isn't finely polished, and it's not Hollywood; this is more like an antidote to the Americanised way of doing things. It's a warped behemoth from the Ukraine, and one of the scariest games on the PC."
Sold! We've been hungry for a first-person shooter that requires mandatory underwear changes as part of its design; System Shock 2 was so long ago, and Bioshock is delayed. We want this sort of experience.

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