Saturday, February 11, 2012

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat Review: A Wasteland Paradise

Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat

Developer: GSC Game World

Genre: FPS, Open World, Survival

System: PC

Rated: M (Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence)

As you may know, I am a huge fan of Metro 2033. Some of you are probably tired of me constantly gushing about it over twitter. Anyway I recently decided to play the other video game series about a post-apocalyptic Russia ravaged with mutants and radiation, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Specifically for this review I have played the 2nd game, Call of Pripyat.

Gameplay: As mentioned above, Call of Pripyat ditches the hub-based world of Shadow of Chernobyl for a much more open-ended map divided into three different sectors. This vastly reduces the amount of time the player spends in loading different areas and makes the experience much more enjoyable. The map isn’t that hard to traverse, and it usually won’t take you long to get from one end of a sector to the other.

Gunplay is satisfying, and each weapon handles differently from the next without actually feeling underpowered or overpowered. Guns tend to empty fast, so you’ll have to scavenge what you can from the dead, and having several weapons that use different rounds is always a good idea.

Another new addition Call of Pripyat brings is the ability to customize and improve certain aspects of your weapons and armor at local gunsmiths. These upgrades can vary from increasing how a weapon handles to how accurate or how fast it is to how much your armor protects against bullets or environmental hazards. If you want some of the better upgrades though, you’re going to have to look for toolkits. The toolkits aren’t particularly marked on the map, so you may have to ask around to find them all.

A good way of making money is looking for artifacts in anomalies. Artifacts, besides being worth a lot of money, provide bonuses like giving health regeneration or increasing your maximum weight limit but are also radioactive, so you will most likely want to find a firefly or bubble or other anti-radiation artifacts before you equip any other type of artifact. The process for finding artifacts is, at first, a game of hot and cold, and the artifacts are usually right by deadly anomalies. Eventually you get better detectors which make finding artifacts a heck of a lot easier, particularly if you do a certain side quest that nets you a detector which shows the locations of anomalies as well as artifacts

Story: The story in Call of Pripyat follows Alexander Degtyarev as he goes undercover as a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in order to investigate why five helicopters the military sent into the zone crashed without warning. The main story-line in and of itself isn’t particularly interesting, and the conclusion near the end was woefully unsatisfying. I did find finishing each side quest to be incredibly more satisfying. Listening to the epilogue at the end telling you how your decisions affected the zone will both make you proud that you helped Beard and the Stalkers out in Zaton instead of helping Sultan and make you despise yourself for not killing off that hive of Bloodsuckers when you had the chance.

Final Thoughts: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat is a fun game. Its story isn’t going to win any prizes and the conclusion near the end really was a disappointment, but the side quests and gunplay are good enough to more than make up for it. Even if you aren’t the type of person that has to finish every single quest before moving on with the main storyline, I can guarantee you will have finished a good majority of them by the end of the game.

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