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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. story, gameplay, characters and more

Story
It is now for the second time that the black Chernobyl erupted to open a Zone - a new horror of ill mankind. It was at that moment that hundreds of people turned into wordless toys of invisible forces, insane toys with erased personalities. And there were futile attempts of the army to cope with the new plague of the planet, at least to prevent its development and spread, while groups of scientists and the military disappeared in ever-bigger Zone. Only rare people, resistant to influence and control of invisible forces, dared to set off for the Zone to procure evidence of weird and uncanny changes around Chernobyl atomic facility. Only a handful returned, bringing strange objects and stories of deadly traps and eerie animal mutants. They got known as stalkers, those who leave for the changing world of the Zone to explore it and find artefacts, those who cross the immense Zone covered with ulcers of black lakes, scorched earth, poisonous fogs, deadly anomalous zones, populated by sapient animal mutants. The army cordoned off all the entrances to the Zone and let in only small clusters of scientists, but stalkers kept infiltrating the Zone and brought artefacts to subsequently sell them to pay-willers.

Twenty years later one of the stalking newbies, makes his first steps into the Zone. He is to learn much of the Zone and what lies in its hub. Many stalkers and scientists came to a conclusion that there is Something to control the Zone spread, something to manage a huge army of zombies, transformed animals, uncanny creatures and god knows what other beings in the Zone epicentre, straight in the centre of destroyed Chernobyl atomic plant. That substance takes army units under control, turns neighbouring civilians into zombies and forces large numbers of squads to attack army posts.

Gameplay
Player travels through the huge world of the Zone, compiled of 20 levels, averagely sized 1x1 km. All the levels are joined into one global map player moves over. Thus, he may choose any route to his liking and will not be limited in passing from one level to another. The plot of the game is non-linear and has two absolutely different endings. A player may freely explore the Zone, while performing scenario-imposed tasks now and then. Apart from scenario, the game implies a strong economic component, based on player earning money by selling Zone artefacts and creatures to purchase gimmicks, weapons and protective suits, which allows him to enter previously inaccessible areas.

Zone:
The Zone world is made of derelict factories, cities, quarries, various constructions, semi-destroyed underground passageways, tunnels, railroads, bogs, woods and even a graveyard with a crematory. The Zone territory is covered with black marsh ulcers, scorched earth, poisonous fogs, deadly anomalous zones, sometimes visible, but more frequently detected with special scanners only. This world is banked with industrial trash, machinery, inhabited by a variety of creatures stalkers have to fight with.

Anomalous zones:
Anomalous zones pose great danger to stalkers. Getting into an anomalous zone nearly always results in instant death. There is only one way to oppose such zones - to avoid them. A problem here is to detect an anomalous zone, for the majority of them are invisible and can be detected with special devices or by inconspicuous indications.

Gnat bold patch:
Gravity field with differently directed acceleration.
Tears entrapped living creature apart.
Visual indicators:
- Dents in the ground
- Bent metallic objects
- A stone thrown inside a gnat bold patch changes flight trajectory

Fog:
Unprepossessing bluish fog corrodes skin, hair, eyes, leaving a scorched corpse. Getting into fog without protective suit or oxygen mask leads to death.

Rusty hair:
All the metal grates and rods acquire rusty hair through the time. When touching it, the body starts to smoke and blacken.

Burning fuzz:
Flying fuzz, which leaves heavy, burns when touching the body. There are copious amounts of this fuzz in lowlands, holes and pits. Rises into the air in windy weather.

Meat-mincer:
A trap which gradually stocks a charge, discharges on a living being and on a special device - discharger. It is absolutely harmless when uncharged.


Characters:
The Zone isn't empty and apart from anomalous zones, there is a variety of creatures inhabiting it.

The Zone population roams and fights, groups of animals change their pastures, clans migrate, stalkers ransack the Zone in search of artefacts, scientists explore the Zone by setting out expeditions.

Stalkers
Unaffected by invisible forces, the courageous people who dared to enter the Zone got known as stalkers. They set off for the changeable world of the Zone to explore it and procure artefacts. Stalkers constantly circulate around the Zone in search of artefacts. There are three groups of stalkers to constantly conflict with each other. These are stalker scientists, stalker bandits and military stalkers. .

Stalkers enter the Zone armed and equipped, they are ready to what may face them in the Zone.

The entry to the city is forbidden for stalkers - the city is in quarantine. Barrages and army units are placed around the city, all the passageways are regularly patrolled. Mutants to come out of the Zone now and then fall on the military. A solid defence has been set up, because it was several times that mutants broke through the barriers and attacked the city or roamed adjacent forests assailing civilians.

But despite this, stalkers keep going into the Zone, they find ways to infiltrate through army patrols and guards, fight mutants and avoid anomalous zones.

Traders
Stalkers who returned from the Zone sell found artefacts to an old stalker - a trader in secret dugout deep in forest, who has many ties with the outer world. There exists a variety of artefact customers - scientists, military, powerful corporations representatives. Customers order the old stalker to procure certain artefacts, and he commissions the search to stalkers in return. Also, it is possible to buy weapons from a trader (for protection from bandits, military and mutants) and an array of equipment (to survive in anomalous Zone areas).

Rats
After the catastrophe many animals died and left the Zone, many, but not the rats. They bred in great numbers to become the top numerous Zone animals. Rats are found in groups, and rarely individually.

Apart from usual rats you may find rat wolves, who are bigger and more aggressive. Rat wolves devour their kin in famine.

Rats feel dangerous areas and carefully avoid them, squeaking to warn the rest of rats. Rats are very witty creatures and try circling their victims around. A victim, surrounded from all sides stands no chance to survive.

Movement:
Rats move by jumping onto and going through any accessible passageways, holes, cracks and windows. Rats try to stay in ill-lit areas and avoid anomalous zones.
Enemy search:
Rats have poor sight and therefore tend to sniff and listen more. A group follows the general mass of rats. If a prey got lost, rats disperse around the presumed area of prey hideout.
Escaping from under fire:
Rats avoid fire. They run to where fire is initiated from.
Assault:
They jump on victim, so that it gets covered with masses of rats. Rat wolves aim to jump on victim's back.
Battlefield fleeing:
If a group of rats got defeated and failed to cover a victim within 30 seconds, it disperses, then gathers into several large squads to attack again. If there is 20% of rat group remaining, rats flee the battlefield, scattering in different directions through any passageways and cracks.
Hiding:
Rats try to stay in shadowy areas.
Enemy outflanking:
A group splits into several large squads, which attack from different sides.
Tricks:
Rats fall down from holes in ceiling and jump through windows.
Weak spot:
Rats are good to burn.

Where rat encounters are possible:
In basements, cesspools, building debris.

Game examples:
Holes in the floor open a view on darkness-sunken ground of the lower level rats are rushing through. If a stalker jumps down or falls down into a hole, an immense mass of rats attacks from every side and gnaws stalker to death.

Walls have cracks where some glistening is seen. If you come closer, dozens of rats will jump out on stalker's face. That glistening is eyes of rats.

Stalker runs away from rats and rat wolves shooting down large species and zombies on the way. His face and arms are bleeding of numerous bites and cuts. Stalker reaches water tower and with his last ounce of strength climbs up the stairs, while rats are sweeping past. In a while, sounds of skirmish, shouts and explosions are heard - the rats reached an army post.

Before the very drain hatch the stalker is again attacked by rats, so all he is left to do is to jump into the drain, rats falling suit. A throw of Molotov cocktail finally settles the rat problem.

Posted: 12:08:50 Thursday, 11 April 2002

Discuss this story at forum.

Additional information:
GSC World Publishing and Deep Silver announce planned release date for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky
Posted: Thursday, 27 March 2008
GSC Game World will present new titles in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. line-up at E3 2007
Posted: Wednesday, 16 May 2007
New information on S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost, including insights into game locale, anomalous zones, artifacts, enemies and more
Posted: Tuesday, 4 June 2002
Stalker's notes
Posted: Friday, 5 April 2002
GSC Game World announces its new development - a 3D action, based on X-Ray engine
Posted: Tuesday, 13 November 2001

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