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A review of Stalker CS(rant)

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  00:03:35  26 February 2014
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Genocider
Caretaker of the infamous Pseudo duck
(Resident)

 

 
On forum: 03/20/2010
 

Message edited by:
Genocider
02/26/2014 1:11:00
Messages: 629
A detailed response by someone who has overly analyzed all three games

-Post written response note: I apologize for the lengthy response, I've put quite a bit of thought into this franchise and what makes it good/enjoyable, so most of this I had already thought about and ended up writing about here.


---QUOTATION---
A review of Stalker CS(rant)

So I decided to give Clear Sky one more go ...so here goes

The Negatives

The Zone

---END QUOTATION---



That sounds like a personal preference. While Stalker was originally supposed to be modeled off the book Roadside picnic and the movie based off the same book, it ended up being something different. While I read the book and watched the movie, I have to say I am very VERY glad the game wasn't like them. I enjoyed both however a game filled with nothing but anomalies with very few humans seems quite boring indeed. Simply because with all three games, I've played them all so much I have literally 90 percent if not all of the locations memorized of where anomalies are.

While the game could be populated and have a higher focus on mutants, it would not be the same way it is now. I would definitely be interested in a game where anomalies do more then just damage the player and literally can bend space and time in such a way that the player could get a serious mindfuck...

...But that's not what we got. And I actually am alright with that. The human enemies are fun to fight, and to be honest the ai is quite good and was praised extensively when the game first came out (All three, though CS received more criticism then the others due to the smart terrain issues with mutants which I'll cover later).


---QUOTATION---

That Smart Terrainn

---END QUOTATION---



I liked the idea of smart terrains as well. However (And someone please correct me if I'm wrong) I believe SoC used smart terrains as well. The biggest impact and difference between SoC and CS in terms of smart terrains in regards to the game is as you said, the effect they have on mutants. It makes mutants less so the hunters and more-so the hunted, outside a few scripted sequences that occur in the Cordon and Red Forest, as well as the swamps if you count those poor little lone boars . Mutants really didn't pay much attention to you until you got within a certain distance of them, making them largely non threatening.

The way Stalkers take cover, go prone, blind fire, it's all very awesome when in firefights and if anything I wish they were done in more areas and done more effectively (Not blind firing over a small boat that you can clearly be seen over, IE the area in the swamps leading to the pump station).

The random bits of debris do sometimes remind me of paintball arenas, however they're done well in most areas however a few spots do stand out in Garbage. For the most part though, it's not too bad. I do think the environments in SoC looked better though however it really isn't an issue from me, I sort of justify it by seeing it as the factions creating positions for their members that are secure, using whatever materials they had available. It makes the whole random laundry machine on top of a hill make much more sense considering it probably came from one of the random hills full of garbage.

Either way I think you missed a very important issue and mistook that issue for smart terrains. The thing I think detracts more from the game would be squads. Simply because you never really see lone stalkers from any factions around, save for a few very specific quest related characters. In SoC you'd have random faction members walking around possibly into groups of upcoming enemies, which really made you want to help them or simply watch and let things unfold. Either way it created a "Many vs the few", a situation where the odds are stacked against you and those who don't exactly hate you... It also leads to you seeing random bad guys all alone, or random stalkers... It was more dynamic and led to a great number of encounters and situations you just won't get in CS or CoP.

The Squads do add things to the game that SoC just didn't really have. Like squads of well equipped and armed faction members (Think Duty or Freedom) going up others similar to them. It really aids the whole faction WAR aspect of the game, with small groups of men working together to defeat their enemy. They're two different styles, I personally prefer SoC's from a singleplayer survival horror immersion stand point. However the squad system in CS allows for better combat against humans in my opinion, and also lets modders do some amazing things as far as faction wars are concerned (I'm well aware of the myriad of faction war mods for SoC, however those mostly are composed of changes to alife allowing stalkers to go wherever they want regardless of story progression or map limitations, not coordinated faction attacks or things like that). I'll cover faction wars more specifically later down below though.
  21:11:45  25 February 2014
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optical_illusion
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 02/09/2013
 

Message edited by:
optical_illusion
02/26/2014 5:45:35
Messages: 176
The Cordon Military Loudspeaker and bandit HQ music

A positive compared to ShoC's...i understand some russian and while ShoC's was alright too (while it was on Russian) when translated into English it sounds a little lame lots of humor lost in translation.

Bandit HQ music is great..nuff said

Bandits

Bandits finally have a storyline, can whistle like pro thieves and share some witty quotes with you. Unlike ShoC where bandits did not have a story to them, were basically retarded disposable muscle and literally insane. All they could do is fire at you on sight or if you were neutral said Hey!. Now bandits actually try to rob stalkers(as hinted and planned originally), go as far as setting up concentration camps and finally(presumably?) fight stalkers for artifacts or other goodies. Explained at least. Was making bandits netural a ham-fisted way? Sure but it worked

The guides and a random plus about combat

The guides are an amazing system to save some of the time the player wastes running around...whats up with the stupid blindfold stuff though?

Another random plus is that in CS NPC's use cover, can jump out the said cover and go prone. So thats a huge plus. Also having attachments like silencers and scopes on weapons(in ShoC most weapons were the same bland stuff with the exception of a few scopes on the aks/lr300's) adds some dept.

NPC's being able to use ''upgraded'' weapons with that little green arrow is cool too, less generic.

AIl NPC's could do in Shoc was backpeddle and fire their automatic weapons.


Overall its still STALKER (which means its playable..to a certain extent).. the game feels so "rushed'' tho its so obvious
  21:02:44  25 February 2014
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optical_illusion
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 02/09/2013
 

Message edited by:
optical_illusion
02/25/2014 21:04:52
Messages: 176
Artifacts
They are similiar to anomalies. All have no weight difference or size... There are no ''negative artifacts''. A rock which just emits colorful lights might not be worth much to the player, but it still should be still worth a lot for the outside world. Similiarily, an artifact that does nothing but saps your stamina is pretty useless to you, but scientists would still love to get their hands on it. At least the damage artifacts are removed so that's still a little better.

Now with the positives

Artifact hunting
After playing SoC and its boring artifact hunting(It can't even be called hunting. You literally just walk and pick the glowing rocks visible from 100 meters away. And there are tons of them. TONS. Everywhere. It's kind of okay in Cordon, gets worse in Garbage - especially the garbage piles themselves - and absolutely out of control in Agroprom. There's like thirty artifacts in Agroprom area, not counting the underground.)

But Clear Sky? Now that's a game where artifact hunting is a challenge.Artifact hunting is MUCH better now - they are RARE and require EFFORT to get. As such, the merchants also pay prices for them in accordance with the difficulty of acquisition.

As many things is CS the detector is both a good and bad idea
It's bad idea because you don't really need to LOOK for artifacts at all because CS uses anomaly fields instead of single anomalies here and there like SoC does. So when you see an anomaly field you can be 90% sure there is an artifact inside.

Stashes
Still the same like in SoC but I thought it was a cool idea to add how some NPC's knew some stash locations unlike ShoC where you had to either slaughter NPC's for stash info or search already dead corpses. The loot in the stashes wasn't really well programmed tho it seems.
  20:58:37  25 February 2014
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optical_illusion
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 02/09/2013
 

Message edited by:
optical_illusion
02/25/2014 20:59:05
Messages: 176
The Weapons and combat
95% of enemies wield automatic weapons...even worse than in ShoC....AI doesnt ever use rocket launchers, barely uses sniper rifles or shotguns and handguns. At least in ShoC AI had a little more variety. Zombies only wield automatics with the exception of pump shotgun ones which are very rare. Lame.

Atmosphere
Its not even close. X18 alone has more atmosphere then all of CS put together. And it's just one of the three labs, which serve to break up the pacing, to keep it from being utterly and completely repetitive. Less emphasis on exploration than ShoC aswell and there is less vegetation or fauna compared to SoC...the ground is bare...wouldnt there be grass growing almost everythere.

Faction Wars
Gimicky and resulted in the maps being hugely overpopulated with firefights breaking out every ten seconds, and hence the atmosphere of isolation was off (and wasn't replaced by any sense of achievement since any victories were ephemeral). Constant respawns of human enemies or allies were not a bug(like in SoC) but a feature now. I thought the zone had 100-300 people operating but no ...huge departure from SoC's "loneliness" vibe. I dont mind isolation coupled with the occasional firefights but I had gunfights every 2-3 minutes(depending on what faction I chose).


Anomalies
Feels like in SoC Anomalies as they are now a wasted potential. First of all, they're simply points on a map. Second of all, they all work by damaging creatures in one way or another. Both of these combined mean boring and uninteresting.
CS follows the same suite but at least they it nicely with the psychic anomaly, but it was still pure damage. Is it really so hard to come up with interesting anomalies? There is rain in STALKER, so how about a place where it never rains. Or always rains. Or an area where it's always dark, or never dark. And so on and so on.
  20:53:03  25 February 2014
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optical_illusion
Senior Resident
 

 
On forum: 02/09/2013
 

Message edited by:
optical_illusion
02/25/2014 21:13:25
Messages: 176
A review of Stalker CS(rant)

So I decided to give Clear Sky one more go ...so here goes

The Negatives

The Zone
One of my biggest original complaints about SoC was that there are way too many people in it. Despite supposedly being in a super dangerous cordoned-off-by-the-military-shot-on-sight no-man's land filled with unknown and mutants you spend significant majority of the game shooting and being shot at by other human beings. CS follows the same story, lets recap.

-shoot 70+renegades in the swamps
-Eradicate 20+military in Cordon(bandits are hostile in Cordon and a Stalker quest prompts you to kill them)
-Bandits take your cash in garbage to piss you off more and almost make you hostile to the point
-Destroy 30+Mercs in DV
-More Bandit Shenanegans
-Finally mutants to kill in the underground, oh wait there are more hostile bandits in the underground than mutants
-Yantar-more humanoid enemies
-Red Forest-yes mutants, jk there are more renegades than mutants on the map
Army Warehouses-15+military
-Limansk and on-hordes of monolith

And so on, through almost the entire the game, You can't open a Tourist's Delight without murdering a dozen people. I thought STALKER's main theme of the game is the unknown, alien, hostlie Zone. So on one hand you have all these new and fascinating but also scary and/or dangerous things like mutants and anomalies, and at the other - you're constantly bombarded with humans, who reduce it all to the level of any average run & gun FPS

That Smart Terrainn
I understand they wanted the player to have dynamic firefights where NPC's use cover and all but who thought it was a good idea to have a perfectly good map and sprinkle tons of blocks, garbage, ammo crates for them in the middle of nowhere to take cover behind? Ok fine, rocks and tree stumps are understandable but stove appliances in the middle of the forest? Who brought them there..what for? And as soon as you ask these questions to yourself the immersion into the zone is gone instead of a zoneish desolate feel. Then mutants ignoring you because of smart terrain. Brilliant.
 
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