kode's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (PC) review

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Call of Pripyat

I was pretty late to the whole S.T.A.L.K.E.R party, only buying Shadow of Chernobyl when it was going cheap on Steam. Little did I know this would start a crazy love for having shoot-outs with angry Russians and jumping head first into dangerous anomaly fields.
Overall the game is a massive improvement over the last two, straight out of the box the game is playable and none of the horrible nightmare tales I've heard of bugs and glitches can really be found here. The very popluar Oblivion Lost mod for SoC has also been fully incorporated, with gun and armor customization, sleeping and the odd emission. The gun and armor mods have been turned way up, you can do all the normal things like attach scopes and under-barrel grenade launcher plus alot more, by visiting a technician you can upgrade the components inside the items giving a gun less recoil for example. None of this is free though, by selling looted equipment or completeing mission you can get enough money to upgrade your gear. The amount of money you get is very nicely balanced, I never felt I had too much at any one time, just enough to mod a few guns, buy supplies then head back out into the Zone.  Call of Pripyat also boasts great bullet ballistics, nothing like watching a firefight in the dark as the bullets richochet off the rocks, walls and floor.
Graphically the game is beginning to look a little dated in places, but still the XRay engine has its moments, during a lightening storm shows the game in its best. Don't let this put you off however, the game still packs an awesome atmospheric punch with the sound helping greatly, the groans and moans from the monsters and the Zone return pushing you on the edge of your seat. The voice acting on the other hand falls a little flat, with the majority of the English dialogue sounding stupid.
The area I was the most disappointed with was the main story, for most of the game it is slow paced with little going on and by the time it picks up the game finishes, quite abruptly too in my opinion. To compensate the side-missions are much, much more story driven than previous games, with thieir own little twists and choices where the consequences are shown in a Fallout 3 slideshow style at the end of the game.
If you enjoyed the previous S.T.A.L.K.E.Rs then getting this is almost a no-brainer, offering the sort of gameplay that made the first two so enjoyable but in a much more stable package, and although this game might not have the polish of AAA titles I still have not found another game with this level of atmosphere and immersion!

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