STALKER: Clear Sky

After a gestation period that could only be rivaled by the collective efforts of 15 pregnant elephants, GSC Game World’s STALKER eventually became the most atmospheric and original shooter in recent years. A lovable rogue of a game with a fair few rough edges in presentation that belied some razor-sharp gunplay and genuinely unsettling wanders through the wilderness. And now, the Zone wants us back.

Clear Sky kicks off a year before Shadow of Chernobyl’s amnesiac lead character, one Strelok, began chasing his own tail through the wastes. Indeed, the game builds up to explaining where he comes from and why exactly it is that the many and various fates of the Exclusion Zone rest on his gruff Ukrainian shoulders. In fact, now, playing as a stalker mercenary of a rival faction, you’re out to kill him.

The theatrics of vanilla STALKER were actually the forgetful Strelok’s third visit to the CNPP at its hub, you see - the first of these visits unbalanced its fragile state and caused frequent blowouts to ravage the wastes. “Each of these blowouts scorches this new protagonist’s nerve system more,” explains project lead Anton Bolshakov. “There’s no way out - in order to survive you’ll have to find and stop Strelok.”

And so begins an unstoppable bullet-ridden journey that may well leave our former buddy lying brain-bumped in a soon-to-be-electrified death truck at Shadow of Chernobyl’s start.

Just because it’s a prequel, though, don’t expect everything to kick off all shiny and happy, with a moment where a seven-year-old child accidentally destroys a military starship. It turns out that Shadow of Chernobyl was a time of relative peace and normality in the Zone, and that one year earlier, Strelok’s first walking tours through Soviet nuclear history had everything royally screwed.

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