STALKER: Clear Sky

“There’s more diverse behaviour with STALKERs in the game,” explained Bolshakov. “We’re expanding the concept of searching for artifacts and anomalies, just to name a few things.” Whereas in the original game the artifacts were little more than a saleable power-up system, they’re going to be providing motivation for your actions in Clear Sky. The concept of the Zone as an alien, anomalous place is coming to the forefront. As a result your interest in the artifacts, and the areas of weirdness that generate them, will be hugely increased.

The interest of other Zone parties in the artifacts will be increased too: they will be after the artifacts and will fight to keep them. In Clear Sky you’ll be facing a world with far more going on than ever before. With each of the seven factions vying for power you’ll find yourself caught up in the opposing missions of faction STALKERs, and helping to manipulate a game world which will never be the same from one moment to the next, from one gamer’s session to another. This could be a major step on the road towards an ideal of open-ended game world.

Of all the reasons to be excited about Clear Sky, one of the most significant is that, to a great extent, GSC are going it alone. While they have signed up Koch to publish the game upon its planned release this spring, and it’ll be sold via Steam online, it’s a far cry from THQ’s integral involvement in the original game’s completion. With this bold move, GSC could rapidly become one of the most important PC-focused studios in the world.

Whether these shiny, new gameplay elements make it into a STALKER sequel or not is hardly relevant. What matters is that an independent developer based in the former Soviet Union, with an office in a converted munitions factory and with a team whose childhoods were overshadowed by nuclear disaster, is one of the most imaginative and creatively ambitious video game developers in the world today. If GSC accomplish half of what they have dreamed, then their work will become legendary.

Feb 12, 2008