S.T.A.L.K.E.R., part one

It's been a long, longwait, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is now very nearly upon us. March 23, its launch day, is marked in big red felt tip pen in our diaries. Will the survival-shooter be worth the wait, exciting our hard drives with its gameplay? It's seeming so...

With the game about to hit, we cornered GSC's senior PR manager and very friendly guy Oleg Yavorsky for a chat about stalking through the nuclear wasteland. Part one of the interview is presented below, and we'll be bringing you more shortly, so stay tuned

First question, kind of back to basics: please sum up S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in 200 words or less...

Yavorsky: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a Survival FPS game set in the near-future Chernobyl exclusion zone. According to the game story, there happens a second explosion in the heart of Chernobyl to generate the Zone - a 30-sq-km area of the game - the place plentiful not only of radiation, but also of weird deadly anomalous energy, mutants, hostile NPCs and more.

The player assumes the role of a stalker - a guy roaming the Zone, risking his life, in search of artifacts (generated by anomalies) to sell them later to scientists, dealers etc. The ultimate player's goal is to reveal the mystery behind the Zone - what generated it and why it exists at all.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a difficult game to label, but the best we can come up with is GTA meets Fallout meets Doom meets Resident Evil. Is that a fair approximation?

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been created with big freedom in mind. The player is entrusted with a vast territory and huge world populated by a variety of creatures impacted by bizarre and unknown laws, bearing both peril and glory. The player is also entrusted with a minimal set of items and hinted upon a storyline intrigue. From now on, he's on his own, exploring and fighting against the odds.

The gameplay will be structured in accordance with the way the player constructs it - be it secretive, stealthy operations full of ambushing or lightning-fast assaults. Some players may opt for exploration and trading, while others will become a warrior. It is the freedom that provides a platform for a game you cannot play the same way twice