Year 2012. Six years passed since the time of the Second catastrophe to have made the April events of 1986 fade. The game is set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone which turned from a destiny-breaker place into a threat to all mankind.
The Zone is reluctant to open up its mysteries and needs to be forced to do it. It is a rare hero who can reach the very heart of the Zone onto find out what danger awaits him there. A danger which, compared to marauders and enemy groupings, all monsters and anomalies, will seem a mere preparation to the meeting with something more fatal and threatening.
But for now… get ready, hero. Collect artefacts and trade, grope your path and keep an eye on the rear, catch roentgens and fight – only make sure you survive! And then, perhaps, if you are persistent and truly lucky, you will find out why all this had fallen on you.
Broken. Absolutely and utterly broken. Not the game, oh no, it's my fragile nerves that have been shattered. Adrenalin is still coursing through my veins as I type, and what's more, I absolutely love it. STALKER is a thoroughly affecting game, and it's got me by the short hairs. [Apr 2007, p.56]
I loved every single challenging, compelling, atmosphere-laden moment of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. It's just so different from everything else that's out there.
From its alternate reality setting and realistic gun mechanics to its trading system and action horror formula, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is radioactive rareness.
By itself, the game is a fascinating achievement, even if you trip over technical cracks more than you should.
The game's "exclusion zone" setting, a no-man's-land roughly 30 square kilometers surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, is very much "Mad Maxim": post-Soviet road warriors just beyond the containment dome. Bleak as the end of the world (or at least life as we know it), it's an invention as gorgeous as years-old graphics overhauled for a late launch get.
The clunky interface, numerous bugs, fractured story telling and underdeveloped ideas do distract from what could well have been a real classic, but the fact that GSC have come through development hell to produce a game as memorable as this is quite an achievement.
Flaws abound in the game.