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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky Review

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Let's all go to Chernobyl...

★★★★★

As the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was lost in development hell for almost a decade, by the time it finally arrived it swept critics and players along in a tsunami of five-star hype that, in retrospect, the game probably didn’t deserve. Miraculously, despite the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s protracted development cycle, it’s only taken the coders 12 months to churn out a prequel – and while Clear Sky is another gripping exercise in atmosphere, storytelling and flexible, freeform gaming, not enough has changed to warrant another stellar score.

This time S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s clever blend of role-playing and blasting has been enhanced by deeper squad dynamics that add extra pace to the fierce gunplay, a complex faction system where you can more effectively flit between different groups as they battle for control of the exclusion zone surrounding post-meltdown Chernobyl, and a smattering of simple puzzles that add an extra layer of challenge to the action. But while there are countless other games already delivering what Clear Sky offers as enhancements, there’s little here to seduce players who’ve battled their way through the bleak original.

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