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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow Of Chernobyl Review

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Virtual world shooter that has delivered on its promise.

★★★★★

After spending six tortuous years in development – and teasing players with endless previews and false release dates – most PC gamers will think of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as a conventional first-person shooter. But in reality, THQ’s sprawling adventure is much, much more.

Using the ingenious A-Life system, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is the closest any game has come to creating a living, breathing world; staged in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear facility, the game presents a grotty landscape where life goes on regardless of your presence, with NPCs who’ll chat and bicker amongst themselves, ever-shifting weather patterns, and mutant animals who’ll attack each other for food and to satisfy their bloodlust. Moreover, every time you begin a game the action unfolds in a completely different way, the game’s freeform structure also allowing you to ditch objectives mid-mission and choose your own path, leading players towards a series of wildly different conclusions.

Deep role-playing elements, atmospheric visuals and grittily realistic gunplay also help make S.T.A.L.K.E.R. a compelling adventure, and one of the few overdue games that was actually worth the wait.

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