109 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 40.4 hrs on record
Posted: Nov 25, 2013 @ 10:26pm
Updated: Dec 21, 2015 @ 7:52pm

A Paladin's Review: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat. A Polished Yet Stark Post Apocalyptic World.
  • Genre: FPS RPG Post-Apocalyptic Horror Open World.
  • Developed and Published by: GSC Game World
  • Platform: Windows Only.
  • Business Model: Base Game.
  • Copy Purchased by Myself
Read the full & unabridged review on A Paladin Without A Crusade[kingisaaclinksr.com]

Overall Gameplay Thoughts
If Shadow of Chernobyl was the wild west of the STALKER universe, Call of Pripyat is the "civilized" entry into the series. My immediate impression of the game is that it's much more polished, with refined mechanics and a much more stable world to explore. Its clear that the developers didn't want another buggy Shadow of Chernobyl again. However, there were trade-offs with this approach. Unlike the creepy and danger-around-every-corner feeling that SoC gives you, CoP comes off as a more stark and alien. As if this wasn't Earth anymore. The "living world" that was present in SoC is much more subdued and scaled back in CoP and some mechanics were removed to my disappointment. Despite my disappointments, they didn't overshadow the sheer fun surviving in the Zone. After all, what could possibly be more enjoyable than listening to glorious Russian accents, finding strange anomalies and surviving the mutants of the Exclusion Zone.

Combat Thoughts
The game is more complete, better balanced and more variety of weapons no doubt thanks to its focused development cycle. You can also modify your suits and weapons this time around was also a nice change, allowing for a much more RPG-like experience. My favorite gun had to be the railgun you picked up in the later part of the game, the sound from firing it was just too cool. Overall, weapons feel very well balanced and have their own pros, cons and punch to each weapon. Ammo is still pretty limited but there are more merchants to buy from so it's not terribly difficult to keep a good supply on hand. Everything is suitably deadly, requiring you to keep on your toes the entire time.

Exploration Thoughts
Exploration in this game is better and more rewarding. There are plenty of interesting areas to look around, people to meet and creepy as heck underground structures to freak out in. I noticed more of the exploration took place out in the zone more than in underground facilities unlike SoC which had several notable X Labs to explore. That being said, there's still a creepy lab or two to get creeped out in.

Atmosphere and the World
If there is something to be disappointed about, its the reduction of mechanics from the previous entry. Gone is how epic the A-Life engine felt when creatures roamed the lands and danger was around every possible corner. That sense of risk evaporated. In SoC, you could come across battles going on or the aftermath. Also gone are the risks to the NPCs, the zone changing around you on a regular basis with every emission. Any important quest giver won't be killed this time around which I felt was a damn shame. Gone is that sense of continual change that SoC had. In SoC, factions fought each other over land and constant conflicts. When certain events, those factions took advantage of the craze to get into all-out warfare. The Zone feels static now, not as unpredictable as it used to be. It stays put for the majority of the main story. Instead, it goes for more mechanical purity and straightforward experience. I can't blame them for going that route and I'm certainly not going to complain about it being a lot less buggy than CoP. However, I do wish they had taken the A-Life engine to a whole new level rather than step back.

PC Settings & Modding
CoP is largely clean of bugs in its vanilla state so modding isn't as required as it was in SoC though there is some. The expected PC settings are mostly here though you have to do some modding to open up Field of View options, V-sync and borderless windowed mode. You can find more about that on PCGamingWiki[pcgamingwiki.com]. In game you have a selection of resolution options, quality options, full screen on/off and sliders for gamma, contrast and brightness. Advanced options include vision distance, object detail, texture detail, anisotropic filtering, antialiasing, grass detail density, lighting distance, and shadow quality sliders. In fact, there's almost nothing you can't tweak and change in the advanced graphics options. Everything from SSAO modes to volumetric light to NPC flashlights, there's a crazy amount of choices to optimize your experience. CoP is the best optimized game of the lot too so your computer shouldn't have too much trouble running it. There's only two audio sliders this time around for SFX and music which is a bit limited. Key rebinding and secondary keys are also supported.

Final Thoughts
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. remains one of the most memorable series I've had the chance to play. The journey has been exciting, terrifying and challenging all at the same time. Call of Pripyat is the least buggy and better overall game of the series. But, I feel it loses that sense of risk that Shadow of Chernobyl took, instead going for a more standard open world experience. It's still incredibly compelling compared to most open worlds though. I still want to return to the Zone again and tackle it again. Which is pretty rare for me to want to do with most open world games. What can I say, it's a unique series. Its tragic that the development studio closed its doors. While GSC has been rumored to return, I'm doubtful that we will see another STALKER game again. I definitely recommend this game if you're into the FPS, RPG and post-Apocalyptic type titles such as these. Despite all of its flaws and quirks, the experience is well worth taking head-on.

Read this review and more on A Paladin Without A Crusade[kingisaaclinksr.com]
A Paladin's Review: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
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KingIsaacLinksr Dec 31, 2016 @ 12:54pm 
Thanks for the comment Bagged Milk! I'm glad you appreciated it :).
Bagged Milk Dec 31, 2016 @ 9:33am 
I'll just buy both Shadow of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat and be happy then.

Fantastic review. You actually took a look at both games and their core mechanics, plus the differences in each. This is what I was looking for, not the meme "russia simulator" reviews.