Stalker: Clear Sky - Is Your System Ready?

Stalker Clear Sky should probably be called Stalker v1.5. You don’t have to know the precursor, Shadow of Chernobyl, to enjoy this one, though it would help if you’ve played it before. Inspired by the movie, the main character is a stalker (go figure) who fights his way through the contaminated areas around Chernobyl. The main objectives are pretty straightforward: fight, explore the environment, perform a handful of small tasks, and then fight some more.

The restricted zone is full of renegades, other stalkers and mutants, although the real danger comes from the radiation and resulting anomalies. These are characteristic of what the illegal inhabitants lovingly call “the Zone.” If you manage not to stumble into a deadly anomaly, get contaminated by radiation, or get ripped apart by mutated wild dogs, then the military will hunt you without mercy. Officially, no one is allowed in the Zone.

In Clear Sky, the time period is before Shadow of Chernobyl and the known areas in the first version are further extended. The character starts in a new large swamp area so more experienced players don’t get bored with content they’ve already seen. After that, you get into the known (but slightly changed) areas, as well as new areas.

The level of difficulty at the beginning is pretty easy, but once you have built your first military base it suddenly gets a lot harder. Even if you play on the lowest level, you get snuffed out pretty quickly. The wimpy solders from the first version are now super-tough and shoot extremely well. Also, the anomalies and radiation are even deadlier — one wrong step, and your journey is over.

A nice additional feature of Clear Sky is the repair of equipment and the upgrading system for weapons and armor. It would have been cool to have a self-improving-character that betters its skills with experience; currently, you distinguish your combat strength only by your weapons and equipment. The better they are, the higher your chance of survival.

The game is not approved for children, so it isn’t censored (as it says on the German cover). The game runs well on a Core 2 Duo and Geforce 8800 GTS at 1920x1200 pixels if you turn off anti-aliasing and DX10 lighting effects. For maximum graphics quality at high-def resolutions, you will need a Radeon HD 4870 or GeForce GTX 280 graphics card; you can read in our performance comparison about how well the game does with the HD 3870, HD 4850, HD 4870, GeForce 8800 GTS 512, 9600 GT, 9800 GTX, GTX 260 and GTX 280. If you want to get the most out of your game, you can get explanations of the optimal graphics settings from the forthcoming pictures and tables.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • V3ctor
    Page 7 is not available... It gives an error, as if the page doesn't exist.
  • magicandy
    Aside from the numerous pages that don't work, was a 24-page analysis of STALKER, a fairly mediocre shooter, really necessary? Is a 24-page analysis of any game necessary? Sigh anything to please devs and grab ad dollars -_-
  • pogsnet
    Now crysis is obsolete =p
  • haplo602
    hmm ... I loled when I saw the graphics error in the water tests. the camo-net disappeared everywhere it obscured water in all modes other than static. but you get a nice looking water effect :-)

    I was wondering if I can get this game to run on reasonable terms on a HD4670 or HD3850. Based on the HD3870 results, it looks like it would be playable ...
  • cangelini
    V3ctorPage 7 is not available... It gives an error, as if the page doesn't exist.

    Not sure what you're seeing (or not, in this case), but everything is working over here. Any more detail?
  • randomizer
    magicandySigh anything to please devs and grab ad dollars -_-
    Dude, the GSC can't even afford to hire a dozen half-decent developers, let alone pay for ads.
  • blackwidow_rsa
    I had 'page not found' errors too, but they seem fixed now
  • randomizer
    No page errors here.
  • ravenware
    Nice article, I liked the quality comparisons a lot
  • xx12amanxx
    I like the article ive been playing this on a 4870 for about a week now and absolutly love it!
  • dimaf1985
    magicandyAside from the numerous pages that don't work, was a 24-page analysis of STALKER, a fairly mediocre shooter, really necessary? Is a 24-page analysis of any game necessary? Sigh anything to please devs and grab ad dollars -_-

    A fairly mediocre shooter? Youre obviously an idiot.

    The real question here is what was the point of the first 9 pages? Is this a review on a graphics analysis article? C'mon on, Tom's, get it together.

    Other than the first 9 pages, nice article. Very in-depth.
  • Luscious
    No 4870x2 in that roundup? What about some CF/SLI numbers?
  • radnor
    Well, i found it a decent review. I liked how they categorized the cards and presented the game. This review might not ring you bells but it is not too bad.

    Not that I'm going to buy this game atm. Its too hilarious to see the stock market now. Oh, well :)
  • V3ctor

    It posted as a bad link... as if i got a link (for example 1 year ago, and now doesn't work)... But it's fine now... never mind :)

    Good review... 24 pages is a lot, u covered a lot of angles... including the graphics cards.
  • Anonymous
    The game is definitely an improvement on the first one - on paper at least.
    The problem is the huge amount of game crashes. I played the game for about 8 hours, progressing all the way to The Garbage level when my crashes started. I was forced to install the latest patch, but that meant I had to start all over again. Although I this time got twice as far, the game still crashes - although now instead of rebooting the PC, it is caught by a built-in bug tracker.
    I am really dissapointed now, cause after one of these crashes, my game is now stuck at the Yantar level - where I'm supposed to meet up with a character, but when you get to the character, he is completely inactive. I've moved backwards and forwards in levels, but I cannot get this dude to react to my presence.

    I suspect I will probably have to restart the game, but I think I am going to abandon - at least untill a newer patch, and then hope the new patch will recognize my current saves.

    Advice: Make regular custom saves - not just quicksaves...
  • mr roboto
    More like is STALKER ready? From what I've heard it's not. Numerous bugs and crashes, but then again the first game was like that so would you expect anything less?
  • modtech
    Patch 1.5.05 is out. The game never crashed or glitched for me and I've gone from start to finish, joined in on 3 different faction wars and explored the crap out of every area. I also finished crysis warhead and that CTDed twice from the start to the end.
  • ahslan
    I dont know if Im convinced on getting this STALKER...I was hugely disappointed with the first one (especially since sooo many people said it was a great game)...
    For me, its the exact opposite of crysis...I didnt get crysis for the longest time because soo many people said it wasnt worth it, but once I took a chance on it, I loved I got warhead which so far has be amazing...
  • modtech
    Warhead is short and shallow. Not a bad game but anyway. If you're talking about Stalker:SOC then you would do well to look at the modding community which really made the game the memorable experience it is to many. (Notably the oblivion lost mod)

    I've played and finished both crysis games. They are in no way comparable to the atmospheric freedom that the stalker games have. You just can't compare them. Change the point of view to multiplayer and things might be different. Otherwise I you comment comes across as poorly thought out and shallow.
  • Yuka
    Very nice review indeed. I missed the 4870X2 and 9800GX2 though, but it was a nice review indeed.

    I liked the "Performance Comparison" at the end the most. That's the most usefull piece of info you guys can give the reader: easy to digest pointers and info for overall game experience. Two thumbs up for that =)