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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.mod • View topic - Clear Sky...Initial thoughts?

Clear Sky...Initial thoughts?

General Topics -all inclusive- on Clear Sky

Clear Sky...Initial thoughts?

Postby audioave10 on 16 Sep 2008 00:00

I'd like to here everyone's thoughts about this game:
Playing it or not sure when to buy?
Started it...what do you think?
Waiting for another patch?
No problems at all?

For me: I'll wait just a little longer.
"Let the Zone take me if I am"
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Postby DC- on 16 Sep 2008 02:07

I'm really in a talking mood tonight, maybe because I kept my mouth shut for several months not playing stalker at all, just observing the forums.

So here are my thoughts on Clear Sky so far:

Little introduction:
After reading several extremely negative reviews and of course all the negative feedback, complaints and desperate calls for help, I decided to buy the game anyway. As far as I can remember, STALKER SHOC never caused much trouble (modding aside) except for some performance issues in the beginning but that was fixed by switching to different drivers. So although I hoped Clear Sky would be the same, I tried not to expect too much.

Thank god I didn't! I installed it, started it up and was shocked by the poor performance. (Q6600 Quad Core, 8800GT, 2GB of ram, WinXP). After turning down some settings the game crashed on me after two minutes. While having a good laugh about that I started it up again and tried to load my quicksave right after the intro (I somehow knew it'd be necessary). The result was another crash so I had to start a new game and watch the intro again.
Well, it kept going, completely unplayable. Random crashes, corrupted savegames, all inclusive. So I waited for the (latest) patch which luckily was released soon.

Guess what? The game is completely playable now, I only had two crashes so far, in about 10 hours of playing. That's not so bad. There are still some gameplay bugs like sidequests automatically failing or not being completable but it doesn't happen often.
I actually enjoyed it very much so far. Although it's really similar to SHOC, it kinda feels new to me. The zone is finally interesting and dangerous again, you just don't know what's gonna happen. And there's new stuff to explore, new stashes to find.

Levels: I only played the swamps, cordon, garbage, dark valley and agroprom so far and although they are mostly old levels they feel fresh. It's funny to see what the zone was like, one year earlier.

Atmosphere: Still great. Ambient sounds are awesome, the level design is fantastic and the graphics (DX9) are pretty sweet. Especially sunrises are a beauty!
One thing they still didn't fix: sometimes rain makes no sound. Only saving and quickloading fixes that. Boooh!

Enemies: At first I was a little irritated because most of the time I was fighting humans, except for some dogs and boars here and there. But then I realized that the mutants do indeed come out at night. And the nights are pitch black so I didn't go out at night until I upgraded my leather jacket with night vision.

Anomalies/Artifacts: I love how they changed the system. Anomalies are scarce and a lot more dangerous if you're not well protected. Artifacts are really really rare and very valuable, so far not necessarily because of their properties but because of the money they'll earn you.
The "searching for artifacts" system is great in my opinion, I really feel like I have to risk my life to get one of those precious glowing things. But the need for money and my curiosity of what artifact is hiding inside the anomaly is making me try every time...

Resources: In my opinion Clear Sky really is the survival game that STALKER was supposed to be. I struggled a lot for ammunition, medkits, bandages and money. Traders really rip you off, their prices are very high. This is probably what I like most about CS, you really have to decide what to spend your money on and I'm always tempted to collect every single weapon of the enemy to sell it off to a trader so I can afford one more bandage. :lol:

Combat: It's very hard in the beginning. I was running around in my puny leather jacket for a long time because I couldn't afford anything better. At least on veteran difficulty that means dying after two hits with full health. It can get frustrating sometimes, especially because of the grenades, you usually don't have time to run away. But if you listen closely to your enemies, you can hear them announcing their grenade, so start running!
Just so you know: It gets a lot easier once you have better armor. That's probably the most important investment of money early in the game.

I didn't like the way medical supplies were changed:
Medkits stop almost no bleeding while bandages don't heal. Bandages do stop bleeding but not 100%. Sometimes you need 2-4 bandages to stop it. If you run out of bandages and still bleed, you're most probably going to die which is very annoying. So that's when I started "modding" again (if you wanna call it that) and I edited the items.ltx to rebalance the medical supplies and food. I'm gonna post it in the mod section.

Weapons Handling: Until yesterday I didn't like the feel of the weapons at all. Way too inaccurate and the bullet drop off is too exaggerated. I have the feeling they put it in there just for the sake of having it in the game.
Yesterday I realized that doing a low crouch while shooting really helps. Thankfully, so does using ironsights. After that it was a lot better, low crouching behind cover, taking enemies out with headshots, almost like in SHOC. Just don't do it for too long, grenades tend to land right between your legs. :)

Faction Wars: I'm not sure if I like it or not. Gotta play some more. The first time I entered the swamps, I was overwhelmed by 5 missions popping up, people calling for help and objectives to capture certain points. I didn't like that, I want to set my own pacing.
Also I captured the bandit base three times now, I kill all the bandits, walk to the trader after that to resupply and sell loot and in the meantime 10 bandits take the base back. Not a single stalker tried to hold or retake it. Really pointless.

Story: In my opinion the way of story telling was really improved. In SHOC I had problems to follow the storyline with journal entries, PDAs, voice overs that were too short and so on.
In Clear Sky a lot more of the main characters have voice overs and everything is explained a lot better and makes sense.
It was also nice to see some familiar faces.

A couple of Tips: At one point, when you get out of the swamps, GSC decided to create a situation for the player that can require quite a high amount of quickloading before you get through. No idea why it's in there, really one of the most stupid and unnecessary things I've seen in a game so far. I had to look for some help on the forums and see if there was some kind of trick to it, turned out you just have to run a certain way to make it.

People have been complaining a lot about the poor performance. One of the reasons is that the game starts out in the morning with the sun rising. Sun shafts are the main performance killer, even if you don't see them. I turned them down to low and got a huge boost FPS wise. Visually they look almost the same to me.
So even if you kinda have low FPS at the beginning of the game, it gets better once the sun is high enough and the sunshafts disappear.

I also disabled SSAO (screen space ambient occlusion), that's the second performance killer. I didn't notice a difference in image quality, but also I haven't been looking too closely... ;)


Alright, that should be enough, hope this helps some people in their decision making whether to buy the game or not.

Overall I'd give it 8/10 (for version 1.5.04 only! Any previous version doesn't deserve a rating at all.)
-1 for the rather annoying side quests that get auto-failed or can't be completed (had two of them)
-0.5 because of the two crashes
-0.5 because of some frustrating design decisions (like medkits/bandages)

P.S.
My hands are cold now. :(
Come over here, let's have a little chat...
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Postby Nightwatch on 16 Sep 2008 18:30

Thanks, very detailed and informative review, and right up to the point observations :thumbright:
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Postby DARK TEMPLAR on 16 Sep 2008 19:23

Once I get the new PC, CS is defenenly in the buy list, @ DC, your post sure is informative, thanks
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Postby EggChen on 17 Sep 2008 00:57

Thanks DC-- at the moment I am quite down on Clear Sky, but this has helped. I have no doubt I will get it eventually, but this may bring that forward a bit :)

The survival aspect sounds perfect to me, the grenades I can handle, but I do want a PC capable of turning on the eye candy first!! I'm playing Crysis at the moment, everything High except two options and I'm running a 7800gs AGP, so am surprised at the lack of optimisation for CS.

Planning a quad core, nvidia 280 upgrade, but I understand from benchmarks the quad core won't help much (if at all).

Thanks again.
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Postby DC- on 17 Sep 2008 01:21

Nope, quad core doesn't help at all, even when assgning the CPUs manually to CS. But future games like Farcry 2 will probably make use of quad cores, at least they said so. :)

I played through the first underground level yesterday and I was very disappointed. Not creepy at all, very short and almost empty. :(
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Postby DARK TEMPLAR on 17 Sep 2008 06:17

DC- wrote:I played through the first underground level yesterday and I was very disappointed. Not creepy at all, very short and almost empty. :(

Sad indeed :(
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CAN YOU FEEL THE TRANQUILLITY OF THE ZONE
Knowledge is power. Guard it well.
We are shaped by fate, just as we shape it
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Postby jamie1992 on 17 Sep 2008 10:09

Faction Wars

Very awesome and very engaging in all and i noticed everything gets alot more active later on into the game.

Short Story:

Was helping some CS members attack a small camp we killed them all and the renegades sent a counter attack (no suprise there), However the thing i didnt expect was for them to send 5 squads one after the other!!!!!

Also another was at garbage i was at the flea market (near the checkpoint where you go to bar in SOC, its where the broken up building is.

Anyway we got attacked by one squad of bandits and took them out no problem, but then another came, and then another, and another and on and on this went i must have used well over 300-400 rounds from my Toz and all rounds i shot was Slug Rounds as my Toz cant use Shot\Buck as i redid the barrel in an upgrade.

Anyway yes i also noticed that duty send squads from Agro to the Garbage and took over some bandit checkpoints which is sweet.

Oh and before i forget check this:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EofQhGMGnaE

This was a random occurence i was sat at camp chatting to peeps and so on and the counter beeped up rapidly and decided to film as it might be intresting litttle did i know it would turn into what it did but all in all the faction wars and so on are AWESOME!

Will add more stuff later on. Very Happy
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Postby metsapeikko on 18 Sep 2008 16:40

Well, I'm not going to judge Clear Sky yet. Since it doesn't work on ATI cards with latest patches.

Well, it does work, but its not working as its suppose to work. Basically unplayable.
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Postby DARK TEMPLAR on 19 Sep 2008 15:28

One thing I know for sure is that the ambient sounds and the backround music are great :thumbup:
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CAN YOU FEEL THE TRANQUILLITY OF THE ZONE
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We are shaped by fate, just as we shape it
You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die.
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Postby silverpower on 20 Sep 2008 05:45

metsapeikko wrote:Well, I'm not going to judge Clear Sky yet. Since it doesn't work on ATI cards with latest patches.

Well, it does work, but its not working as its suppose to work. Basically unplayable.


You too, huh? Maybe 8.9'll fix it.
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Postby Kanyhalos on 26 Sep 2008 17:38

Clear Sky worked fine for me with 7.7 catalyst, so it might work fine with the newer ones, too, tough I don't have the game itself, I deleted it after my first playthrough, because I didn't like the whole conception, I felt myself in Call of Duty, rather then in a deserted wasteland, in my opinion this faction wars and the overpopulation is ridiculous, the last part of the game is completely linear, and I felt that there are too low amount of mutants in the whole Zone, and I'm really missing the removed levels.
Well, this is just my own opinion only, you guys don't have to share it.:)
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Postby fiznerpin1962 on 01 Oct 2008 02:25

SPOILER ALERT

I thought it was OK. Really like the upgrade options for armor, and the upgrade options for weapons. Could use a little "tweak" on the artifact values (ex: maybe a radiation +8 on slime) what killed it all for me was the endgame where you have to shoot Strelok with the Gauss & then its game over (couldn't ever get him past 1/8" left on the meter) - gave up on getting the final cutscene.
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How I run with no crashes

Postby audioave10 on 06 Oct 2008 07:01

XP SP3 with only 21 processes running in the background.
I have Alternate Frame Rendering set so SLI works.
(Nvidia 8800GTS 512MB in SLI)
No printer software calling home, no IM, no auto-update for AVG, no MS
auto-update.
Run disc-cleanup & defrag before and after install.
I do have 4GB RAM (3GB usable).
I'm using a texture mod and it looks great. Best shadows I've ever seen in a game.
I only use hard/named saves.
Grass shadows set to absolute minimum.
I use a mod that allows you to find artifacts on corpses. I was too lazy to
go to the considerable amount of trouble it takes to get them otherwise.
I just do a few sidequests and so far they have all worked.
I'm enjoying this game..it's like returning to an old friend. I also miss the
levels that were left out (like Bar & Wild territory). More later.
"Let the Zone take me if I am"
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Postby EggChen on 13 Oct 2008 22:01

Well first I freely admit, I only played five minutes before abandoning the game!!

What an utter shower of shite, go here, go there, go back here, go there, but don't walk there, get teleported breaking any immersion, now run up a tower, get a scripted blowout, reappear back there, go here, go back there, again get teleported. Sounds fun doesn't it!!

To make matters worse, I unpacked the files, its basically a mod pack based on AMK!! It even has the old "girls butt" mod for the TV!!!!!!!!!! The scripts and configs make many references to AMK, and the one new weapon has been done already by Gosuke. The new textures look terrible. For example, the icons for the new items look like a mod, not a professional job. Its just lazy, poor and utterly amateur. Many of the new weapon textures are simply the old 2215 beta textures, yes thanks, we had those in SHOC a year ago.

Apologies to anyone who likes this game, I am a massive Stalker fan, but I think this is possibly the most dissapointing sequel I have ever seen.

Oh, one last thing... Stalkers on your PDA I understand, the theory is they have a PDA as well.... but why would mutants show up on the PDA map, even before you have been to an area? Perhaps the Ukrainian government tags all mutants at birth...

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Postby audioave10 on 14 Oct 2008 03:40

EggChen, you go deeper into the makings of this game so I understand
your disgust. However, once out of the swamps the game picks-up alot
and gets much better. There was a break-up of the GSC developers and
you describe well the aftermath. It's still much more open than most
games so I still like it. There are some suprises later in the game.
Mods...always keep my hopes up. I'm using 3 mods already. One is a
texture mod and it is a great improvement. Not sure about the swamps,
but the rest of the game looks wonderful.
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Postby EggChen on 14 Oct 2008 20:38

I'm sure if I had never played a SHOC mod, or messed with the game myself, I would have been impressed with CS. As it is, just seems like a missed opportunity.

Glad you enjoy it buddy, maybe with a bigger gap in between playing (modded) SHOC and CS I could enjoy it too. At the moment I think within minutes of starting I would be jumping out every 5 minutes to tweak something!!

At the moment, I'm going to go turn off the Scorcher in SHOC, and wait for FarCry 2. That does look awesome.

PS. I have been looking through the files again, it is nice to see they gave the Monolith and Freedom suits a proper bumpmap this time! I also like the Freedom outfit based on the standard soldier outfit, and the Duty outfit based on the Skat 9... The improved textures of some items like Stalker faces and mutants look good too, shame they didn't do that with the whole game.

I would have preferred they spend another year and get this one right!! Lets hope Stalker 2 is a game of the year contender!!
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Postby potamac77 on 20 Oct 2008 19:13

EggChen wrote:I would have preferred they spend another year and get this one right!!


Totally agreed :salute:

Also, is STALKER 2 another game to be released later, or another name for CS?
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Postby EggChen on 20 Oct 2008 20:30

Nothing announced, I was just presuming there will be a proper sequel.
Its almost like CS is Stalker : Devmod

I'm hoping that one day there will be a full blown sequel with new engine that can handle a huge Oblivion/Fallout 3/Farcry 2 style map.
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