S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: A great series of first-person shooter games where you roam an open world full of dangers and treasures. Call of Pripyat: The final episode that takes you back to The Zone to survive all the radioactivity, anomalies, mutants and of course other people, while trying to discover what happened to the military choppers sent to the centre of The Zone, but disappeared.

Release Date

October 2009.

Pros

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series have always had excellent atmosphere. Call of Pripyat takes it one step further by giving the option to turn off the user interface. It makes it a lot more difficult to play, but at least the option is there for those that want to see the game this way.

The graphics have improved in all aspects since Clear Sky. The things I noticed most though is the better lighting and shadow effects.

Just like Clear Sky and Shadow of Chernobyl before it, Call of Pripyat sounds excellent and gives an awesome surround sound experience.

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games have always had a creepy atmosphere, but the slight ambient sounds and music in Call of Pripyat gives it an even creepier atmosphere than the rest.

The whole Zone environment has improved since Clear Sky. There is a lot more random activity than the previous games. Groups of people move around and engage in combat. Mutants roam around and sometimes even wander near safe zones… Well, if you can call it a safe zone.

The AI has improved since Clear Sky. The stupid gun fighters are still stupid, but then there are smart fighters as well, and they indeed are smart. This is the first fps game where an enemy went into hiding and never came back out. I had to go in after him and he was there waiting for me.

The equipment customisation and dynamic action music from Clear Sky is also present in Call of Pripyat.

The side missions are more interesting than in previous games. Some of the missions are quite puzzling and requires good exploration as well as good thinking to solve. Even more so than Shadow of Chernobyl.

The story is very interesting. Not as awesome as Shadow of Chernobyl, but is definitely better than Clear Sky. The ending gives a conclusion to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, but at the same time also leaves enough room to make a sequel. Depending on the decisions you made in the game, different people can have different endings. There is no ending movie as such. Instead, a slide show plays as the conclusion is narrated to you.

The weapons’ weights not only affects your in-game inventory, but also influences how fast you can turn the weapon with the mouse. This was most noticeable when I first picked up the light machine gun, although different guns do move at different rates. I do wonder whether this was already part of Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky as I only noticed it in Call of Pripyat. It sure adds to the realism that the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series holds so high.

Cons

Faction wars in Clear Sky are not in Call of Pripyat. Yes, people from different factions still duke it out when they randomly meet each other in The Zone, but there are no missions for you to help take over checkpoints.

The game seemed perfect at the beginning. Everything worked well and smoothly. Then I reached Pripyat and the game started crashing randomly now and then.

Other Points

In general Call of Pripyat is pretty much an improved version of Clear Sky with new content.

The artifacts’ effects are similar to Clear Sky with some slight modifications.

There are only three map areas which is about half the number of the previous games. On the plus side, each of the map areas in Call of Pripyat are huge! Believe me, you will not get bored.

Story wise I do recommend playing through Shadow of Chernobyl first, then optionally play through Clear Sky and finally conclude with Call of Pripyat. Although good fun, I think Clear Sky is the weakest of the three games and the story does not add much to Call of Pripyat or Shadow of Chernobyl.

Biases

Reviewed version 1.6.02 of the game.

I am a big fan of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky.

I have completed Call of Pripyat once on the easiest difficulty level of rookie.

I only played the single player campaign.

DRM

A DRM free version is available from GOG.com.

The version I got from GamersGate uses Tages DRM.

A CD-Key must be entered during installation. It looks like this is for Internet multiplayer.

When you start the game for the first time, another serial number must be entered. Then information (do not know what information) is sent to the Tages server to get an activate code.

For me the game tried to connect to the Tages server and failed. It then gave an option to send information to the Tages server via http but that failed as well. I just could not connect to the Tages server via the Tages client or the web browser. In the end I did manage to get the activation code by using the http method and connecting through my VPN. I can only guess that the Tages server does not serve the Asian region or something. What ever the true reason is it is not good. If I did not have VPN it would be another case of DRM punishing customer.

Note that the GamersGate edition of Call of Pripyat provides the keys/serial in the wrong order on their website. The second number must be entered on installation and the first number must be entered when first starting the game.

It appears that GamersGate has got a new version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat which uses Starforce instead of Tages. So, all of the stuff I wrote above is probably not relevant anymore.

Minimum Requirements (as stated in the readme)

  • Microsoft® Windows® XP (Service Pack 2)
  • Processor type: Intel Pentium 4 2.2 Ghz / AMD XP 2200+
  • 768 MB RAM
  • 6 GB available hard drive space
  • 128 MB DirectX® 9.0 compatible card / nVIDIA® GeForce™ 5900 / ATI Radeon® 9600 XT
  • DirectX® 9.0 compatible sound card
  • LAN/Internet connection with low latency Cable/DSL speeds for multiplayer
  • Keyboard, Mouse

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1GB RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

If you run Call of Pripyat in DirectX 10 mode and the game is crashing on start up on a Windows 7 64bit PC, it may be caused by the Platform Update for Windows 7×64-Edition (KB2670838). This was an optional update for my PC and from reading around, it was supposed to enhance some graphics stuff and prepare the PC for IE 10. I uninstalled the update and the game started running fine. Checking a few games before and after uninstalling the update, I did not notice any performance changes. I found this information from this forum thread.

Recommended Mods

Call of Pripyat Complete – This is an amazing mod that brings better graphics, sounds, Yakety Sax and more.

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