I’ve been playing some more STALKER; for the most part, it’s pretty decent without being spectacular. A recurring theme in reviews is praise for its atmosphere, which is certainly one of its strong points. “The Zone”, the area around Chernobyl, exudes post-apocalyptic decay, a radioactive wasteland of long abandoned villages populated with bandits and mutated wildlife, dotted with strange anomalies threatening to electrocute you or crush you in fields of warped gravity. Most levels so far have been set in these wide open spaces, with one notable exception, a mission to retrieve documents from laboratory X18. I won’t spoil it for anyone who might try the game, but going further and further down into the pitch black laboratory, lit by a pool of light from your torch or viewed through flickering green-hued night vision was a *very* creepy experience.
One problem with the game, though; a patch has just come out which requires any saved games to be deleted. I haven’t hit any show-stopping bugs yet, and the patch notes seem more focused on multiplayer, so I’m not sure whether to bother patching it or not. Then again, I was half thinking of restarting anyway, so maybe I’ll give it a try.