On the occasion of the return of Stalker, scheduled for this year, we review everything we know about the new installment and remember why we love the saga so much.
The other day, when reviewing all the shooters coming out in 2021, the outlook seemed so promising that it reminded us of the golden age of FPS, back in 2007. That year marked a before and after in the genre. Halo 3, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, BioShock, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Portal, and a list that goes on and on. It was a time of big names … and big changes. The goodbye of the medicine cabinet, the arrival of modern warfare, the polarization of the genre (sandbox or corridors), its new political and cinematographic dimension, and so on. It also coincided with an unprecedented technical push and with the confrontation between two online philosophies: that of our childhood (Quake, Team Fortress, Unreal Tournament) and that of Call of Duty, whose design and progression system would eventually prevail. It was, in short, the emergence of the 21st century. A whirlwind of releases that devoured you as soon as you got away from perfection. There was so much and so good to choose from that either you were up to the task, or you didn’t exist. There were no delays here, no second chances. The ribbon had been raised several inches and the same was true with the measuring stick. It may sound a bit exaggerated, but that’s the way it was. Such were the ruthless days of legend in which Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl flourished. You can imagine how good the fuck had to be so that, being a new IP and coming from a practically unknown developer, it managed to survive 2007 by sneaking into the hearts of many players above the masterpieces of Valve, Nintendo or Infinity Ward.
Getting to Know Stalker 2 … Through the Original
Today at MeriStation we do not remember 2007, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R., like this, with capital letters, and we do it on the occasion of Stalker 2, scheduled for this year. We wanted to review how much we know about the game so far, but its development is as opaque and mysterious as the original. It has left very few crumbs along the way and we have decided that, before remembering its news, the very few news announced so far, there is no better way to explain what STALKER is than by remembering that first installment. Because to tell the truth, its creators did enjoy a certain fame prior to its launch, although not too good. Within the RTS genre, the name of GSC Game World (Ukraine, 1995) was associated with the Cossacks saga (2001), which, although not bad, was overshadowed by many larger titles (Age of Mithology, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Europa Universalis, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, Medieval: Total War, Pikmin, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, etc.). For its part, at the beginning of the century the name Stalker was synonymous with smoke. The game had been announced in 2001, it was only delayed and the promises around it were increasingly embarrassing. “The ultimate game of all time.” “The artificial intelligence will be so good that even an NPC can complete the game before you.” A string of lies that sought to attract distributors and investors. THQ ended up biting and a couple of years ago our colleagues at Eurogamer gave us a hilarious article about what THQ herself found when she traveled to Ukraine to find out the true status of the project. Has no loss: The Californian sent to save Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl from development hell. You can imagine. It was necessary to cut corners from all sides to make it possible that, after more than six years of delays and vaporware, the title would end up on sale in 2007. It had many bugs, suffered a good number of technical problems and among the press it did not even reach the outstanding, but it was an immediate, resounding success, with more than two million copies sold in its first twelve months of life.