Grey M@a survives to give us his verdictThe following review was submitted by Grey M@a, one of our regular contributors at HEXUS.gaming. The opinions expressed in this review are his own and not necessarily the views of the HEXUS team.
Once again we are drawn back into the bleak waste land that surrounds Chernobyl shortly after the events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl, ravished and occupied by all unfortunate enough to be there. The mutants roam free, packs of stalkers have flooded into the area after the news of Strelok opening the path to the centre of the zone and this time the military want a piece of the action and claim it for their own benefit.
As usual with all S.T.A.L.K.E.R games you are normally dumped into the zone not knowing where you are and what you are doing until you get to your first checkpoint and introduced to your first NPC. Call of Pripyat however gives you a five minute slideshow at the start of the game with a gruff Russian voice explaining to you what has happened and why you are there. This may seem out of place for fans of the game that are used to being a lone stalker, this time around you are an undercover secret service agent, Alexander Degtyaryov, who has been sent into the zone to investigate five crashed military helicopters that disappeared without warning after being sent to scout the centre of the zone.
The Zone feels as desolate as it should, this being an area that was decimated by a nuclear blast destroying and mutating all in its path. You get the sense of isolation throughout the game just as you did at points in Shadow of Chernobyl adding to the tension of the surroundings. The slightest noise, scream, beep from your radar or the rustle of tall grass will easily unsettle you and make you think twice about diving in head first. You constantly feel as if you are about to be set upon whilst in reality you could be the only living thing within miles of your immediate position but when that moment comes you instantly become alert and on edge wondering what has you in their sights, especially when the all too familiar, chilling soundtrack cuts in to break the silence.
Within minutes of starting your mission you come across the new layout of the game. The abundant side quests and missions are still there but this time around they have a purpose although the main story this time seems to have no substantial premise on your progress. It never fully unfolds or resolves any of the main stories unanswered questions with focus now being aimed firmly on your actions during the game. No longer are you sent on side quests to run half way across the map, shoot and collect items and then run back to your original starting point. Your decision at that moment in time will dictate rest of the game and how it progresses.