STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl Tweak Guide
Author: Koroush Ghazi
Last Modified: July 2009
Originally called S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Oblivion Lost, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (hereby referred to without the periods) was announced as far back as 2001 and was due for release in mid 2003. As this screenshot gallery from 2003 shows, the game was quite well-developed, and ahead of its time. It also featured a futuristic theme complete with robots and advanced weaponry, but the graphics and game world was quite similar in appearance to that we see in STALKER today. However somewhere along the way, the game required redevelopment to such a degree that it took another four years past its original due date for it to come to fruition. Fortunately, despite the many doubters and claims that the game was 'vaporware', STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl has finally been released.
I think the best way to describe the game is as a cross between an open-ended RPG like Oblivion and a standard first person shooter such as FEAR. It has elements of both: you have a relatively large, somewhat non-linear game world to explore (called 'The Zone'), with various missions and tasks that you can choose to undertake as you see fit. However you also have to be handy with a gun and have quick reactions if you want to survive long enough to complete your missions and receive your reward. The highlight of the game in my opinion is its use of artificial intelligence (AI), and in particular the 'ALife' system which allows the AI in the game world to wander around and interact with each other whether you are there to witness it or not. Often you'll come across the aftermath of a recent battle between AI combatants, or you may walk straight into a current engagement between them. The storyline is not exceptional, and there are various tedious and often linear elements in the game, but the atmosphere, dynamic game world and challenges of STALKER keep it interesting enough and unique enough to be worth playing in my opinion.
However in the 5 years it's taken to bring the game to market, there still appear to be some elements of the X-Ray Engine which are yet to be fixed, and several patches will be needed to make the game relatively bug-free. At the moment there are no serious issues for most people, but of course many are simply finding it hard to run the game without general performance problems. That's where this guide comes in; it explains all the in-game settings and their actual function and impact, as well as all the advanced tweaking possible with the game engine. Give it a read through to better understand and optimize STALKER on your machine.
Note: This guide refers to the latest version of STALKER Version 1.0006. Make sure to refer back to this guide often for updates.