I decided to have another go at S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat, a game I bought ages ago under the impression it was similar in game play to Borderlands. My first disappointment came when I realized it wasn't co-op, so I couldn't play it with friends... we put it up and I didn't look at it for a good two years.

Dusting it off and giving it another chance, my first impression is it's incredibly unforgiving. I usually "man-up" and play the game on second hardest or hardest difficulty, but oh no. Even with the leaning out from behind hard cover, the rifle accuracy is terrible (which is probably a good thing, twitch-aim headshot insta-kills are probably the worst thing to happen to FPSes in forever), and the odd lucky bullet that manages to whizz at you and impact flesh does untold amounts of damage.

The bleed/wound system is amazing, and makes a real sense of urgency of not getting hit - as opposed to Call Of Duty style games where you simply hide behind hard cover and wait for the red border to disappear. I think it'd be better if bandages and first aid kits had an animation rather than being able to pop them mid-firefight.

I lowered the difficulty slightly and restarted the game and things went much more smoothly. The quest system is terrible, unfortunately - it's incredibly easy to fail a mission and not know why or when. I've not figured out how to switch quests either.

But once I get the hang of not getting shot, the game becomes almost consequence free. I did a few missions in the first two areas, got the jump on a few bandits and mugged them, and pretty soon I was swimming in bandages and medkits, had amassed a fortune of over 50,000RU after having upgraded all my weapons (a few of which I was leaving in my personal box to make room in my inventory) as much as I could without finding tools.

I felt like the entire experience left me without motivation - what was my character doing? Then I remembered the main questline, and started asking about the helicopters again. I walked towards one of the crash sites and was taken apart by what I think was someone with a rocket launcher, without any explanation of what just happened.

I would think my lack of enjoying this game would say more about me than it does the game, that I can't enjoy a game unless I have a cinematic war-porn script guiding me towards some righteous end goal... but I enjoy Minecraft, when I have friends to play with. Maybe that's what this game is missing.

On the whole for it's age, this game's a pretty neat experience. I don't particularly think it's much fun, and I don't see what warrants the hype this series gets, but I can certainly see it's charms.

Red Lion VIC 3371, Australia fwaggle

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