S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha (Windows)

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Description

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha is a free and standalone game that uses assets from various stages of the development of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, as well as assets created by dedicated fans. It has a much bigger Zone and restores features such as vehicles to drive around the zone, factions fighting for power, a players actions affecting his or her reputation among factions and important stalkers, as well as numerous missions and plot elements that were once lost to time.

As with the original game, the story is set in the year 2012 - some time after a second Chernobyl disaster which causes the heavily radioactive zone to expand greatly and further corrupt and pervert the Zone by filling it with hideous mutations and strange anomalies that burn flesh, crush bones, and even manipulate time and space itself. Soon brave but violent men known as Stalkers are drawn to the zone, seeking fame and fortune by hunting down artifacts created by the anomalies and selling them for a pretty penny or perhaps keeping them for the powers or buffs it may grant the stalker wielding it.

The story proper follows a stalker known as "The Marked One," who was found alive among the wreckage of a 'Death Truck,' mysterious trucks that leave and enter the zone hauling corpses - often missing stalkers. He awakens with no recollection of who he was or why he was in the zone, left with only one memento: A PDA commanding him to 'Kill The Strelok.' He is told by a greedy trader named Sidoryvich that The Strelok is a renowned Stalker that somehow managed to make it past a part of the zone known as The Brain Scorcher - a terrifying place that lives up to its name and boils the brains of all who enter and leaves them as mindless zombies - and into the heart of the zone: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself. Not much else is known about Strelok, but his actions have stirred the hive and Stalkers far and wide are now trying to find Strelok's trick into the Heart of the Zone, which is said to grant those who survive the journey into the deadly halls of the NPP their innermost desires.. but if The Marked One is to know more, he must learn the ways of a Stalker and venture forth into the Zone himself - following the breadcrumbs left by Strelok and slowly uncovering the mysteries surrounding the Zone itself...

Just like the original game it is a first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on horror and survival as well as intense, strategic combat. The player must learn to survive the Zone and its many dangers while also remembering to eat, drink, and sleep while managing supplies. Ammunition must be clipped to the belt before it can be used, likewise only a limited inventory of weapons may be equipped at a time though the player can carry multiple weapons and ammo types in their backpack provided they do not weigh themselves down which will tire them fast and prevent them from sprinting. Other items must also be attached to the belt, such as detectors which are used to warn the player of anomalies as well as help them discover artifacts, many of which too can be attached to the belt and may benefit the player with buffs that help seal bullet wounds faster or make them sprint longer, but often these artifacts also have debuffs and may also irradiate the player which can be harmful and eventually even fatal to their health. Anti-radiation drugs, medkits, and bandages are a must.

Combat plays out between a mixture of human enemies and various categories of mutants. Human enemies can range from bandits to members of an enemy faction or anyone whom the player has somehow wronged. Combat is challenging and relies on a realistic ballistics model which causes bullets to drop and requires precise aim, and battles tend to rely heavily on strategic thinking on part of the player. Battles with mutants are much more hectic as mutants will charge, surround, and attack the player more directly and frequently and some mutants boast attacks such as deadly psionic blasts or the ability to confuse and distract the player with hallucinations, whereas some can go partially invisible and use low light environments against the player.

The environment itself is also very much an enemy. The Zone is filled with heavily irradiated areas, but more pressing are the anomalies which have a range of effects on the player which the player must learn and adapt to in order to survive. Some anomalies send bursts of lightning at the player or throw them into the air and slam them against walls, some hide in foliage and act like organic bear traps that spring on the player when they step too close to the traps tentacles and some are even mobile and can douse the player in deadly flames. However, the player will at some point need to venture into dangerous anomalous zones either for the sake of the plot or in order to gather artifacts, which spawn in specific anomalies with some artifacts being rarer and more valuable than others.

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Mana Pool May 02, 2014 8.5 out of 10 85

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Kaddy B. (791) added S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha (Windows) on Feb 24, 2015