So, the release date for this game is a few days away, but some stores are already selling it (around here at least). Apparently the russian version was released as early as last week. Picked up a copy this morning, and have played a couple of hours. This will probably be a long post. I have mixed feelings about the game so far. I have a semi-old rig, and I'm very pleased that I can get STALKER running really smoothly. I could even turn on a lot of the bells and whistles, as long as I keep the dynamic lighting off (completely kills my system if i turn it on). It looks really good to my eyes, not the absolute shiniest. But the setting and atmosphere obviously makes up for it. I'm really happy that I can run it as smoothly as I can, I wish more developers would choose this approach instead of having the absolute best graphics possible. Anyways, the best thing here is obviously the atmosphere. They've managed to convey the ruined and torn apart feel of the zone very well. Very well done. The game also actually feels dangerous. If you run into a pack of dogs, and they decide that they want you for dinner, it's not a good idea to stand there and try to kill them all. Alternatively, you can manage to scare them away by shooting at them, or if you kill one or two of them. It seems that a lot of the 'animal life' don't have anything valuable on them, so you don't really want to mess with them unless you're really in a tight spot. I really like this, it tends to emphazise the whole survival aspect. It's not like Oblivion where you can just stampede right through the deepest wilderness without a care. You should take care in STALKER, and that's a great thing. The AI is good from what I've seen so far. The dynamic system actually allows for some quite cool, unscripted events to happen. I'm not sure if this will manage to 'stay fresh' when you've played the game a lot, but for now, it feels exciting. You can find STALKERs (both friendly and hostile) out in the wilderness. Sometimes in groups, sometimes on their own. Occasionally you'll see them fighting off animals, or each other. This can provide golden situations for the player as you can loot the corpses afterwards, and again... Unlike a lot of other games, it feels good to get your hands medkits, bandages, ammo and weapons here. There are also some bad points. The writing in this game is... wow. It's atrocious. Absolutely terrible. It's just really dull and uninspired, and the characters completely lack... character. I also saw a rather clumsy mistake, two words with no space between them ('very bad' becomes 'verybad' for example). I hope there won't be more errors of this kind, but it just feels really sloppy, I don't think they spent to much time on this. Perhaps it's the translation to English that is bad, I really don't know, but ugh. As for the quests, there seems to be quite a number of your standard fed-ex quests. Go there, kill that, retrieve the thing, bring it back and get the reward. I know this isn't a RPG, but again... the writing really hurts the quests as well. Even standard 'fetch quests' can be made somewhat interesting if the writing is good, but it doesn't seem like this is the case with STALKER. One thing I really wished for in this game, was that you would be able to find lots of old journals, and 'lore' about the history of the zone. Again, I have to stress that I haven't been playing this for very long, but I'm starting to doubt that there will be much lore in this game (outside the main quest). And if there is, I have a feeling that the horrible writing will make it less interesting than it should be. Sad but true. Finally, I have to say that STALKER is, well... It's a FPS. And when I played this game, I remembered why I don't usually buy these types of games. I just don't find FPS very fun, and also, I really suck at them. This is a bit frustrating as I find myself getting owned over and over again when battling other STALKERs in this game, I just can't hit anything. Hopefully I will get better, otherwise it might destroy the game completely for me. Even at the easiest difficulty I have no trouble at all getting myself shot to death. I'm still having fun with it, and I'm definitely gonna continue playing. But for anyone thinking of buying it, I would definitely try it out at a friends house first.