Russian Developers Give STALKER a 2012 Makeover
|NEWS - VIDEOGAME NEWS|
It might not be the most popular franchise of its time, but STALKER has paved the way for a whole sub-genre of post-apocalyptic shooters. Now, a team of modders plans to give the series a 2012 overhaul by bringing it to one of the most powerful game engines on the market.
The STALKER series of games has sadly gone bust after Ukrainian developers GCS Game World disbanded earlier this year, after many months of hanging grimly on life support. But the future of gruelling, post-apocalyptic open world shooters may not be as bleak as we once thought.
A group of Russian modders known as OWL Game Studio have developed a fully working mod using CryEngine 2 (the engine used by the absolutely stunning Crysis) called CryZone: Sector 23. The game follows the story of a man driven mad with grief after the death of his son, who then wanders into the Zone - an area of irradiated nastiness around the abandoned Chernobyl site where the laws of physics do not always apply and a myriad selection of mutants and other nightmarish creatures await.
It's not a STALKER game in itself, although it is also based off the book that STALKER was founded on, and it shares many themes and elements as a result. It is a very impressive homage to the series, though - hazardous anomalies, freakishly terrifying enemies, strong survival elements and a deep emphasis on plot are all present and seem to do their source of inspiration justice. What's more, one of the most common complaints about the STALKER games was GSC's insistence on using the ugly and buggy X-Ray engine; OWL on the other hand is currently using the CryEngine 2 (and planning to upgrade to CryEngine 3 before release), and it looks absolutely spectacular. Of course, the game still looks dank and dingy and depressing to fit the setting, but it looks so good while doing it.
CryZone: Sector 23 in its current state of development is a CryEngine 2 mod that requires Crysis to run, but in the last few days OWL have announced that when the game is released on CryEngine 3 it will be a standalone, free-to-play title. The release date is still “TBD” according to the project's ModDB page, but the team states that development is “80% done”, so it's possible we might see a release before the end of the year. Needless to say, with the promise of never-before-seen features, a game map of over 20 square kilometers (including a true-to-life replica of Pripyat) and a much more seamless gameplay experience, we're excited. And with the remnants of GSC's development team announcing that they're working on Survarium, their own post-apocalyptic MMO shooter, it seems like we can look forward to the promise of Bloodsuckers feasting on our cranial matter for a while yet.
For more information, head on over to CryZone: Sector 23's project page on ModDB.
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