FANDOM


This week Zero Punctuation goes in the zone to nuke S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky.

Transcript Edit

I don't think I would do very well in a real-world combat scenario. I hate being shouted at, and I can't run very fast while wearing a backpack the size of a cow. Before I would willingly enter a gun-fight, the enemy are going to have to strap big, glowing, red arrows to their heads and promise to stand next to windows loudly vocalizing every thought that crosses their minds. And by the time my comrades has persuaded them to do that I'll have remembered that I'm a massive coward and legged it. Reality is a cruel and unintuitive place with frustrating gameplay mechanics, which is why it's so odd that games try so hard to resemble it.

With that in mind, here is Stalker: Clear Sky, or to give it its proper title Ess Tee Ay Ell Kay Ee Arr: Clear Sky. If you go into Ess Tee Ay Ell Kay Ee Arr: Clear Sky in the mind-set of, say, Half-Life 2 and run full-pelt into enemy strongholds gleefully spraying bullets, then your corpse will be strung up in their garden being used as a bird feeder before you can say “reload, Doctor Freeman!”

You know how in most FPSes you're some kind of hybrid of man and refrigerator who can take an entire munitions dump to the face, while the enemy all have armor made of whipped cream and skulls made of cake? Well it seems going into this game everyone got their character sheets mixed up. The player can't survive more than a measly handful of bullets ripping through their flesh, while the armored enemies can take so many rounds to the torso you'd think there'd be nothing left but a spinal column and the corn flakes they had for breakfast. They can spot you in pitch darkness even with your flash-light off, and they can shoot you from half-way to Neverland, because their guns have magic accuracy that evaporates the instant you get your hands on them. I had to press quick-save more often than the fire button and this was on medium difficulty. I dread to think what the hardest setting is like. They probably give you a water pistol and replace all the enemies with fire-breathing golden lions.

Ess Tee Ay Ell Kay Ee Arr: Clear Sky is set in the area surrounding alternative post-disaster Chernobyl where the power station apparently ran on fairy dust before the meltdown and released a cloud of magic instead of boring old radiation, which transformed people and animals into super-powered mutants, as opposed to corpses, and created localized space-time anomalies that can do impossible things. Like make Atari release a decent game for once.

The zone's now the number one hangout for dudes with anoraks and acoustic guitars, who are all voiced by the same heavily-accented man, and who occupy their time by either shooting at people in slightly different-coloured anoraks and stealing their baked bean stock-piles or showing each other the best routes to get to people in slightly different-coloured anoraks to shoot at.

The player character is just one of many of these types, but every faction wants him to do jobs for them because he has mastery of the zone's most effective temporal anomaly: the mystical quick-save key. Actually the various factions don't always seem to be totally clear on exactly how important you are. Especially early on in the game, missions sometimes have this alarming quality of solving themselves. There was this bit where my allies were yelling my ear off telling me to help defend some control point somewhere, because black anorak wearers were closing in and our occupying forces numbered one guy in a wheelchair and a sock puppet. But halfway there I was suddenly congratulated for successfully seeing the blighters off, and by the time I arrived the wheelchair man had already installed a bar and croquet lawn. It's good that they're not totally dependent, but my impression was that my attention was urgently required, and I was kind of in the middle of shaking down corpses for baked beans.

Don't think this means you can actually rely on your allies, though, because it seems like their IQ drops 50 points when you can actually see them. Performance anxiety, perhaps. Come to think of it, there are a lot of things you can't rely on. The player uses some of the guns to store his chewing gum, so they jam with incredibly poor timing. Your character interprets “crouching” as ducking his head slightly, so it's very hard to effectively get behind low cower. Lying prone only drops your eye level another inch or so, so your character is either extremely fat or uncomfortably well endowed. Probably the first one, judging by how often he had to stop for a breather and a sausage roll while running cross country. And of course there's no way of knowing that you're blundering into a high-radiation zone until you've already been sterilized and grown an extra face.

But having now whinged myself inside out I have to say that I find Ess Tee Ay Ell Kay Ee Arr weirdly compelling. This is probably pretty close to how I personally would do in a real-life post-apocalypse scenario. That is, embarrassingly badly. Sure it's hard, but it hurts us because it loves us! We've all been made complacent by tutorial levels and health regeneration. It's up to games like Ess Tee Ay Ell Kay Ee Arr to remind you that you're going to be just as useless after the downfall of society as you are now, nerd. Plus running around forests at night with a flashlight on makes me feel like I'm in The Blair Witch Project. So it's quite an immersive game once you adjust for the steep difficulty curve. It's just a shame it's also got more bugs than a crack-whore with the sniffles.

The mystical quick-save key is a dark and mischievous power that can change the very fabric of reality. I was ambushed by a bunch of jerks on my way somewhere, killed one or two, hid behind a rock, and quick-saved. But then three of them all threw grenades and I ended up with a cloud of shrapnel instead of a face. After I quick-loaded, though, they suddenly didn't seem to care. I was able to walk up and affably chat to them about how their day was going. One of them even offered to guide me through the forest, but halfway through he ran off yelling: “That's him! Take him down!” I couldn't see anyone else around, but it seems he was talking to my processor, because at that point the game crashed. They'll probably patch that at some stage, but they won't get any points for it in my book. You couldn't get away with releasing a buggy game in the cartridge and cassette days – you'd get sentenced to a trampling under the company brontosaurus. But I'll tell you the worst part ab-worst part-the worst part ab-worst part ab-worst part ab-worst part ab-worst part- (Windows shutdown dialogue box)

"This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down.

Angry policemen are en route and resistance will only make them angrier."

(TV test card) (static) and whistled for a baboon!

AddendaEdit

Can see clearly now the rain is gone: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

I imported Silent Hill Homecoming to review next week WHOOPS LOOKS LIKE YOU LOSE MICHAEL ATKINSON

What you call formulaic I call reliability

(outro music also starts stuttering and triggers a Windows crash dialog box)

"This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down.

If problems persist, sing gentle lullabies and lovingly stroke its hair."

ScreenshotsEdit

Clear Sky 1

Before I would willingly enter a gun-fight, the enemy are going to have to strap big, glowing, red arrows to their heads

Clear Sky 2

Released a cloud of magic instead of boring old radiation

Clear Sky 3

I was able to walk up and affably chat to them about how their day was going

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.