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S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky re-review

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

Platform: PC Exclusive
Publisher: Deep Silver
UK Price (as reviewed): £17.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $32.99 (inc. Tax)

Maybe the stress of Christmas shopping is finally getting to us, but something about this article seems awful familiar. I swear I’ve done this before, though last time it didn’t seem as easy.

And, of course, we have. This is the second time we’ve put our critical little hats on and sat down at the keyboard to play Clear Sky like a flange of barely trained circus monkeys.

Last time I tried though the whole time was fraught with issues and problems. When the game didn’t crash to the desktop then it was freezing regularly, performing badly or corrupting savegames. The storyline, which is dense and sporadically told at the best of times, was less understandable than the talk of a man who’s caught his tongue in a toaster.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky re-review

So, it was an awful game then, right? Well, it wasn’t that simple actually and even though the game was giving us enough headaches and heartbreaks to fill an entire highschool we could still see that the game underneath was pretty good. Like the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl Clear Sky may have been difficult to understand and decidedly flawed in some regards, but there was a gem of a game under all that muck.

Which is why we’re now revisiting Clear Sky to see if the game has been patched into brilliance, or if it still languishes at the bottom of our scoring system like a discarded banana peel. Last time we looked at Clear Sky it was practically unplayable even when we’d patched it up, but now we’re four months down the line things might be a little different.

Mercifully, the developers haven’t stopped supporting the game in the last few months and the version number for Clear Sky has steadily risen. The first time we played Clear Sky it was on v1.3, but now it’s reached v1.5.07 The patching process has been streamlined too and instead of adding one patch on top of another you just need one 50MB file.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky re-review

So, if you’ve been waiting for a more stable and reliable version of the game to appear before you sit down to really play it then all you need to do is head to the official site and download the latest patch. Easy.

Even better, if you kept your savegames from any version of the game above v1.3 then those saves should still be compatible with the latest version. We know we weren’t the only ones who were somewhat irked to find that any savegames from v1.0 were rendered useless as soon as you patched up to v1.3. It’s yet another reason why the original Clear Sky review took so long.

The new patch also tackles most of the critical errors and crashes head on, fixing blue-screens and tweaking parts of the game that you could occasionally break, such as doors that would randomly refuse to open or guides that would refuse to take you anywhere. It also adds in new multiplayer maps and patches over a few connection issues. All good news.

It’s worth bearing in mind though that it really never should have been allowed to get to this point. The game should have just worked. A few crashes and issues can be overlooked, but Clear Sky was just plain broken. Let’s see if it’s been fixed.