Déjà vu, AgainClear Sky
is a prequel to the first game, one with wholly new characters, missions, areas and plot. While the first game cast you as an amnesiac who was out for answers the second game puts you in the shoes of Scar, a loner who finds himself in the middle of a Zone clan war.
Scar has problems of his own though after being exposed to one of the Zone’s strange energy emissions. The Zone, which surrounds the wrecked Ukrainian city of Prypiat and which defies every law of science known to man, has apparently chosen you. The emissions may have killed everyone else they touched, but Scar has been left alive.
Not just alive in fact, but empowered
. Like the baddie from The World is Not Enough
, Scar has been made stronger, faster and hardier by the usually lethal exposure – but at a cost. Each emission now destroys more of Scar’s nervous system, bringing him closer to death while also making him more of a superman.
Scar only knows any of this though because he’s been taken in by a reclusive and previously unknown research group that operates in the Zone, called Clear Sky. The Zone is filled with dozens of different factions, each one staffed mainly by mercenaries and criminals who have fled normal society to hide in the quarantined Zone, but Clear Sky is unique among the other groups. Mostly non-violent, the group is dedicated only to understanding the anomalies within the Zone.
The same emission that bestowed this lethal blessing on Scar has caused all manner of trouble for Clear Sky though, exposing their previously hidden base and revealing them to the more merciless groups of bandits who make a living by selling artefacts to the outside world.
More threatening than anything though is the knowledge that more emissions are coming – that the entire Zone may be in danger. Did someone manage to get through to the centre of the Zone? The least you could do for your saviours would be to investigate a little.
Thus, the stage for the game is set and you’re thrust into the Zone with minimal instruction and a lot of confusion. If you didn’t play the first game then reading the manual is essential. You’ll have to monitor your radiation levels, collect various types of ammo and weapon upgrades and carry more than double your own body weight in bandages.
As a game then, Clear Sky
is an intimidating prospect, but it’s the challenge it represents that is actually one of the most appealing aspects of the game. Clear Sky
is, like Shadow of Chernobyl
, a grimly uncompromising world and you shouldn’t expect it to hold your hand as you play. You’re on your own in the Zone and even on the low difficulties you can expect to have problems getting anywhere at first.
Soon enough though things start to make a bit more sense and you find yourself getting into a decent rhythm with the game. Familiar areas from the first game start to reappear and you learn to slow down and keep track of your vital stats rather than just charging into battle like a rabid raccoon. Your eyes start to naturally flick to the bottom right hand corner of the screen every time you hear a gunshot, your fingers flying out to the quick bandage button instinctively.