Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl is a first person shooter/action horror game set in a near future former U.S.S.R. radioactive area known as "The Zone". Released in 2007, Stalker is best known for gripping atmosphere, inspired action, and horrible bugs. Fortunately for PC gamers, there are plenty of polished and essential mods for Stalker that fix, change and add amazing new features to the core game experience. However, there are quite literally tons of mods to choose from, but many of them are not especially well thought out or tested. So before you break your game too badly, check out this handy guide to the top 5 best Stalker mods out today.
5 – Zone Reclamation Project
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl has a reputation for being unstable and filled with bugs, which is mostly true of the original released version. The Zone Reclamation Project started as a response to the game's instability, and is now considered to be an essential Stalker mod. With roots as an unofficial patch, the ZRP does not change or add much to Stalker's original gameplay, instead fixing and improving the more technical aspects of the game. However, there is an optional modification program that allows users to adjust the parameters of the game itself. Here are some of the optional tweaks available:
- No annoying head bobbing while running
- Improved trading UI
- Improved inventory UI
- Longer quest time limits
- Realistic gun names
- Improved AI awareness
- Repairs available at merchants
Thankfully, the ZRP is easy to use and relatively bug-free, providing a satisfying Stalker experience without any real changes to the core game. In fact, many of the following mods on this list include the ZRP in their list of credits, illustrating perfectly how the ZRP is really one of the essential Stalker mods.
4 – L.U.R.K.
Number 4 on the list of the top 5 Stalker mods goes to L.U.R.K, a more recently released compilation mod. L.U.R.K keeps the original game's atmosphere and adds numerous features to its gameplay. Most notable among L.U.R.K.'s features are its "smart terrains" that improve NPC and monster spawning and activity, alongside an overhauled weapon ballistics system and a much larger gun selection, make L.U.R.K's gunplay fantastic.
However, there are some issues with L.U.R.K. that may need to be ironed out. The revamped economy is good, but may be too intense for some players, as is the case with the revamped enemy AI. Getting shot when you cannot even see your enemies is never fun, but thankfully these moments are few and far between. Despite these minor gripes, L.U.R.K. is a very good mod compilation and is a worthy addition to any Stalker best mods list.
3 – Oblivion Lost
Probably the most popular Stalker mod out there, Oblivion Lost is a total game rebalance and adds an incredible amount of changes to the game. First and foremost, Oblivion Lost is much harder than vanilla Stalker, and that is evident in everything from the increased monster variety, difficulty and spawns, to the random "blowouts" of radiation emitting from the sky. Oblivion Lost isn't just about increased difficulty though, it also adds a number of fun new gameplay features, such as the ability to create "anomaly traps" for your enemies, or deploy a minigun for your own entertainment.
However, Oblivion Lost is not at all for players new to Stalker, or those who get frustrated easily. It is a very difficult mod intended for veterans of the Stalker universe, and even then it can be frustrating. Also, Oblivion Lost does not play nice with other mods, making it more of a love it or hate it affair. Still, for a delightfully new and challenging Stalker experience it is hard to go wrong with Oblivion Lost.
2 – The Stalker Mod Compilation
For Stalker fans who love the ZRP's game fixing technical improvements, but want just a little bit more, there are not too many options available. Luckily for them, the Stalker Mod Compilation hits that nice middle ground between a fixed original Stalker, and the intense overhauled Stalker of Oblivion Lost. In fact the Stalker Mod Compilation might be the best mod available for the regular casual PC gamer, as it is very customizable and incredibly easy to install. A list of optional features include:
- Improved sound effects
- Improved HUD
- A working and good repair system
- A weather overhaul
- Russian names for NPC's
- Ability to carry loose and explosive objects
The Stalker Mod Compilation is relatively bug free, and does not tax PC systems any more than the vanilla Stalker did. In many user's minds, the Stalker Mod Compilation is one of the best Stalker mods out today.
1 – Stalker Complete 2009
While Stalker Complete does not add psychic mutants, miniguns, ballistic revamps or radioactive skies, what it does add has to be seen to be believed.
Basically, Stalker was made by an Eastern European company in 2007, and it looks like it was made in Eastern Europe in 2007. Stalker Complete 2009 completely revamps the visual, audio, and technical structure of the game, making it look, feel and sound like it was made today by a company like Infinity Ward or Bethesda. The result is truly astonishing. Stalker Complete 2009 has a laundry list of features including:
- Reworking almost every texture in the game to be high res
- Adding depth of field
- Adding blur effects
- A unique and very realistic weather system (you can hear a thunderstorm gradually approach you)
- Enhanced AI behaviors (flanking, grenade tossing, cover fire)
- Ability to shoot out lights and drag bodies
- Repair and sleep mods among other minor fixes (includes ZRP's bug fixes)
One note of consequence though, Stalker Complete 2009 needs a very strong system to run at the highest settings, and it really only shines on the higher settings in the first place. Still, making Stalker look new and amazing is what makes Stalker Complete 2009 the best Stalker mod available today.