PC Gamer
Stalker Call of Pripyat
A Ukranian news site is reporting that the developers of Stalker and Stalker 2, GSC have shut down their studio. An "informed source" told them that founder and CEO, Sergei Grigorovich made the announcement at a staff meeting, saying that the company was closing because of unspecified "personal reasons." RPS spotted a tweet from the company denying that GSC has been closed, but that has since been deleted. If true, it would be a sudden and very sad turn of events. We'll know what's happening for certain when GSC make official comment.
PC Gamer

Every weekend begins with a dream: to sit at home, in front of our PCs, and play games until we fall asleep. The problem? There are too many games to choose from. As a result, we spend most of Friday thinking about what we're going to play and planning in advance. Maybe you have this problem too, maybe you're looking for suggestions for what you could try, and maybe you have suggestions for us. Read on for the PC Gamer team's ideas for what to play this weekend.


Stalker: Call of Pripyat - Craig
Call of Pripyat Complete was just released, so now's the perfect time to return to the irradiated hell hole surrounding Chernobyl. The mod alters the weather, graphics and sound, AI and fixes a few missing elements, but the quests and characters remain unchanged. It's a prettier apocalypse.



The Dreamcast Collection, Dragon Age 2 - Tim
I’m laptop bound, so I’ve got to play stuff that won’t break its horrendous on-board graphics. I’ve started playing the Dreamcast Collection on Steam. The Dreamcast is the first console I owned, and the only reason I bought it was because Crazy Taxi hypnotised my in an arcade during a weekend break in Blackpool. The conversions are pretty ropey, and they’re massively dated, but that’s just fine. Because Space Channel 5 Part 2 has Michael Jackson as an end boss. Which is cool. When I get back on Sunday, though, I’m slumping into a chair and mainlining Dragon Age 2 until I fall asleep in a pool of dribble. Read our review if you're thinking of doing the same.



Bulletstorm - Tom
If anyone was put off this game at first, like me, I really recommend soldiering on at least until you get the cannonball thingy. It's not a great weapon, but that's the point at which all the other weapons, upgrades and environmental hazards really started to click for me. You have enough options that the fights have a rhythm to them, where you're doing a different combination of violent crimes to each guy.

I'm going back to it this weekend to finish it off - I'm fighting a big thing, so presumably I'm near the end. I've become a lot more tolerant of the dismal plot since I confirmed my suspicion that Trishka is played by Jennifer Hale, the female Shepard voice from Mass Effect. Now, if I pointedly look in the other direction, I can imagine a very Renegade Shepard is one of the main characters.




Princess Maker 2 - Graham
I'll probably spend some time playing Crazy Taxi, and if a copy of Dragon Age 2 should materialise, I'll try that. But most of my weekend will be spent raising my daughter, Mount-Everest Acebomb, and endeavouring to steer her towards a path of virtue and adventure. It's a stat-heavy game almost entirely governed by menus, but there's so many options available that you can have personal, fascinating experiences as a freakishly controlling and overbearing father. Apparently there's 76 endings. So far my own daughter is mostly showing an aptitude for cooking and cleaning, and destined to become a housewife, but I'll try to change that this weekend before her 18th birthday.

What are you all planning on playing this weekend? Let us know in the comments.
PC Gamer

A brave Russian mod team has challenged themselves to port the whole of GSC's survival horror, STALKER, into Crysis' more advanced engine. The project's called Cryzone - Sector 23, and is far along enough for the team to have released a video of the mod in action. You'll find the video embedded below.

The mod is the work of a team called World of Stalker. It's still a work in progress, but famous elements from the STALKER series are already in there, including the bleak landscapes, anomalies, and groups of terse Russian men sitting around campfires.

The video shows off some of the destructability and improved physics that comes with the upgrade to Cryengine 2. The mod plans to add some new features to the game, including a Far Cry 2 style healing system, in which your character must fix wounds by injecting themselves, or removing bullets from wounds. For more information on the mod, check out the Sector 23 page on the AP forums. It's a staggering undertaking, but judging from the video below, the results could be pretty spectacular.

PC Gamer

As a special New Year's Eve present, STALKER developers CDC have decided to release the full Software Development Kit for the X-ray 1.6 engine, the force behind the most recent STALKER game, Call of Pripyat. This is the first time fans have had access to fully featured mod tools for the latest STALKER game, and the new tools will give players the power to create whole single player and multiplayer missions. Check out the official STALKER site to get your hands on the new tools.
PC Gamer

This week in the US Direct2Drive is offering sales on some of Atari's best games, including 75% off Kings Bounty and the superb Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. Meanwhile today's Games for Windows Marketplace deal is selling STALKER for 99 cents. Read on for details.

Here's a round up of the Atari deals that will be happening on Direct to Drive in the US this week.


Now - Star Trek Online, 50% off, $9.95
Later today - Test Drive Unlimited, 50% off, $9.95
Wednesday - Haunted House, 75% off, $4.95
Thursday - King's Bounty, 75% off, $7.50
Friday - The Chronicles of Riddick Assault on Dark Athena, 75% off, $9,95

 
Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena comes bundled with the superior Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Both offer plenty of well crafted action for budget price. The magical turn based kingdom builder, King's Bounty, is both a remake of the ancient predecessor to the classic Heroes of Might and Magic games, and a spiritual successor at the same time, spicing up the well worn old formula with a crazy sense of humour and a proper story.

On Games for Windows Marketplace the original STALKER: Shadow of Chenobryl is on sale for today only at the ridiculous price of 99 cents / 75p. Moody survival horror doesn't get much better than STALKER's post apocalyptic landscapes, and where the game once had a reputation for being one of the buggiest games around, a wealth of patches and an incredible modding scene have transformed it into a classic. At 99 cents, it's probably worth a look.

PC Gamer

GSC have launched a competition asking entrants to design their own mission for STALKER 2. The best entries will be forwarded to the game's lead developers, and might even make it into the full game as a playable mission.

The competition is being run from the STALKER Facebook page, and asks participants to send in a description of the mission in a standard font, in less than half a page of A4. Here's what they're after, and what you stand to win:

Each entry must contain:

Quest name and description;
Mission details (what happened, what needs to be done);

"Contest benefits: The names of the contest winners will be included in the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-2 credits. The best ideas from the contest may be implemented in the new S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game. This said, the developers retain the right to change the quest looks or implementation, while preserving the key author's idea."

There's a short list of rules on the Facebook page, asking players not to submit entries that "have nothing to do with the subject matter" and are "obviously impossible to implement", which quickly put pay to my "radioactive power plant that hides secret T-Rex" idea. In bonus bizzaro news, it looks as though GSC want to expand beyond their recently teased TV show, and break into fashion, with this clothing line. Is post apocalyptic chic the next big thing?

PC Gamer

The grim survival horror series, STALKER is getting its very own TV series. It's set in the Zone, and will feature many of the things that made STALKER great, like dark radioactive tunnels, deadly anomolies, and lots of angry men shouting at each other in Russian. You'll find the trailer embedded below.

The game was based on an Andrei Tarkovsky film, in turn based on an Arkady Strugatsky novel called Roadside Picnic, which makes this a TV show of a game of a film of a book. There aren't many mediums left for STALKER to conquer, but an opera set in the Zone seems like an obvious next step. For more information and a few images from the set, the STALKER teaser site is live. Meanwhile, here's the trailer.



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