Whole squads will attack me at once. It's the kind of merciless, deadly play that leads to two things: cheap, sneaky tactics (I'm quite the master of sniping stalkers from various positions), and reload screens. Unfortunately, when I load back into the Zone, often my mission objectives have changed. More often than not, the various enemy and friendly squads nearby have disappeared or relocated. Unless I quick save in the middle of a firefight, it is entirely possible that a battle I heard across the swamps no longer exists. This happened every time I quick-loaded a game, or loaded an older save. The game is completely incapable of recording what was taking place in the Zone at the save game point. There might as well not be a quicksave (or regular save) option. Checkpoints would be just as helpful for recording ingame activity and minute-to-minute occurrences.This makes the punishment for death more than just a tax on my time. There's nothing more galling than getting this close to successfully helping my squad take a key point, on orders, only to reload and have that objective disappear. In Clear Sky, your superiors will only pay you in items and money if you attack designated targets on the map. It's pointless to attack enemy emplacements at random. I won't get paid for my troubles, and I'll probably die.
It's incredibly frustrating to realize that I can't actually treat these stalkers as enemies, or take objectives as I please. It's even more frustrating to realize that unless I'm extremely careful, I'll lose all of my progress (or money, or my squad) thanks to a simple glitch.Clear Sky is a broken game, like its predecessor. It also never fully commits to its tower defense pretensions, which is a shame. The RPG mechanics of the Stalker games (where your guns are your stats), the unforgiving and frightening Zone, and the basics of tower defense make for surprisingly entertaining play when combined. It's unclear whether GSC Gameworld will reintroduce the faction warfare mechanic to the recently announced Stalker sequel. These elements were completely excised for Pripyat, the series' third outing, and it was the better Stalker game (if not a better tower defense game) for it. I sincerely hope someone pursues this line of design. The mix of RPG, open-world shooter, and tower defense is one that doesn't really exist right now, outside of Clear Sky.
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