Part I – Roadside Picnic of Irradiated Boar Meat
I went to Kyiv in January 2012 for the sole purpose of visiting Chernobyl. It cost a lot of money to get a Visa, flights and accommodation, so I was devastated on arrival to find the government had temporarily closed the area to tourism. I’ve heard that the experience of playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is precisely the same as being there, so with that in mind I’ve got my gasmask and some coffee that is good from plutonium.
I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
[The above is a true story, so considering that, it’s bizarre that I have not yet played any of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. This is my first experience with Shadow of Chernobyl.
I’m playing it with the STALKER Complete 2009 mod after community recommendations, and the FOV Switcher after a headache kicked in.]
I don’t remember the trip into Chernobyl, but when I come-to there is some Ukrainian arsehole talking down to me. His English is impeccable, despite the thick accent, something I never really came across in Kyiv. By the way he talks I’m guessing he runs this place, so I swallow my distaste for the man and decide to do what he tells me – at least until I learn the ropes and make some contacts.
He tells me how to use this rugged-looking post-Soviet, rip-off iPad – or їҎDД – and gives me a job to find another Stalker. His name is Nimble, but I’ve gotta talk to someone named Wolf to have any hope of finding him.
As I leave the bunker I’m given my first weapon – a pair of binoculars? This must be some peculiarly Ukrainian humour.
Everyone else in the town seems to have a pistol, a hoodie and a bandana over half their face. According to the first guy I meet, this village is a Kindergarten, but I don’t see any kids.
I start poking around in the dilapidated shacks looking for some gear, and after climbing out of an empty basement someone unloads an AK47 right near me. I can’t see who or where, but I book it out of there.
Wolf is standing by the fire, listening to Roma Baldy (I feel your pain, comrade) play the guitar. He tells me where to find Nimble and gives me a gun. I pull it out to check it and he points his AK at my face. Alright, alright, I’ll put it away. Man, I don’t get these Ukrainians at all.
I have to admit I wasn’t expecting it to be so green here. The vegetation looks lush and alive. Sure, this isn’t the centre of Chernobyl or anything, but I guess I expected everything to be dead still.
I see an undulating blur ahead of me as I run towards Wolf’s men. I rub my eyes, but it’s still there. I take a bolt from my pocket and throw it. The blur responds with a series of blasts.
What the fuck have I gotten myself into?
I meet up with Wolf’s men and we storm the bandit’s encampment. It’s well-suited for defense, so we take a few hits, but they all die soon enough. I get the flash drive from Nimble and another job – this is a barter economy after all, and the only thing most people have to barter with is their time and their lives.
On the way back to the Trader I see a pack of wild boars around another of those anomalous blurs. A Hind flies above the scene and I don’t know if they are friend, foe, or something else. One of the boars sees me and charges. I hoof it away; I don’t want to waste ammo when the meat is probably too tainted to eat.
The heavens open up and irradiated rain starts falling as I reach the trader’s bunker. The man might be an arsehole, but he at least his hovel is dry.
He’s happy to get the flash drive and gives me a fairly decent payment. Now that he knows – or at least thinks – I’m trustworthy he tells me a little about Strelok, the bastard I was apparently on my way to kill before this latest bout of amnesia. He’s got some sort of access to unsullied areas of the Zone and the Trader is interested in all of the artifacts this could gain us access to.
I still don’t know why I wanted to kill Strelok, so I agree to go along with the Trader’s plan; his resources and connections should be useful, even if his motives don’t match my own.
But what the fuck are my motives? Is it professional jealousy that sent me on this murder mission, simple greed, or something else?
The Trader has a number of other jobs – I get the details of them all now loaded up into my їҎDД ’cause I don’t know what direction I might end up going in and what jobs I might find myself near – and head out of the bunker. The storm has passed, so there’s no reason to stay.
Kill the Sales Representative
This Soviet Shithead must be the dumbest arsehole in the Zone. He’s trading shit products using the Trader’s good name and the Trader wants him dead… So where do I find him? Sleeping about fifty metres from the Trader’s bunker. I put a bullet in his head and go back for my payment for a job well done.
Clear out the Boar Encampment
Looking at my їҎDД I realise this is actually a different rasher of Boars (Yes, this is the correct collective noun for any porcine species) to the one I sprinted head-long into.
They are massive, monstrous-looking examples of the species, but they still fall to my double-barrelled shotgun like anything else. The meat is dirty, so I don’t bother gutting them, but I find a dead stalker with an artifact in his pocket. I’ll take that, comrade.
I have some money, some food, ammo and anti-radiation drugs, and my next jobs are all away from the safety of this Loner encampment. It is a dangerous world out there, but I am a dangerous Stalker.