After playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R. COP, SOC, Clear Skies and Lost Alpha, there is a slight degree of regret over being able to drive through the Zone versus run everywhere. And going through the Zone on foot is a major pain!
In the prior versions careful and close attention had to be paid to the load being carried. Finding and creating stashes were essential to the wellbeing of your character. The amount carried was a balance of weapon/ammo vs med/food. Each enemy encounter overshadowed by the possibility of the battle not going your way due to limited supplies. Often forced to break off enemy engagements to resupply and heal up before returning to the battlefield. With each successive attempt tactics were revised and honed. Often on both sides. Nothing affords more realism and daunting challenge than showing up for todays battle with a yesterday's battle plan.
With what was gleaned from earlier versions, I became a better FPS player, regardless of the game being played. The skills and tactics learned in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. carried over to other games and increased the enjoyment factor. In Spawn/Kill/Die games a very high degree of satisfaction is realised when you're playing aggressively but dieing far less often.
With the addition of vehicles in Lost Alpha, running is no longer a factor. Even though acquiring enough petrol to complete the mission and make it to a Trader is a minor concern in the early stages. The possibility of losing all gear and vehicle due to anomaly is mitigated through 'Save Game' tactics to the point where all you lose is advancement since the last 'Save'.
Once the first half dozen Lost Alpha missions have been completed, concerns over load outs is limited to the choice of weapon and ammunition to use during the current encounter.
Vehicle of choice is the UAZ Jeep as it seems more stable, is further off the ground (great for spotting artifacts afterdark) and is a convertible. If Chernobyl happened at Three Mile Island, it'd be a Willy's. (Note to Devs: In future versions, having a few bicycles of various types (mountain, street, racing, tricycle) laying around would be nice.) Gear currently being carried includes: 15 suits (basic to SEVA), 45 upgraded fighting weapons, 256 unmodded weapons for trading, 20,000+ rounds of ammo in varying calibers and 176 things that go BOOM!'. Enough food to put a smile on a survivalists face, enough vodka to make any Russian my BFF and enough beer to make me welcomed at the neighbors next Bar-B-Que and they don't love me as much as they used to, but that's a story for another day. Also carrying 30+ cans of petrol, and more than a dozen (25kg) barrels of gas. Total payload weight exceeds 2,000kg and though reluctant to do so, will point out the UAZ's payload is about 815kg.
Now one or two of you might wrongly assume me to be whining about this. I'm not. I'm a Loot'Ho and suspect the reason being re-emergence of a recessive 'pack-rat' gene which for me is not a problem. However, being able to carry unlimited gear distracts from the game play. Having more realistic vehicle weight parameters would be welcomed as it would reintroduce the tactical difficulty. Figure this to be a facet of the game the Devs hadn't gotten to before the leak.
Blowouts are now a non-event. In Master mode, I've only encountered one blowout where safe locations were displayed on the map and not arriving at one in time was indicated as perilous. Don't remember ever seeing the same in Stalker or Veteran modes. Blowouts were once a leveling event where differences between the player and NPC regardless of faction were set aside, all sharing available protection and parting amicably. Now it's 'nap time'.
Trying to form a summary and hitting a wall so that'll be covered later.
Will close for now with this:
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R.(Lost Alpha) is a great game! Figuring out its intricacies is as challenging and engaging set of problems as can be found the FPS world. This is my fourth time playing it to through from start and I fully expect the challenge will remain almost as strong when it's played through for the seventh or eighth time.