Year 2011. Five years passed since the Second Disaster, which eclipsed the events of April 1986. The Zone is shaken by frequent and powerful blowouts, which move anomaly fields, opening new routes to previously inaccessible locations. Stalker factions fight for the new territories and key points. A lot of stalkers die, but newbies keep on arriving. The action takes place one year prior to the events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, one year before Strelok’s most successful trip to the center of the Zone – the third one. We will learn about Strelok and his squad from another character’s vantage point.
The Zone is waiting for you ahead, new locations and unknown threats, spatial holes and monsters hiding in the fog, pitch-black nights and saving rays of a rising sun. Try to avoid anomalies and hide from blowouts, discover the Zone and collect artifacts, cure radioactive irradiation and fight for any stalker faction you like! Only then you will uncover the truth about Strelok and how he happened to get inside the death track and receive the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. tattoo on his arm.
Benchmark Results: If Far Cry 2 does wonders for lush foliage and real-time physics modeling, Stalker: Clear Sky is a title that ought to be synonymous with strikingly beautiful lighting effects. The prequel is built on the X-Ray 1.5 engine, and added support for DirectX 10; version 1.05.06 of the game boosted that to DirectX 10.1. We tested the ATI cards in DX10.1, since there’s no reason not to use it.
As for whether or not there’s a reason to use DirectX 10.1 at all, that’s up to you, and may depend on just how thick your wallet is feeling these days. DX10 is notorious for its performance penalty, and Stalker: Clear Sky stands out as a particularly bad example of a problem that never seems to have found a solution. ATI’s 4870X2 loses ground to the GTX 295 as we crank up the resolution and detail levels, although the Radeon 4890 actually improves its competitive standing vis-a-vis the GTX 275.