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S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky v.1.5.04 (PC)

This game combines elements of survival horror (ammo scavenging, frightening atmosphere with powerful monsters), first-person shooters ("twitch-based" aiming, i.e. no leveling system or "skillsets"), and RPGs (inventory management, quests, character interaction, armors and defense stats). The most significant gameplay addition since Shadow of Chernobyl is the faction wars system. Different factions will struggle for territory, attacking to gain territory and then defending to keep it, while others then try to retake it. The player will be able to join and help factions in their battles.

The stronger a faction becomes, the better equipment the traders can provide and their soldiers can use. The player character is a mercenary and may do missions for any faction, or remain completely neutral, without consequence. Each of the main factions provide services, most importantly access to a trader and an engineer. Some factions, such as the military, cannot be joined. While Scar is always aligned with Clear Sky, and his ultimate goal is to defeat the Strelok Faction, he can fight against or ally with the four other factions in the Zone (Loners, Duty, Freedom and Bandits).

The Swamp-dwelling Renegade or the Military factions cannot be joined. Other gameplay advancements since the first game include a deepened weapon customization system with the ability to repair damaged gear. Anomalies are harder to notice and now contain the artifacts in the game, which require a detector to locate. NPCs are given the ability to use hand grenades, take cover dynamically and use "blind-fire" techniques. Light machine guns have been introduced. There are NPC guides in the zone that will provide fast-travel for a fee.

Clear Sky is a prequel to the events in Shadow of Chernobyl. The player assumes the role of Scar, a veteran Stalker mercenary who was injured by an energy emission while guiding a group of scientists through the Zone. Scar is rescued by Clear Sky, a secret, independent Zone faction dedicated to researching and understanding the Zone in order for humanity to better understand what kind of phenomena it is facing. After attempting to help a patrol at an outpost, a second emission occurs, where Scar survives.

The leader of Clear Sky, Lebedev, informs Scar that the Zone is being disrupted by a dramatic increase in energy emissions, emanating from the Chernobyl power plant in the center of the Zone. Besides endangering all the Stalkers in the Zone, the emissions are also interacting with Scar's body in a unique way that will eventually kill him if they continue. Lebedev theorizes the energy emissions are a sort of "immune response" by the Zone itself in response to human activity. If it continues, the zone could become highly unstable and run out of control.

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