In the second part of GSC Game World's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl developer diary, the team walks you through the origins of the game's story, and how it relates to the real-life events detailed in last week's first instalment. Look also to Eurogamer TV for an accompanying trailer, with a handful of new screenshots to be found elsewhere on the site.
The story of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a hypothesis based on real events that took place in the 1980s. During this time, a huge antenna was built in Chernobyl to emit radio waves some experts believed were psychoactive. Some of our photos taken during the trip to Chernobyl captured the structure of the antenna far away on the horizon. According to several unsubstantiated rumours, the emission was directed into Western Europe - and was indeed a covert military experiment to determine the psychotropic impact on the human psyche.
These rumours have been loosely proven and are the kind of experiments that the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. storyline is built around. We touch upon fact, fiction and conspiracy theory, where the lines are blurred, presenting a credible less salubrious undercurrent. It is the story of a post-apocalyptic world littered with its own tragedies, heroes and laws - a 'what if' scenario loosely rooted in reality. More poignantly it represents a disturbing window into a future that could still grace this earth.
In 2006, a second explosion occurs at Chernobyl, followed by strange occurrences - flashes of bright light, raucous thunder, lighting, earthquakes - all coming from the hub of the exclusion zone. While common belief is 'the reactor has exploded again,' nobody knows for sure. Scientists who go in to research the occurrences disappear without trace, as do their followers. Clearly, the exclusion zone becomes a dangerous place. Witnesses report spots of 'invisible' deadly energy consuming the area. Ultimately, the government, given little alternative, cordons off the area and seal it from intrusion until a solution is found. As time passes, the Zone continues to be active and even grows by several kilometers in size.
In 2008 eerie mutant creatures appear at the borders of the Zone, with the army, driven by fear, forcing their retreat through firepower. At the same time, curiosity among civilians in the area grows as they become more intrigued by the occurrences, myths and rumour that pervade within the Zone. Some of the more courageous decide to venture into the Zone, sneaking through the army cordons. Many die, but those who manage to return bring back not only unbelievable stories, but also 'artifacts' (bearings of the Zone - objects which have absorbed its anomalous energy), which instantly command a high price from curious scientists, corporations and the like.
Since then, more and more have tried their luck in the Zone. Those who go into the Zone in search of artifacts and fortune soon pick up the moniker of 'stalkers'.
The game begins in 2012 as you, the player, are found comatose in the Zone after a brutal crash. You appear to be one of the stalkers, but have lost all memory of your past.
You wind up on the desk of a zone dealer. In an effort to repay the dealer (of arms and valuable artifacts) who helps you recover, you will need to complete several missions, taking your first steps into the Zone.
Good luck to you, young stalker, and beware!