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GSC releases 2004 build of STALKER

A glimpse of what might have been.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

In an unprecedented move, Ukrainian developer GSC Game World has released a build of its infamously troubled PC game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shaodw of Chernobyl that predates the final release by two and a half years, Shacknews reports.

The version of the game - 'xrCore' build 1935, dated October 18th 2004 - is available from several links in a thread on GSC's forums, or from FileShack.

Several levels that were cut from the final game, including Dead City, Swamp and Generators, are available to play in the build. It's described as "playable", although GSC says emphatically that it doesn't guarantee stability or fitness, and won't provide technical support for it.

The build offers a window into one of the more famous recent examples of development hell. The ridiculously ambitious post-apocalyptic first-person adventure was announced in 2001 and originally pencilled in for a 2003 released date.

After much talk of feature creep, instability and vapourware, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. finally emerged in 2007 in reduced form. But despite missing several of its original zones and features and still lacking some technical polish, it couldn't help but impress. It received a sequel-cum-expansion, Clear Sky, last year.

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