|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: GSC Game World||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Viva Media||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 2, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (32 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The game also features the addition of scripted events, something that wasn't really in the previous two titles. While the change makes for a more cinematic experience when uncovering the main plot, it doesn't really take away from the sheer unpredictability of events that can still occur, as there are plenty. So, Call of Pripyat attempts to offer both types of storytelling mechanics and does so fairly well. In a good move, GSC also included a free play mode that allows players to explore the Zone even after they've finished the game, providing a more open-world experience and removing the semi-linear style of gameplay that was featured in the end of the first two games.
Aside from the single-player, Call of Pripyat does feature a multiplayer mode. However, very much like Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky, the multiplayer feels very rushed and tacked on. The addition of GameSpy provides features such as statistic tracking, which is a nice touch, but it doesn't make up for the lack of polish and direction. The multiplayer also features the basic FPS gametypes most gamers have seen before, which seems like a disconnect given how the series' single-player gameplay isn't simply about two sides killing each other. Why Call of Pripyat features no co-op gameplay at all is also a decent question, as running about the Zone with friends, scavenging abandoned buildings, and raiding mercenary strongholds together would be a fun experience. Essentially, if you are looking for a new FPS multiplayer game to play, Call of Pripyat is not what you're looking for.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest disadvantages that Call of Pripyat has is its placement in the series. Being the third installment in a series which finds its strength in the lore, gameplay, and immersion, is a difficult place to be. Veterans of the series have already seen and experienced a lot of what the Zone has to offer in its current form, causing them to see Call of Pripyat through "been there done that" glasses. Of course, newcomers to the series will be lost immediately, as the game makes the assumption you know the basics about the Zone already. There is an obvious attempt to deliver an experience that is unlike those of the first two games, but with a less interesting plot than in Shadow of Chernobyl and less action than in Clear Sky, it is difficult to say that Call of Pripyat is successful in delivering said new experience.
Call of Pripyat is a decent conclusion to an extremely underrated series of FPS games. Despite its aging engine, inconsistent AI, and "more of the same" experience, the game is a solid improvement on the first two titles, especially in the technical performance department. By including what fans loved about the first two titles, while simultaneously removing the features that were disliked, GSC managed to deliver something that veterans will appreciate greatly. And, with the help of the already solid modding community, Call of Pripyat has a great deal of gameplay potential yet to be realized.
While it is almost definitely a must-buy for fans of the series, the engaging and dark atmosphere we've seen before seems less interesting and less enthralling the third time through. However, newcomers will probably find Call of Pripyat to be a less frustrating and more stable experience, while seeing the Zone's amazing environments with fresh eyes.
CCC Freelance Writer