S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Complete 2009
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Complete 2009 is a super-mod, combining a ton of existing mods, ironing out incompatibilities along the way - with the goal of bringing STALKER "up-to-date".
This mod has been created with a thought of bringing the beautiful and immersive game of STALKER from the last generation era, when it was created to an up-to-date experience you'd expect from games you play in 2009.
These are meant to technically and artistically enhance the game without compromising the original feel and atmosphere developers meant you to see. You'll notice every single detail has been retouched and has a polished feel to it.
It's a significant set of graphical upgrades paired with some bug fixes and only minor retouching of the core gameplay. It's billed as "vanilla 2.0", an attempt at making a better "vanilla" STALKER experience rather than trying to alter the game.
I never played more than an hour of plain-jane STALKER, so I can't speak to gameplay changes. But the graphical changes are immediately smack-you-in-the-face obvious. It's stunning. Whereas looking at old STALKER made me think of, well, a 2007 eastern European PC title, the texture and shader upgrades in STALKER Complete 2009 made the place instantly come alive.
The mod claims these video card requirements:
Minimum: 8800GT 512MB or equivalent.
Recommended: GTX 260/275/280 1GB or equivalent.
I think they're shooting high, as my GTX 260 runs everything cranked fully perfectly smooth (~60fps). At least in the gameplay area from the intro through the first mission.
Those on lesser hardware can easily remove the shaders this mod adds and install Float32 instead, and still enjoy most of the visual upgrades (the totally redone textures, etc)
A couple of things I want to get down for reference for anyone that wants to take a crack at playing STALKER with STALKER Complete:
* With fully dynamic lighting on, by default, shadows on the edges of the screen will behave badly - especially at widescreen resolutions. To fix this, in your "user.ltx" file, make the following changes:
r2_sun_near 12. (change to 25.)
r2_sun_near_border settings 0.66 (change to 1.0)
(You can also perform this using the in-game console, hit tilde and type in "r2_sun_near 25.", for example. And just so you know, a number like "12." means "12.0" and you can type "12.0" for the same result. STALKER just stores "x.0" numbers as "x." for some reason)
* Pay attention to the mod's installation instructions, there's a change in the "user.ltx" and "fsgame.ltx" files you'll want/need to make. Just a couple of quick text edits.
* If you have the Steam version of STALKER, you will have a "user.ltx" file in your STALKER steamapps' "_appdata_" folder that does absolutely nothing. Find the other one. In XP, it's at "C:/Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\stalker-shoc\user.ltx". In Vista/Win7, just use the search for "stalker-shoc" and you'll find it.
* On my machine, in Vista 64, STALKER would crash with this mod. It also crashed with a few individual mods, so I can't say for sure what the problem is (yes, I did do the "3GB enabler" EXE patch in Vista). On XP on the same machine, it's running beautifully.