As many of you who read here know, I’m a fan of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. FPS video game series.
I’ve played these games numerous times with and without modifications. I’ve even recently read the book on which the series was loosely based. Last night, though, I experienced something new regarding this game. I watched a movie based on the original game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl. It’s called S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Monolith’s Whisper. I watched it again today, actually.
Anyone who’s ever experienced the game knows that there is a certain atmosphere, an ambiance, that feels unique to the game. If you play it enough, you begin to absorb that feeling of menace and impending doom. If you play like I do with headphones on in a darkened room, the experience can be nearly totally immersive. You catch yourself dodging and ducking in your chair at your desk. Non-gamers will not understand what I’m talking about here, unfortunately.
Stalker Team Uruguay, the movie’s production company, has managed to capture that atmosphere quite accurately, in my opinion. While watching the movie, you will recognize where you are and what’s happening. Gamers will be familiar with some of the situations and characters, and especially the sound effects. Costuming and props are interestingly and relatively accurately depicted. I was actually pretty impressed with that.
This is not a $50M Spielberg film, folks. However, with the budget and equipment they had available, I think they did a fabulous job. I’m not sure where the movie was filmed, but some of the building ruins and forest scenes are going to look eerily familiar to players of the game. I like the trivia entry at imdb.com about the truck in the opening segment of the movie. It was not a working truck, yet the scene looked very realistic.
The story is about Alexey, a young Ukrainian man whose family was displaced by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Alexey travels from America back to the Ukraine after the mysterious 2006 events at the CNPP to search for his older brother who had previously returned to their childhood home. Alexey must pay mercenaries to transport him to the edge of the Exclusion Zone, where he is then advised to seek out a loner Stalker called “Wolf”, who will help him further.
After some close calls, Alexey manages to make contact with Wolf at the loner camp in the south Cordon area. Wolf then introduces Alexey to Seeker, a Freedom faction veteran. Seeker acts as a guide and teacher to Alexey as the make their way north through the Zone in search of Alexey’s brother. Alexey learns much and experiences much danger on his travels with Seeker. Eventually, he reaches the Wish Granter… or does he?
If you’re a fan of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., I think you’ll enjoy S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Monolith’s Whisper. You can watch it right on their website. If you like it as much as I did, consider buying a DVD or purchasing a download. At the very least, drop them a $ or two in the tip jar as a sign that you appreciated their efforts. You can even contact them via email. They will email you back. Gabriel Zang, one of the Stalker Team Uruguay members and the actor who plays Alexey in the movie, personally replied to my email earlier today.
Enjoy your gaming and this excellent movie!
Image credits: All of the above from miscellaneous game players’ screen shots of the actual game.