Mod of the Week: Misery 2.0, for STALKER: Call of Pripyat
For those of you who found the Exclusion Zone of STALKER: Call of Pripyat a bit too warm ‘n cuddly, take heart! Misery Mod 2.0 is here to kick you in the teeth, knock you to the ground, and fill your bleeding mouth with irradiated soil. Misery 2.0 features tons of gameplay adjustments and additions, new visuals and sounds, and a more harrowing and challenging experience for you to enjoy in the brief time before your brutal and lonely death. Get in here, Stalker!
Begin your short, miserable life by choosing one of three classes to inhabit before you are killed. You can pick from the Assaulter, the Recon, and the Sniper class, which give close-range, mid-range, and long-range combat options. Each class has its own little perks and drawbacks, and comes with a different set of starter gear.
I started as a sniper, figuring the best way to approach the new even-less-forgiving Zone was by peering at it from a safe distance through a scope. This worked great until the Zone was like, "Uh, we see you over there, and now we're going to run over to you in a big scary furry rush of teeth and radioactive blood!"
At least I heard those dog monsters before they killed me. After restarting, I was peering around again when a bloodsucker, one those invisible nightmares, crept up and slashed me to death before I even knew he was there. In vanilla mode, you can hear the labored breathing of the bloodsuckers. Not so in Misery. Snorks are still snorks, but when they attack you during a midnight thunderstorm, and you can only see them when lightning illuminates the countryside, they're somehow worse than snorks. Anyway, they killed me too.
So, combat with mutants generally lasts about as long as it took you to reach the word “generally” earlier in this sentence. Combat against other stalkers, initially, proved just as brutal, mainly because I kept winding up in firefights before I even knew there were other stalkers in my vicinity. This is because Misery removes the HUD radar, and with it, the little beep that would indicate there was another human nearby in the original game.
This makes sense: there’s nothing particularly realistic about a bunch of illegal scavengers and murderers walking around in the Exclusion Zone with tracking devices that lets everyone else know exactly where they are. Still, since the radar is no longer there, I keep forgetting it's no longer there. The absence of beeps still registers in my brain as an all-clear for other stalkers, and so I kept blundering into the path of bandits and other ne'er-do-wells who would fill me with bullets as I strolled obliviously in front of their crosshairs.
So. DEATH. A lot of death. A pack of pseudodogs chased me onto a boulder at dusk, and even after getting a night's rest in my sleeping bag, they were still circling in the morning. I ran for it, but they chased me down. Radiation poisoning while collecting an artifact is nothing new, but it acts much quicker than it used to, and despite flooding my veins with anti-rad meds, I expired a few minutes later. While searching for cover before an Emission, I ran smack into a pack of Burers coming out of a building. One raised his arms into the air, waved them like he just didn't care, and I dropped stone dead on the spot.
But let's say, hypothetically, you've survived an encounter, and you're wounded. Let Misery pour some salt on that for you! Bandages will stop your wounds from bleeding, as in the vanilla version, but they do nothing to actually heal you; plus, your weapon will be auto-holstered while you frantically wrap up your boo-boo. Maybe a bite to eat will help? It’ll fill your belly but do nothing for your wounds, and the game makes you stop for a few moments to listen to yourself eat (and it'll even auto-remove your protective helmet while you chow down, leaving you even more vulnerable).
Medkits heal you, but not instantly: your health will slowly creep back up over several long, tense seconds. In other words, no more ducking behind cover, hammering your bandage hotkey, instantaneously ingesting a handful of diet sausages, then sauntering out at full health. Those days are over, like your fragile little existence.
Obviously, I haven’t been able to check out the full scope of the mod, as I spend most of my time dying or creeping around at a snail’s pace because I’m so scared of dying. From what I've seen, though, if the goal was to make the Exclusion Zone even more daunting, more horrifying, and more unforgiving, well done! And, for STALKER purists (if there are any), there’s still plenty that hasn't changed. You still get to play Inventory Tetris, the map is still junky (but I would expect a decent map of the Zone would logically be hard to come by), and, as always, you can still find comfort squatting in front of a fire with some fellow weary wanderers.
Unfortunately, I can’t entirely speak to the improved visuals (as my screenshots no doubt attest) because Misery is designed for PCs quite a bit heartier than mine, but even on my aging computer it looks quite nice, runs fairly smoothly, and I didn't experience a single crash with the latest version of the mod. The sound is quite stellar as well. Mutants are scarier sounding, and being out in a heavy storm with the driving rain and booming thunder is absolutely thrilling.
Installation: There are only a few steps, just make sure you follow the installation and "Starting the Game" instructions on this page, including launching the game with admin privileges. Moddb is hosting the full file, otherwise you might have to merge a couple files from a mirror (which I had trouble with last week). It’s a massive download, 2.6 gigs, and extracting and installing takes a good ten minutes or so.