A game based on a real event (yes, there is really a Chernobyl and there was a nuclear accident there in 1986) can make for a good gaming experience, depending on how far from reality they get and how much stretching of the imagination you got going on. Don't get me wrong, I'm all up for some escapist game play based on a hint of reality, it's just that at times the story line in STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl can be a bit hard to follow (you'll be like, o ok in one breath and then be like, huh? in the next). Back to the game, the goal is to create a virtual world with an ecology all its own and then place you in the middle of it. You play as the Marked One (think Half-Life's Gordon Freeman's bastard brother). The game fast-forwards three years past the 1986 event where radioactive hotspots produce mutants (armed, of course) and an assortment of freaky stuff. You start off game play figuring who you are and what the heck is going on at the zone's core. You are slowly drawn into the strange world that has emerged in the zone since the famous nuclear accident put Chernobyl on the map. You battle the freakazoids that pop up with a vast array of weapontry including assault rifles, shotguns and pistols (the cool part is that after battle you can loot the dead for more weapons). The artificial intelligence in this games adds to game play, with mutant dogs choosing either to fight or flee based on the environment they are in and if they sense a vulnerability in your character. However, when confined to a specific area, there is a frustrating lack of movement available to your character. The side quests are fun, but (SPOLER ALERT) there is nothing of value to buy from them that you can't get for free with a little hard work in the course of normal game play. Overall, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl offers solid game play with impressive environments and game play on par with the Half Life games. Enjoy!