Have you played the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl? I haven’t (duh!). Well, I might not have played it but I did hear good reviews of it when it was released two years ago. Many game review sites awarded the game high scores in their reviews. Now I have heard another piece of good news – the developers have released an early alpha build of the full game absolutely F.R.E.E.!
We are used to free releases of alpha and beta builds of operating system and other commercial software. But free pre-release builds of games are unheard of specially when they are released two years after the final release. GSC Game World surprised us when they released an alpha build of the game (build 1935) dating back to October 2004. The game includes several levels and set of features that did not make it into the final game, such as the levels Dead City, Swamp and Generators that are not present in the final release.
There is a fairly nice static lighting renderer, several locations not present in the release, a fully functional A-Life system, and some cut monsters, transportation, and many other things.
Even the name of the game was different. The game was earlier titled STALKER: Oblivion Lost before it was renamed to Shadow of Chernobyl. This game build sports the old name.
The game has a few issues as expected, and the developers have prepared a FAQ to help you fix it as much as possible. Whether or not this build is any good shouldn’t concern you. What’s worthy is the fact that the developers are giving you a chance to take a glimpse into the development process. Besides, you can’t argue much against something which is free.