Corrections: It's not "Stalker"; it's "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.". :P
And a lore nitpick: The Zone was created by a second Chernobyl disaster. The first disaster evacuated the area and made it a superb site for an evil secret lab. The second disaster was caused by said evil secret lab, spawning the anomalies and mutants.
I second the suggestion of Complete. I've been playing with it and it makes a great game better.
It does take somewhat higher specs to run, but not too much. And even if you turn the settings downs some, it still looks better than vanilla.
If I wasn't currently trying to figure out which way is forward on a submarine, I'd be farming artifacts right this minute. (Hint: get a better detector ASAP. The star guy at the beginning has one, if you aren't averse to a bit of murder!)
Thanks for posting this. After I read your diary I decided to look for this game, and was able to find a great deal at Target. Right now the limited edition is only $10.00 at Target, YMMV of course. Keep the posts coming.
I fired it up yesterday and promptly got sucked into the world. Amazing game, and the amount of polish over Shadow of Chernobyl is impressive too. The dialog, the modding system, the GUI, everything clearly got a lot of love. And the Zone feels alive again - for some reason it felt a bit mechanical to me in Clear Sky. Love the emissions, too - made me seriously freak out.
So thanks again for starting this up. Now to see if Complete will run on my rig. Hmm, wonder if the saves are compatible with vanilla?
Regarding the Complete Mod, believe me, I've looked into it. He basically requires 4gb ram and 64bit Windows, which I don't have. He's currently (still) working on a Lite version, which will fit within the original system requirements. Also, I have more to say about Complete down the road... :)