While being in any zone at all may be something new to most of the inhabitants of THQ's happy-happy-fun-bus, for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl developer GSC Game World the feeling's all too familiar. Estimates vary on how long the FPS has been in production, but "five years" is a safe bet. Heavily delayed – an original release date of 2004 sailed past with barely a whimper – many had thought the project lost until it reared its head at Games Convention in August. THQ has faith. Shipping 80 journalists to Ukraine from literally all over the world is no laughing matter. But the questions are obvious: can the game Eurogamer editor Kristan Reed described as "staggeringly beautiful" in April 2004 really cut it in a post-Half-Life 2 world? Hasn't S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s time been and gone?