The game takes place soon after the events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. After Strelok disables the Brain Scorcher, many Stalkers rush to the center of the Zone, hoping to find artifacts and treasure. The military decides this is the perfect time to take control of the Zone, and launch "Operation Fairway," a large scale helicopter recon mission intended to scout the area by air. Unfortunately, the mission goes horribly wrong, and all five STINGRAY helicopters crash. The player, former stalker Alexander Degtyarev, is sent into the Zone to investigate the crash sites.