Greetz from a rainy corner of the world! I am a technician in the semiconductor industry (~10yrs) so I've seen plenty of stuff that would not seem out of place in the Zone (at least the labs/NPP), minus the radiation of course (I think...).
Other than Ultima VII, Stalker must be my most beloved game I have ever played. Both feature a large world filled with possibilities, and an atmosphere like no other. It's amazing that the two titles are separated by a decade and a half - yet both speak to me in similar ways.
The biggest difference is that Ultima was to be enjoyed the way it came out of the box, and that was it. Stalker has evolved so much over the decade it's been out, I am constantly amazed.
I've played the vanilla trilogy, and tried the various mods over the years. The Complete compilations were an early favorite for "enhancing" the basic idea of the game without overly altering it, but there was so much more out there. I've tried NS, it was amazing but at the same time I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. It's perhaps fitting that I've only really been made aware of Stalkersoup recently, since this might be THE Stalker experience I've been looking for all along - an NS that I can sort of wrap my head around...