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Metro 2033 Review
developer: 4A Games
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Mar 16, 10
|» All About Metro 2033 on ActionTrip|
Part of the crew that created the post-apocalyptic shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. left to form their own development studio, 4A Games, and Metro 2033 was a result of their efforts. The game is based on the science-fiction novel written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, who received praise for his work as a writer. He was awarded the Encouragement Award of the European Science Fiction Society in the Eurocon contest in Copenhagen for the novel Metro 2033 (if that means anything to you). The setting is fairly similar to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe only in the sense that it describes stories and events in a post-nuclear war era. In this case, you'll be exploring the massive underground metro system underneath the vast city of Moscow.
Prior its release, Metro 2033 was touted as having a compelling storyline, incredible atmosphere and rather advanced graphics both on the PC and Xbox 360. The claim was more than enough to get our attention.
Calm the fuck down! There's nobody there you idiot!
And again, there's nobody there you blind bat!
Similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., this game relies heavily on gripping survival horror themes that were cunningly integrated into the gameplay mechanics. Now, there are gamers who would declare this game a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. rip-off and while certain parallels can be drawn (some of the weapons, dealing with radiation poison, anomalies and such), Metro 2033 is, in all fairness, a different kind of experience. For one thing, it doesn't have the open-world gameplay of GSC Game World's shooter, as well as its quest structure. Instead, it's more of a linear FPS than a free-roam RPG-flavored action game. Just so we're clear on that.
And, believe it or not, the game's not bad.
Traversing through the complex metro system is an exceptionally dangerous endeavor. There are many stations and a lot of them are controlled by different factions such as the extreme Communists or the Nazi forces. Still, a few are still occupied by peaceful inhabitants and Artyom, the main character, must head out on an errand to deliver a vital message to a neighboring station. With many unexpected events on his journey, Artyom will begin to play a more important role, ensuring the survival of humanity in a post-apocalyptic world that's overrun by mutants and other abnormalities.
In many ways, Metro 2033 is a standard first-person shooter, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting into the spirit of the game. At the same time, there's something about it that seems so unique. Maybe it's the setting or the story or the characters. It's hard to deny that 4A Games managed to establish a remarkably convincing ambience. Whether you're struggling for dear life on the desolate streets of ravaged Moscow or scavenging through the many underground tunnels of the metro, you'll almost sense the dread and exhaustion of the hero as he presses forward to complete his goal. Atmosphere is what makes a good survival horror experience and the developers had outdone themselves in that respect. Subtle visual touches such as mysterious glowing plants surrounded by vapors and creepy mists, complete with bone-chilling sounds of singing water pipes and screams that echo throughout the metro, are only a few examples of how carefully the environment was brought to life in this game.
Setting the appropriate mood for a post-apocalyptic horror game had been done with great attention to detail. All that remains is coming up with decent gameplay, which they did as it happens. For what it's worth, there is plenty to enjoy here. Ammo and weapons aren't easy to come by, which means you'll spend most of your time saving what you have and peeping through every nook and cranny to find anything useful - med kits, gasmasks, air filters, knives, bullets, dynamite sticks, etc. Weapons vary from shotguns, handguns to more powerful stuff like assault rifles. Most enemies can absorb significant damage, so you'll have to make each shot count. In one particular situation, I ran out of ammo and desperately resorted to throwing knives and dynamite to kill a persistent mutant. It was a tough battle, but eventually I defeated the creature and finished it off with two throwing knives aimed directly at its head. It was a battle fought in typical adrenaline-pumping survival horror fashion and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Bear in mind that the only currency in the game with which you can purchase new weapons, armor and other items are rare bullets or rather "high-grade" ammunition. These bullets can also be used as ammo, which I did quite a lot throughout the game. The catch with this strategy is that I never had enough currency to by a proper weapon from local merchants, because I've spent it all during combat. Thankfully, you have a choice in this matter. You don't have to use high-grade ammo and can spend more time searching for hidden stashes in the area. There's always something useful concealed nearby if you have the patience to look for it.
There are a few cool additions such as using the gasmask to avoid radioactive and toxic fumes. The most important thing you have to do is keep an eye on your air supply. Each time Artyom equips a new air filter, he immediately rewinds his watch. The wristwatch has an indicator showing you exactly when the current air filter will be depleted. You press a button and Artyom looks at his watch, while his breathing intensifies and pulse rate increases. At this point, you're best bet is to get beneath ground or replace the filter. Such components add to the tension and overall atmosphere, so good work on that one, lads.
The game's greatest flaw is that it's pretty darn difficult at times and it persistently hurls you into extremely dark areas. Most of the underground locations are pitch black. You won't be able to make out where you should be going, let alone find something of use in the environment. Equipping the flashlight is almost futile, as it illuminates a very small portion of the environment. While it maintains a degree of realism, it causes a lot of frustration during gameplay, especially when you're trying to find a specific object or areas of interest as you explore the in-game world. Using Night Vision Goggles is possible, but you kind of lose the immersion and they aren't always available. Like I said, in addition to the overwhelming darkness, the game occasionally gets too difficult, with segments that are nearly impossible to beat (I had to retry certain sections over 10 times, before I made my way to the next checkpoint). I'm not entirely sure if lowering the difficulty helps in this instance, but I can guarantee some pretty aggravating moments while you shoot your way through hordes of exceedingly tough enemies (human, mutant or otherwise).
8.4 Very Good
A great-looking and surprisingly engrossing survival horror shooter with an amazing atmosphere and fun gameplay, lending a few cool ideas to the ever-popular FPS genre;
Unbalanced difficulty, most areas are too gloomy and the flashlight helps very little, glitches may cause aggravation during gameplay, main story's a bit on the short side.