|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 4A Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 16, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It's when gameplay deviates from straightforward killing sprees that Metro 2033 is both at its most interesting and its most frustrating. Booby traps are periodically scattered about and make for a great change of pace from the regular run and gun moments. I had never been so happy to be skewered by a log full of spikes in my life, or to be blown up by a trip wire rigged to a grenade. The fact that each device can be disarmed if you follow it to its trigger makes the traps feel fair.
One of the best incorporations of atmosphere into gameplay comes with the gas mask and filter system when exploring above the surface. The gases will kill Artyom quickly if he's not adequately protected. Masks use filters that must be replaced with a spare or be rendered useless. Your watch shows the remaining time left on the current filter before it needs changing. Meanwhile, as the filter gets to the end of its life, Artyom will breath heavier and louder and the mask will start to fog up. Even worse, get into a fight and you'll see cracks start developing on your mask a reminder how close potential death by the elements is at any moment.
On the other side of the coin, stealth is not as well done. Among Artyom's several pieces of equipment he carries is a device that shows how hidden he is at any given time. When the light is green (the trap is clean) Artyom is cloaked in shadows and safe from being detected, while a red light means he's as bright as a Christmas tree. In a handful of game moments you are charged with stealthily dispatching enemies or sneaking by them. The problem is there seems to be an all or nothing quality to how this works. As soon as a guard is alerted that something isn't right, every guard in the building seems to know and be aware of your exact location. I found myself reloading several times trying to avoid detection, assuming I was doing something wrong to get spotted, before realizing my enemies apparently were psychically linked to each other with an amazing ability to triangulate my position. Metal Gear Solid this isn't.
As seems to be required for every post-nuclear holocaust scenario, the music of choice tends to be instrumental classics or jazz on vinyl. Perhaps because it is engrained into our consciousness we accept it but one would think some 80s glam rock would manage to survive. That small complaint aside, the music is actually quite solid. I just wanted to hear some Poison. Although you may expect Russians to speak Russian, they in fact speak Russian-accented English, which is probably for the best. It all helps in setting the mood and keeping you from forgetting that this adventure is taking place in a rarely explored part of the world, at least when it comes to video games. I did find myself desperately wanting to hear a John Malkovich as Teddy KGB in "Rounders" quote, however. These sorts of situations just don't present themselves all too often. One would hope this will be rectified in any future sequel.
It is worth noting that there is no multiplayer option whatsoever. Metro 2033 isn't built like your typical run and gun, so the lack of typical FPS game modes is easily forgivable. It's just something to remember going in, however.
Metro 2033 is a solid addition to both the post-apocalyptic and survival horror genres, although it does more to further the latter than the former. When creating a bleak world with people devastated as badly as those in Moscow, capturing the correct environment is paramount; something done with aplomb. While the gameplay won't revolutionize anything, it's generally solid if at times a little buggy and frustrating, but there's nothing that should put up a red flag. If you're in the market for an adventure with a more somber tone packed with atmosphere, look no further.
CCC Freelance Writer