Metro 2033 Review for PC

Metro 2033 Review for PC

In Post-Apocalyptic Russia Oxygen Consumes You!

There is no better time to be a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre than the present. It is seemingly everywhere. Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Road” was released in 2006 and subsequently adapted into a decidedly less successful film last November. Then there was “The Book of Eli,” earlier this year, and “I Am Legend” in 2007, and the “Terminator” franchise before that. Needless to say, there are a lot of options available.

Metro 2033 screenshot

When it comes to games, the most famous in the genre is likely Fallout, after Bethesda’s successful revival of the popular RPG series. While Fallout 3 won plenty of accolades, THQ and developer 4A Games are counting betting that there’s plenty of room left to hold their recent book-to-game release. Enter Metro 2033, a FPS and survival horror hybrid, exclusively for the Xbox 360 and PC.

In Metro 2033, you are put in the shoes of Artyom, a Russian man living in the vast underground metro system of Moscow. Since the war, survivors have been forced to live underground, protected from the harmful air on the surface. Various communities have sprung up as people try to live life as best as possible in their given circumstances, while gaining safety in numbers from the mysterious supernatural creatures known as “Dark Ones”.

The story is put into motion when Artyom is forced to save his home and travel through the metro with the occasional trip to the surface. Along the way, Artyom acquires traveling partners and allies of ill repute that assist and occasionally join him for part of his journey. In this world, it’s survival of the fittest; people’s motives are rarely pure and their pasts rarely clean. A bit of free advice: don’t be too eager to “enjoy” the company of friendly redheads.

Metro 2033 screenshot

Despite the first-person and setting similarities, don’t mistake Metro 2033 for the free roaming world of Fallout 3. Metro 2033 is a decidedly linear game that sets you on your course with little room for deviation. It actually feels rather restraining when the Fallout comparisons naturally repeatedly come to mind. However, Metro 2033 was never marketed or intended as an open-world game and is something I found helpful to remind myself each time I longed to branch out on my own and explore the world.

The atmosphere of Metro 2033 is about as hopeless and desolate as one would expect from a world living in the wake of nuclear disaster. People are dirty, space is cramped, and lighting is dim. There are bandits and conmen eager to prey upon the ill-prepared, weak, and foolish. It’s easy to become engrossed in the atmosphere. 4A Games did a tremendous job of bringing a sense of hopelessness and desperation to the world around Artyom.

Metro 2033 screenshot

A key and practical aspect of that hopelessness and despair is the rarity of quality goods since the war. Weapons are central to Artyom’s survival. The quality of both ammunition and weapons produced in recent years is decidedly less than those manufactured previously. “Dirty amo” are cartridges produced by citizens of the metro. They get the job done but lack the damage of real bullets which can also be found and used. The twist is high grade bullets are used as a universal currency by Moscow’s denizens as well. This introduces an interesting challenge of resource management to the game. Because ammunition isn’t always abundant, there are times you are faced with the choice of switching to your knife or other subpar weapon for the job versus using your good bullets to get the job done… thereby shooting away money from your pocket.

While the atmosphere and resource rationing are survival horror-based, combat is definitely FPS. Artyom is able to carry several weapon types at once. From throwing knives to a pistol to a shotgun, the base weapons are familiar choices. Toss a grenade into a group of mercenaries and watch them scatter or use a modified pistol with a scope to pick off enemies from afar. The straight up combat moments are fairly typical affairs. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, just familiar.

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.

Metro 2033 screenshot

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.

Environments are wonderfully done. Character models are less impressive, although certainly adequate. 4.0 Control
Typical first-person shooter affair. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is mostly noticeable when in a town with a record player spinning. Voice acting is great and spruced up with Russian accents. 4.0 Play Value
Despite some game mechanic hiccups, Metro 2033 is a game worth trying. The inclusion of an alternate ending only adds to the appeal. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Gripping, atmospheric first-person shooter experience powered by cutting edge technology.
  • Witness the everyday horrors of a broken society living in constant fear.
  • Brave the darkness of the tunnels, where mutants hunt their prey and ghostly spirits lurk.
  • Explore the desolate city-surface, trusting your gas mask and rifle to protect you from a poisoned world and the creatures that roam there.

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