In Russia...Metro 2033 rides you!
Say hello to Metro 2033, a wild ride that proves not every shooter needs to have a Sergeant McShooty of the 10th Airborne SAS Ranger Division. Seriously though, the first person shooter space is crammed at the moment, there are modern shooters vying for position all the time and most of them are pitched firmly in the Special Operations vein. So it is completely satisfying then to become immersed in a STALKER-esque post apocalyptic shooter that puts the atmosphere back into this kind of game with a bang.Story
Iím not going to reveal too much about Metro 2033ís story, suffice it to say that itís based on a novel by author Dmitry Glukhovsky who worked closely together with 4A Games. In 2013 the world as we knew it was devastated by a massive apocalyptic event, it annihilated virtually all of mankind and blasted the surface into a hostile wasteland. What life remained took refuge in the Moscow underground and lived on. Now itís 2033 and mutants, bandits and much worse roam the surface and the tunnels below. You are Artyom, a remarkable young man who is to play a vital role in things to come. Why and how, Iím not going to say, just enjoy the ride and give the game a chance because whilst the story starts off slowly it kicks into high gear and leaves you breathless.
Also, the game evaluates your actions along the way and the ending changes depending, how it changes, Iím not going to tell you.Gameplay
Do not expect an open world game when you go into Metro 2033, this is a shooter first and foremost but itís a tightly made Ďlinearí one at that. Whilst some of the shooter controls feel a little imprecise at times you quickly get to grips with the way things work. Metro constantly challenges you that way, to change your tactics and avoid a guns blazing route. Metroís mechanics are the same as many other shooters, but what sets it apart from the rest are various key elements that make the game far more interesting. Not since BioShock has a shooter been as atmospheric or fun for me.
The need to conserve ammo in Metro 2033 is paramount, this is a Survival Horror shooter and it pushes you into some vicious confrontations with human and mutant alike. You bleed ammo quickly and since most of the rounds youíll be using are basically dirty ammunition, the name given to post-blast ammo, theyíre cheap to produce and less effective. The military grade rounds can be switched out for the dirty, but they are also your currency in the Metro Stations, without them you canít get the best new toys and youíll be scavenging and fighting to survive a lot harder. There are also people who might ask for a single bullet or two since theyíre starving, whether you give them a round or not is up to you.
You are rewarded for exploring off the beaten track in this game, but you have to weigh the consequences. There might be a cache of ammo and military grade ammunition, or there might be mutants or worse waiting off in the dark and claustrophobic tunnels. There are also pockets of gas, radiation and the surface is a hostile place where a survival suit and gasmask are required. Again, Metro forces you to think on your feet and heightens the sense of immersion by removing HUD based feedback; everything you get in game is mainly from the character feedback.
You must swap out filters in your gasmask, or you will die. If you get too much damage to your mask, youíll need to find a new one. These elements turn every hostile area and surface encounter into a desperate race for survival. Your watch tracks how many minutes you have left on a particular filter and has a small light meter built in. This meter varies from red to green and shows how visible you are. In some places you can blow out the gas lamps, turn off power boxes and shoot out lights. Itís extremely well done and brings to mind some of the early play from the Thief series.
The weapons in Metro 2033 are refreshing as well; these are unique, original hand-made weapons from a post-apocalyptic society where the people have cobbled together their guns from parts left over from other weapons. There are pneumatic based sniper rifles, pistols with rifle stocks and scopes that turn them into deadly long range weapons. The game is extremely true to the source material and delivers a heady chunk of that world right to the player. Donít expect these guns to be highly accurate, just expect them to put bullets in your foes if youíre lucky.
Between the friendly and not-so friendly stations there are claustrophobic tunnels and hostile surface expeditions, there are corpses of the dead littered around and spare caches of hidden weapons, there are traps to disarm for the unwary and every step could be your last. The gameplay reflects this and the whole experience is a cinematic one that keeps you on the edge of your seat, constantly checking your in-game watch to see how much time is on your filter, how much light is there and so on. You can use med kits to replenish lost health and even though Artyomís health does come back over time, it regenerates slowly so bigger wounds need a kit or itís dying time.
The game also keeps you immersed with a journal and map; these are physical objects and must be used. You can illuminate the map with a lighter if itís too dark to see. You also have a headlamp that never runs out of juice, but slowly diminishes over time to a low glow. You can recharge this by pumping up a portable recharger for a few seconds. This recharger also helps recharge your night vision goggles, since the lamp can attract the enemiesí attention.
Finally, Metro 2033 offers interactive cut-scenes and some simple Quick Time Events to drive the story forwards, none of the QTEís are complex or hard, they spice things up a little and never detract from the game at all. The game uses a fairly forgiving check-point save system.