Support Jon, click to buy via us...
Metro 2033 puts atmosphere at the top of its feature list to take you deep into a scary post apocalyptic world filled with danger. Anyone taking on this role will come away with a real sense of the terror facing its survivors, even though the tension wains at little before the end.
When I first saw Metro 2033 I knew that I needed to play it. The post apocalypse is my favourite setting for a game, since it allows developers to rewrite the rules of society, whilst still providing grounding within the familiar.
More importantly for me, it also grants the freedom to really role-play due to the breakdown in rules, which both broadens possibilities while at the same time limiting my options with many scenarios requiring a kill or be killed attitude. Whilst Metro 2033 might look like Fallout 3 it's a shooter not an open world adventure - so I was interested to understand what choices would await me in its darkness.
4A Games have delivered something with stunning lighting, particle effects and animation. This isn't just window dressing, but an integral part of how Metro 2033 sucks you into playing a role in its world. It's very easy to imagine that you are sneaking around the tunnels trying to stay out of sight maintaining the element of surprise. At times I could almost smell the decay within the environment.
The plot begins with you playing the part of Artyom, who has grown up in the Metro tunnels of Moscow following a nuclear war. Setting off on a journey to another Metro station, you are seeking help to stave off the mutations that are attacking your home. The story feels similar to Half Life with its voiceless protagonist, eventually though the constant change of companion beat me and I resorted to working through objectives one by one. This is a shame for a game based on a novel - I would have expected the story to be told with more skill and the characters to have made more of an impact.
At times I could almost smell the decay within the environment.
There aren't a huge amount of opportunities to dress up, but that doesn't mean that you don't get interesting gadgets that add new game play elements. Your first lifesaver is the gas mask, which requires a constant supply of filter cartridges to maintain function. You have a torch as well, but once again it isn't as simple as switching it on, because it needs regular charging. To do this you have a hand-charger, which you pump with the left trigger.
The more powerful weapons are pneumatic in nature and again you have a tool to maintain air pressure and effectiveness. This collection of archaic equipment greatly enhanced my sense of living and literally breathing in this world, providing something different in a world of generic shooters.
The weapons add more credibility to a world without industry with a range of substandard guns held together with duct tape. As you would expect, they are initially underpowered, but eventually you will either purchase or pick up better weapons. Unfortunately, the enemies that range from mutated tunnel dwellers to communist soldiers seem to get more bullet resistant as well, which leads to some frustrating exchanges that seem to take forever. I am happy to accept initially struggling with substandard kit, but by the end of a game I like to feel godlike at least some of the time. The design of Metro 2033 doesn't ever really let you experience that joy unfortunately.
By the end of a game of a game I like to feel godlike at least some of the time
The role-play premise of Metro 2033 and the initial few hours are very enjoyable, but midway I grew weary of the darkness and fire fights. The occasional on rails section attempts to break up this pattern, but feels more like a tick-box addition than something really engaging.
After the technical achievement of Metro 2033, I was left a little disappointed with what became another corridor shooter. More opportunity to explore the above ground environment of Moscow would have helped add variety and perhaps enabled me to feel a little more like an explorer rather than part of the narrative engine.
Metro 2033 is certainly a competent game with many great elements, but it just didn't provide enough to sustain me throughout my journey. I was left thankful that I could escape back to the real-world of sunlight and fresh air at the end of each play session.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: