Review: Metro 2033 [2/4]

Metro 2033 flew under my radar when it was first released roughly a year ago. I got my hands on it recently after having read about it’s subtle morality system. I’m a sucker for these moody post-apocalyptic style games, so my interest was definitely piqued.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Much like other modern science fiction style games, Metro 2033 is set in a world that’s been ruined by some sort of nuclear disaster. The game doesn’t elaborate much at all about what happened, and instead it focuses on what’s immediately to Artyom, the protagonist. He grew up under ground, where survivors are safe from the fallout and the mutants that roam the surface. Few venture above, but Artyom’s home is faced with the impending threat of the mutants overrunning them below in the former metro tunnels of eastern Europe. And so he sets out to enlist the help of other metro communities to try and eradicate the threat altogether.

The player’s role is to be Artyom’s eyes, ears, hands, and brain. From Artyom’s perspective, the player will navigate treacherous levels both above and below ground while clashing with a variety of brutal mutants. You’ll have access to weapons that are standard for the genre: shotguns, assault rifles, pistols, as well as some other home-made devices. Battles can be tense due to limited ammunition, darkened environments, and the unsettling nature of the mutants themselves. But sometimes the experience is tense simply because the gun play mechanics are clunky. There isn’t a great deal of feedback from the shots that are being placed, and it usually takes a great deal of shots to bring down a target. With many mutants bearing down on the player at once, it becomes a race to quickly unload magazines into targets.   The effect is intense as well as occasionally frustrating.

The experience becomes tedious against human opponents. Bandits, Nazis, and Communists all reside in the metro as well and none of them are making Artyom’s journey any easier.  When fighting mutants, there are a few precious seconds before they are gnawing on your limbs. If the player is alert, they can bring down most mutants before that happens. This isn’t the case with human opponents, who start shooting as soon as they know that they player is there. The game does not offer the tactical control to be able to make this enjoyable. Thankfully, there are more battles with the mutants than there are with Artyom’s fellow survivors.

Where Metro excels is crafting a world that has texture and weight. It foregos the bombast of games like Gears of War for a quieter, and more unnerving experience. The desperate atmosphere can be felt both in and out of combat. The game is limited enough in scope for the audience to invest in individual characters, rather than the abstract concept of the downfall of the entire human race. There isn’t wholesale slaughter of survivors by mutants; people are slowly picked off here and there, and it’s enough to make the player wonder if wonder if they are going to make it out alive. It’s a feeling that was more prominent in earlier survival horror games and is vivid enough in Metro to keep its audience engaged through its conclusion.

Metro 2033 is not polished as far as graphics and game play are concerned, but it’s a world that’s interesting to explore and the narrative’s momentum is enough to prevent it from becoming stale.

Rating: 2/4

See Also: Trailer, Official Site, More thoughts at Ruminatron5000

Buy it at Amazon, Rent it at Gamefly

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  1. March 30th, 2011
  2. October 31st, 2013

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