Oh look! Another post-apocalyptic shooter set in a world destroyed by nuclear holocaust where you must survive against a horde of angry mutants that are partially your fault! That being said, Metro 2033 is a sci-fi first-person shooter based, interestingly enough, on the Russian novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky. The story takes place in the Metro subways of Moscow where the surviving citizens from an atomic bomb attack have been living.
Created by the Ukrainian company 4A games, Metro 2033 does its best to mix in the right amount of scares and shooting. Players assume the role of Artyom, a young Muscovite who has lived his entire life in the Exhibition Metro Station. Life is good until you are asked to deliver a message to a different station which, believe it or not, is a complete suicide mission.
The basis for Metro 2033 is the first-person shooter aspect. While most fps games are packed with endless firefights Metro 2033 takes a different route. Rather than being a guns-blazing action packed game like Halo, Metro 2033 tends to be more like Doom 3 in where it tries to scare just as much as it tries to kill you.
However, that isn't to say that the gunfights in this game are terrible. When you do manage to come under attack, the game can vary greatly. There are two basic types of enemies you face off against. Obviously there are the mutants birthed from the nuclear attack and then there are other humans. Mutant battles are pretty standard, shoot anything that moves because if you don't you are going to be impaled and ripped to shreds by razor sharp mutant claws.
Firefights against other survivors are for more interesting. You will typically face off against other humans in darker areas with decreased visibility. This aspect can be used to your advantage in numerous ways. The dim lighting makes these encounters more stealthy and gives you a sort of "cat-and-mouse" angle. Another type of battle you will encounter is the typical yet entertaining on-rail shooter. What makes the on-rail shooters interesting is that you are literally on rails, the rails of of the subway as you shoot out of a trolley.
One complaint that many gamers may have is that the guns in this game are not as powerful as they are in other games, especially because ammo is scarce. But this was done for a reason. The less powerful guns and scarce ammo fits the conceptional feel of the game perfectly and also requires you to think stealthily, strategically and conservatively. Another complaint that gamers may have is that you do not automatically switch weapons when you run out of ammo. But that can also be seen as a way to add some more realism to the game.
There are a lot of interesting aspects besides shooting that are involved in the game. One of the cooler aspects are the areas in the game, both underground and above ground, that are toxic due the explosion. Your character does have a gas mask but those are in short supply so it forces you to keep moving all the time. These levels add a sense of urgency and desperation to the game which is a good change of pace to the slower pace the game typically has. Though none of that really matters if your mask gets destroyed while in a gun battle.
While Metro 2033 is a pretty decent game, it could have done better. The scary themes in the game could have been scarier do to the fact that 4A didn't do much with the sound design. Other games like Dead Space and Silent Hill are better choices if you really want a good scare. It also isn't that good as a suspenseful shooter.
Gunfights with other humans are interesting due to the stealthy aspects thrown in there but a lot of the times they are ruined by crappy A.I. The mutant fights are not as scary and frantic as they are in games like Dead Space. On top of that, there are also some control issues. There are numerous controller configurations, none of which seem to feel right compared to typical fps games. Another big problem is that the story is laid out terribly. This is bad because later in the game the story gets a little weird but it seems the explanation for that was left in the book.
The real opinion about this game is greatly dependent on your expectations of the game. For example, if you are looking for a game resembling the scares of Dead Space, then you will probably find this game to be a bit calm. If you think this game to have epic story and adventure ala Fallout 3 then it will come off as a hollow shooter. If you want fast-paced action like that of Modern Warfare 2 then Metro 2033 is going to appear bland. This game isn't bad and it is obvious that you could do a lot worse. The biggest fault is that the mechanics of Metro 2033 could have been better. You can pick this game up now for the Xbox 360 and the PC.
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