Review: Metro 2033

The scenario of a global atomic war with millions of people dying, leaving the world behind completely destroyed is nothing new to us. The release of games like Stalker or Fallout have explored this area before, Metro 2033 its different. The game is based purely on a book by Russian bestselling author Dmitry Glukhovsky, but is the game able to catch the atmosphere of the book?

You are the game’s protagonist, Artjom.  Twenty years old and have never seen the light of day. One day a man named Hunter appears in the underground tunnel settlement and asks Artjom to travel to a station named Polis in case he may not come back. Of course he doesnt, and so we leave our secure underground home to explore the depths of Metro’s tunnels.

Graphics

What first stings the eye are superb graphics. The tunnel systems show an enormous effort put into details and are very well lit up. Generally lighting is almost as good as in Visceral Games’ horror shocker Dead Space. Oil lamps, open fires, even smoke particles that are flying around in the air add up to create an eerie atmosphere right from the beginning. Especially the safe areas (stations) where the survivors are trying to live through the day overslosh with lovely and sad details.  There are people discussing how poor life is while others are already drowning their thoughts in vodka in the local bar. A man plays a song on a guitar in front of a 6 man audience. On your journey through the metro you meet many heavily fleshed-out characters that will be joining you on your path.

What really stands out is the variety of said “rangers.” No one looks the same, some are wearing a full combat suit with night vision goggles and are heavily armed, others though are wearing a beanie with a gasmask. Their faces are traditionally russian and the whole spirit of the russian mentality is carried over perfectly (I understand russian and was playing the game with original russian voices).

So we’ve been talking about the tunnels so far. Can the outdoor levels keep this high level of graphical goodness? You spend arround 70% underground and 30% on the surface of the radioactively contaminated earth and lets be happy about that. Everything is grey in grey and the continious use of the possibly even damaged gas mask doesn’t help to get a better picture of whats happening. Therefore the outdoor areas can not compete with the rest of the game graphically.

9/10

Sound

Lets move on to the audio department of 4A Games. And this visit leaves us with a smiley face. Constantly you hear all kinds of noises, crashing pipes, running motors, rotten wood that breaks when you run over it. Weird voices and at times you hear a child cry in the distance. The quite monotonous mutants share with you a deafening scream before you already have them jumping on your face and probably even breaking your holy gasmask!

You should definitely play this in the dark to utilize and “enjoy” all the gory sound effects in a proper space. Another cool thing are the great weapon sounds. Every weapon sounds different and the reloading animations are very realistic aswell.

Its safe to say that Metro 2033 would be nothing without its great audio and visuals.

10/10

Game Design

Metro 2033 is a very linear shooter and hardly offers anything else to explore than the main storyline on the main path. Of course it’s a game strictly based on a book so lets live with that. The fights vary alot and boredom is nothing that will insult you, especially with the thorough action sequences. No matter if its a horde of mutants or a base of communists you need to wipe out before proceeding, the whole game is pretty difficult at times, however always remaining quite fair. There’s no quicksave function, but there are fixed points where the game saves automatically.

Then there is your gasmask, one of the most important things to survive in hazardous environments. When you are outside you always have to wear your gasmask including a filter. Said filter can be used only for a specific amount of time until it needs to be changed again. In addition to the filter management you also need to be very careful in fights. Enemies can destroy your gasmask or heavily damage it so your first person view is disrupted by huge scratches which adds another level of difficulty to the game. To be fair though, all these things add up majorly to the atmosphere once again and may be classified as “realistic” and not “annoying”.

If the settings doesnt pull you into the game then you may find it annoying though. The action scenes alternate with quiet scenes in the stations so the overall balance is fine. Your inventory also includes all kinds of weapons, night vision goggles including rechargement, and a notepad with compass so you never miss your next target.

Metro 2033’s biggest problem lies in the length of the game. Experienced players will reach the end after only 6 hours time. Also, despite the achievements there is no other motivation to really warrant another playthrough.

7/10

Conclusion

Metro 2033 is an atmospheric horror-shooter with both great audio and visuals. If you can live with the shortness and linearity, a tough, yet very moody trip through Moscow’s tunnels will await you.

See you underground!

Overall Rating: 8.3/10

               
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