Metro 2033 Review
by Daniel Lein
Post apocalyptic games are a dime a dozen these days. Everyone seems to be destroying the world with zombies, the plague, or an endless amount of nukes. With that said the first person shooter,Metro 2033, manages to rise from the ashes and deliver an engaging experience that may leave you gripping your controller, or perhaps napping through the chaos.
Released in 2010, Metro 2033 is set in the post apocalyptic world of the Russian subway system. After a nuclear holocaust, those who survived escaped the uninhabitable surface and moved to the depressing underground. Once there, people made make shift homes out of the various subway stations.
The story begins, not with the nukes, but with 20 year old Artyom on a quest to save his home station from the mysterious Dark Ones. You take control of Artyom and move from one set piece to the next, fighting monsters, solving puzzles, and simply surviving the harsh world that the story is set in. All with the goal of defeating the Dark Ones and saving your station.
The story of Metro 2033 is well conceived, as it is based directly on the novel of the same name (written by Dmitry A. Glukhovsky). It presents many interesting themes in its depiction of subway life, and does it all with a depressing tone of both the apocalypse and Eastern Europe. The conflicting ideals of Fascism and Communism oppress the free peoples of the Metro and give interesting commentary on socio political beliefs. This is only the beginning as Metro goes on to showcase the evil nature of mankind and its endurance in times of trouble. The story is complex, yet deep and well worth the experience.
With that said not all is well as the story was clearly written to be read rather than played. Pacing is the biggest issue for the game as characters leave as quickly as they are introduced. This gives us little time to understand the motives and personalities of each character, which is a real shame considering most of these characters are important to the story. On top of that the gameplay suffers. Though some events and situations may be engaging to read in a book, they aren’t as enjoyable in a game. Also there aren’t enough action events in a book to carry you through an eight hour campaign. This leaves you with a plethora of dull and repetitive sequences that simply don’t fit.
The gameplay goes on to make more mistakes as it feels unfinished. Though the first person shooting works, it feels too floaty. Bullets seem to pass through characters as if they aren’t there. Nothing feels like it has any weight, especially the enemies, whose animations are awkward and clunky. With that said, the game does exceed in the survival genre. You must scour the surface and the subway for supplies that mean the difference between life and death. Though this is the same for many games, this feels particularly important in Metro due to the high level of immersion.
The world is brilliantly designed in a cold and depressing style. It forces players to see a dying world and fight for it. It’s a heavy setting made of makeshift beds and rooms crammed into broom closets. It mixes poverty and hopelessness in a way that I won’t soon forget. On top of that the game makers utilized the first person perspective to its fullest. They did this by using a great many effects, including beads of sweat running down your face and a gas mask that changes depending on what’s going on. The mask can get fogged up, covered in blood, or laced with snow, and when you get the opportunity to wipe it away it gives you this grounding sense of reality that few games can match.
The sound also goes a long way to keep you trapped in this world. It doesn’t do many things with the music, but this is to the benefit of the game, as the haunting and often realistic sound effects can shine through. All of this comes together to make a tense and engaging world that pulls you in and never really lets go.
Metro 2033 is an interesting anomaly. Books are rarely directly translated into games, and after playing Metro 2033 it’s not difficult to see why that’s the case. The story, though deep and complex, often feels disconnected, with pacing issues shimmering like a turd in the toilet. The gameplay isn’t that impressive either, as the lack of content from the book forced the game makers to fabricate dull and repetitive shooting sections, which wouldn’t be so bad if the shooting mechanics themselves didn’t need tweaking. Metro 2033 seems destined for failure, that is until the gorgeous presentation steps in. With a world that is so creative and so immersive, Metro 2033 makes a name for itself and begs to be played. All of the other game’s issues can be endured to some degree when put to the backdrop of the haunting Moscow Metro.
Metro 2033 is by no means a great game, but its complex story and beautiful world deserve to be experienced.
Metro 2033 earns a 6.5/10