Metro 2033 Review

Going underground.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 8th April 2010

Metro 2033

  • Developer: 4A Games
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Release Date: 19th March 2010

Survival shooters seem to be making a bit of a comeback lately considering they seemed to have fallen by the way side following the rise of the modern military shooters that now dominate the genre. Metro 2033 is THQ's latest survival and I take a look at this offering to see if it's got what it takes to survive.

The game offers a straight single player experience, there’s no multiplayer to tackle once you’re done with the single player campaign so it was important for the developers to get all the ingredients right in order to create an entertaining playing experience, unfortunately though there are problems from the off.

Based on the book of the same title by Russian author Dimitry Glukhovsky, the game places you in the role of a young man called Artyom. Born on the surface only days before the nuclear fires made it inhabitable, the underground of Moscow’s metro system is the only home he’s ever known. But now a new threat is putting Artyom’s home station in danger so he sets out on a quest to find answers and discover the source of this new danger and safeguard the future of his home. Like past games that have found success in having a silent star, the developers 4A Games have tried to emulate this with Artyom, but haven’t really succeeded mainly due to the fact that NPC’s talk to you as if you’re answer back, except you don’t hear anything from your character. This can quickly become confusing, leaving you feeling that you’ve completely missed huge portions of the story and at times making it very hard for you to follow what’s going on. This however, isn’t the only problem with the games progression. Frequent load screens, most notably in the opening stages of the game really hinder the flow of Metro 2033, giving it a stop start feeling which makes it much harder to immerse yourself in the role of Artyom.

Despite the above flaws with the games storytelling Metro 2033 does offer a pretty solid playing experience. The game is full of the now clichéd first person shooter elements such as riding on vehicles manning turrets and defending set locations and so on. Most levels usually have more than one way to the end and more than one way of playing it. For instance you can either use stealth to pass by unnoticed or play through classic shooter style with all guns blazing. Both approaches provide a good challenge thanks to some very effective A.I. Enemies in the game consist of both human and mutant creatures and both groups use very distinct tactics to try and get the better of you. Mutants rely on the survival classic of jumping out of dark corners, taking you by surprise rushing at you and inflicting hit and run damage. This approach as you expect provides more than enough jumpy moments. Humans on the other hand generally provide more of a challenge, making use of military tactics taking cover behind various obstacles in the game world and advancing on your position or flanking you. Running away serves little purpose as enemies will often pursue and all you will do is make yourself an easy target. So the game is geared towards standing your ground and fighting, of course, as a result this makes conflicts rather intense and provides a very good test of your shooter skills.

The game does serve up some rather interesting ideas from time to time, such as carry a child on your back to safety, dramatically changing your centre of gravity and drastically affecting the way you control Artyom. The game at times also challenges you to change the way you play shooters and making use of your guns isn’t always the answer to problems before you. The game also occasionally throws up strange, sequences in which you are transported to another dimension, again this aspect is let down by the story telling element which fails to explain why this occurs and your again left feeling you’ve missed something. All this of course makes the overall playing experience on offer in Metro 2033 slightly more interesting than in other shooters, sadly though such features feel slightly under used and such elements only give a glimpse of what could have been in the game.

The arsenal you have access to is made up of the usual array of first person shooter weaponry, however don’t expect to find high grade military equipment as most of the games weapons have been made underground so lack the same punch as the various guns you have access to in other shooters, which is very much in keeping with the games post apocalyptic setting. This coupled with the fact that ammo is very scarce at times means that the careful management of your equipment is of vital importance again further adding to the challenge the game poses.

The developers have done a very good of job of creating a bleak and hostile world, the games levels are dark and portray the ruined world setting very well. Some very eerie features are also included in the games visuals which really put you on the edge of your seat, such as ghosts of lost settlements in the beam emitting from your light. Whilst these are only simple shadow outlines, they do help get your adrenaline pumping in anticipation of something horrible lurking in the utter darkness ahead.

The games audio design is also very good, gun shots echo ahead in the darkness of the tunnels, whilst characters voices are muffled by the gas masks that protect them from the posionous nuclear vapours that infect the game world giving Metro 2033 a very authentic feel.

Metro 2033 may not be the most innovative survival shooter to ever have graced the genre, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed in the blink of an eye. The game serves up an unforgiving world with gameplay that at times matches it perfectly. The game also has glimpses of brilliance with some very interesting ideas, albeit these are vastly under used. Sadly, the game is severely let down in the story department and when coupled with the fact that key elements seem to have needed more thought this results in the game sadly not living up to its potential.

Review Score: 7/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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