Personal Review: Metro 2033
Posted by wastelander75 , 03 August 2012 · 1230 views
Metro 2033 review Survival Horror Artyom mutants post-apocalyptic Moscow 4A Games THQ radiation
How Do You Say "I Just Soiled My Pants" In Russian?
Developer: 4A Games
Released: March 2010
Genre: Survival Horror/ First Person Shooter
Rating(s): ESRB: M / OFLC: MA15+ / PEGI: 16 / USK: 18
"I was born in Moscow. But I remember nothing of that time. I was just an infant when the old world was destroyed in the flames of nuclear fire. I, along with 40,000 others, was saved by retreating to the metro stations deep under the city. Now twenty years have passed and going up into the embrace of an endless winter was left to a few brave souls. The metro was our home, and our fortress against the nightmarish mutants who roamed the tunnels. Still, we never gave up hope that we would return to the surface. But one day a new threat appeared and we found ourselves in a war to determine the very existence of our species." ~ Artyom, Prologue
Even a city can die. In the ash and ice of forever winter, Moscow, once the crown jewel of mighty Russia, lies still and lifeless. Its skies churn and twist with poisoned black clouds, its once magnificent spires and domed wonders now broken by war and nuclear winter. And its people, once proud and hardy folk, now huddle in the deep and dark underneath, below the poison and the desolation, huddled 'round campfires and memories of a better past. These once proud people, much like their city, are now broken by their fate.
Calloused fingers slide down worn guitar strings, filling the Metro tunnels with soft, despairing music. Old men cling to strong drink and memory to see them through the days, while proud mothers gently rock their children as the song echoes off cracked stone walls and the brittle, time worn wood. Yet still are those lost souls that fight daily against the melancholy dancing in their minds, to wander off into dark tunnels in the dark underneath to never to be heard from again. It is enough to make even the strongest man weep. But even in the deepest despair humanity has to offer, one thing still stands true even against the test of nuclear war.
Life, however odd, however bleak, however dark a destiny it faces....
Life goes on. It survives. Even as empires and nations fall. Even as oceans dry up and the land turns bitter fruit from poisoned skies.
Life goes on.
But if you look deep into the shimmering eyes of the people who must live here, in the deep and the dark underneath of Moscow's Metro tunnels, you can almost see the question they want, but ultimately fail, to ask.
"Dear God, for how much longer?"
The Grit in Dirty and Gritty
"When we emerged into the ruins of Moscow, I felt both fear and sorrow. But, after a life underground, I also saw strange beauty in the dark skies and frozen landscape. "So, That's the dead city." grunted Bourbon "Welcome home, Artyom." ~ Artyom, Dead City
I cannot, for the life of me, understand one thing in my life. I mean, I've been shot at before. I've had tracer fire zip past my head as I pumped a full case of .50 cal. bullets into buildings, cars, you name it. I come home from this, from this experience, and everything just seems.....bland. Rollercoasters with triple loops and 4,000 foot tall dips? *Yawn* Looking a dog square in the eye as it growls and haunches its body to leap at me? Bring it Fido. Waking up one morning to find a copperhead snake coiled by the side of my sleeping bag? Potential dinner in bed.
But god forbid I play some kind of survival horror game. Dead Space. Alan Wake. And now my new personal terror device, that being 4A Games' Metro 2033. Then I turn into this screaming, gibbering, slobbering, and near pants-wetting little kid. Honestly, I just don't get it. Death looming can stare at me, and I simply stare back with that "yeah, what else ya got" look. But put me up against a swarm of giant mutant rats in a dark, cloying tunnel with only a knife, a six shooter (that has only 3 shots) and a sputtering, dimming headlamp and you can check "Saw a 37 year old man weep and gibber like a little girl" off your bucket list. Honestly, I won't hold it against you.
Although I got to ask. Who the hell has that as one of their bucket list items anyway?!
I'm stalling, I know. It's just that I don't like revisiting the horror even in a review. But, like any bitter pill, you simply swallow it down and move forward. So let's get down to brass tacks then shall we?
For those of you not familiar with the game's roots, Metro 2033 is based off of Dmitry Glukhovsky's book of the same name. And for the most part it stays true to the pages albeit with a few noted exceptions (the game's split endings in particular and the fact that the book version of Artyom only personally killed one person in the entire novel). But it should be noted that it captures the atmosphere and mood of the book. And that is the game's strongest selling point. Even though the graphics are a bit simple and stiff looking at times, and even though we really don't get to hear Artyom, who sounds like a weary but exceptionally intelligent man, except during the game's various loading screens (which is a shame really. You'd figure the "strong, but silent protagonists" would have all but died out by now). It is this extremely depressing, extremely dark and claustrophobic setting that gives this game heart and soul.
And although not everything happens in the undergrounds of the mutant infested Moscow Metro, going topside is just as deadly. This frigid, decayed wasteland of a city harbors just as many dangers as its underbelly. From gun-toting bandits blasted by the world's radiation, to the mutated flying "demons" that break though poisonous black clouds overhead to sweep up any unsuspecting prey their blackened claws can find. Even the very air can kill you. Which is why you need to constantly check your air filter supply for your gas mask and hope you've accrued enough to make it though the level.
There are some morality moments in the game, some a bit frustrating to accomplish on a first try basis (I swear that kid in the tunnel......) but it gives you a decent, if not all-encompassing, thrill to know that you can direct your Artyom to be this gun-toting Angel of Mercy, or this homicidal maniac who guns down anything with two or four legs (game permitting of course).
Stealth is a different beast, however. I don't know if there was a different team handling the stealth mechanics, but it is the most broken aspect of the game. I can be in complete darkness, using only my night vision goggles and throwing knives and be about 50 feet away from someone I took down and all of a sudden the whole area knows where I am and this once promising stealth level turns into a one-sided gunfight.
Ammo comes in two varieties; pre-war military grade and metro-made. Metro made ammo is, of course, the most common type of ammo (though not considerably abundant.....this is a survival horror game after all). Metro grade ammo lacks that certain kick military grade pre-war bullets have, but if you're wanting something to fill that empty chamber on your grease gun, then Metro bullets is better than nothing.
Military grade ammo however is sparse but powerful additions to the fight. They can sometimes take down an enemy with a single shot, and are so valued that they can be used in the game as a form of currency. There's that trade-off however. Do you sell that ammo to get better equipment, med packs, etc. or do you chew through potential cash to make sure you have enough bullets to take down that swarm of Lurkers chasing after you after you decided that you wanted to explore that little side tunnel because you just had to see where it led, didn't you?
Surviving the Horror
"By fire and sword we'll take back our world..." Miller believed this, and was ready to die for it. But I was filled with doubt. We had already scorched the Earth once. Now the fire was in my hands, and I had to carry it through." ~ Artyom, Separation
Graphics: Decent, if a bit simplistic. It's not this immaculate prescient world, but rather this Fallout-esque piecemeal of rusted metal, brittle greying wood and broken, water stained stone. Nothing visually stands out despite the attempt to make the environments as diversive as possible. To be honest everything is a bit too dark to really appreciate how it all looks. Even in the populated areas filled with light and fire.
Certain character animations can look stiff and lifeless looking. Arm and facial muscle movement on certain non-story NPC's can come across as shoddy, if not lazily put together. And for a game that's 90% atmosphere, it can remind you that it's not a survival horror experience, but just a video game.
Audio/Music: Exceptional. Music is fluid and folklorish, the ambient noises that drift and echo down those dark and dusty tunnels ramps up the mysterious and dangerous levels in your brain into the "overdrive" mode. At least to me anyway. Everything sounds organic, which makes the game feel organic. Again, this complements the overall atmosphere of the game, and should be applauded.
Difficulty: Are you kidding? It's a survival horror game. It's going to be hard. Especially against mutated mole rat looking creatures that swarm you when you've only got literally 3 damn bullets in your weapon. Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough there are crazy, gun-toting Nazis in here too. ~Woo hoo~!
Controls: Fair. You've got minimal HUD items to worry about (like, *gulp*, a health bar), but you need to pay attention to certain items that you use on a regular basis, mainly to make sure that the head-lamp that you'll have to use from time to time to see where the hell you're going stays recharged, which in that department, you're given a small little "Recharger" you need to hook up to do so. Also, there's no mini-map per say to clutter the screen. You're only given a clipboard that checklists your objectives with a compass that points the way. If you're ever lost (and in the tunnels, that can be easy to do), simply pull up your clipboard/compass to try and give you a sense of bearing. The shooting elements are decent, if not perfect, but it gets you by. So no real complaints there.
The only broken element really is the so-called "stealth" experiences. Like I pointed out, you can be 50 feet away from your target, using either a throwing knife or a silenced pistol, in complete darkness using your night-vision goggles to see your way through, have NO OTHER enemy in sight to "witness" your kill, but somehow, this all seeing eye suddenly alerts the entire area of where you're at and what you just did. *shakes fist at really the one broken element in the game.*
Atmosphere: Exceptional. While some elements may be decent, and while some elements may be broken (coughstealthcough) this just..... this sheer feeling of despair and mystery, foreboding and terror....this game has it in spades. Dead Space? Child's Play. Resident Evil 5? Hahah, don't make me laugh....which, uh, I just did. If you're looking for a game that makes you jump in your seat, grip your controller just a little tighter, clamp your jaw down and feel your heart pound against your chest at the least little bit of noise that seems....oddly out of place in dark and deep of the underground Metros, then this...this is the game you need to experience. If only one time in your life. You won't find one currently any better in this department. In my opinion anyway.
Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5.
Despite the lack of visual punch, broken stealth elements, and a semi-silent protagonist (barring the game's various loading screens of course), if you want to be genuinely scared out of your skin, then this is the game to play. From the soft guitar melodies and dark, genuinely scary moments in the game, Metro 2033 delivers. Though not perfect, I consider it a flawed, but still very good survival horror game. I might even consider playing it again. Just....let's keep the "weeping like a scared little girl" secret between us shall we?
- MartB64 likes this