Difficulty played: Hardcore
Platform: Xbox 360 (also available for PC)
Time : 10 hours or so depending how much you die.
Metro 2033 caught my eye a while ago as another FPS with monsters and maybe a bit of a scare to it. Although it looked interesting I usually will wait on FPS to lower in price as they are usually short and can suck, Looking at you again Rage. What I found wasn’t the best FPS ever made but it was something I haven’t had the pleasure of playing in a long time….a challenge.
Let me first start off with stating that this game reminded me sooo much of Iron Storm. If you don’t remember Iron Storm or didn’t play it just take my word for it and maybe find an old copy if you like older games with a challenge. Anyway, I digress, like I said Metro 2033 isn’t that fantastic of an FPS but the story and game play really make the game worth the trip.
Story: After the Nuclear Apocalypse people have gone to living in the old Subway system in Russia. You take the role of Artyom who is charged with leaving his home shanty town in order to find help in fighting the constant threat from a new mutant race called the Dark Ones. Over his journey he encounters many crazy Mutant enemies and Nazis (its just not a FPS without Nazis or mutants). Throughout the game you are given “choices” in how you play to slightly change the outcome of the story. I say “choices” as usually its do it the easy way or go out of your way for something small. ie kill or not kill everyone/everything and unless you know of the other option (see: look it up online) you wont know the other option existed. You will spend most of your time in tunnels and underground shanty towns but you do go on the surface a few times to bypass a tunnel or enemy camp. Since the world of Metro 2033 is after a nuclear fallout you will come across a few points where a Gas mask will be necessary to survive. When you put on your gas mask Artyom will automatically set his timer on his watch to give you an idea how long you will survive.
Game play: Here is what reminded me of Iron Storm so much. The game uses almost no Heads Up Display as everything is viewable on your character. Typically with FPSs there isn’t any “health bar” but the screen gets more and more red but that is not the main thing to monitor. Everything is monitored by you manually: How much time you have left on your air filter and how hidden you are is seen on your watch. Where you see where you need to go next is seen on your notepad (and you can only bring up your note pad or have a gun out so you better have an idea where you are going before you run into enemies). There is also no display for enemies or radar, so you better have a good idea on where everyone is before moving on. Finally the only thing that really did show on the HUD was your ammo, however all ammo was also displayed on your weapon so you could easily see how many more shots you had left. I point out how important viewing your ammo is as the game has an extremely limited amount of ammo in the game. And not just fake limited amount of ammo, like any of the Resident Evil series, but a real “is this enemy worth shooting as I only have 5 shots left” kind of limited ammo. See Ammo is used as currency in Metro 2033 (nice to see a game actually point out that after the fall of civilization any normal currency will be worthless) so not only are you barely scrapping by with the ammo you have you also want to save whatever you can to buy more supplies that will save your life, ie med-packs, air filters or throwing knives (seriously my most used weapon). It was this reason alone that made Metro 2033 a challenge and more realistic, especially any stealth levels as once you are discovered a flood of enemies will attack you, and they have ammo.
Graphics/Sound: The game wasn’t overly beautiful the enemies looked like Half-life concept rejects and didn’t have too much to them. most of the game is in tunnels so everything is dark and bland. The accents of you and your comrades was pretty well done, but I almost rather wish they were always speaking Russian with sub-titles but I’m sure I would be alone in that wish. On the positive side the breathing sound of a nearby Librarian is more terrifying then fighting them.
Negatives: Metro 2033 is indeed a sleeper hit, there isn’t a lot to bring players in but once you play it you end up liking the game. However, I will say that only really dedicated gamers should apply. There are a few stealth missions that will leave someone who is easily frustrated in the dust and will make them for sure rage quit. On that note the stealth sections are easily the hardest part of this game. Mutants, no problem, I killed every Librarian (see: super hard mutant) in one play through but sneaking across the front lines from the Soviets to the Nazi camp probably took me over 50 tries. I also didn’t like the connection Artyom had with the Dark Ones, if you want to call it that, as it seemed to be just another way to try to keep Metro from becoming just another FPS. There is a level where you see all these ghosts and your comrade at the time says you are special because you can see them….but nothing really ever comes from it, it was an interesting part but by the end of the game just felt like a time filler. Also, mutant and some human enemy AI is really dumb, like I can kill every mutant in the game with just my knife by circling around them… and if they do hit you there are a ton of med packs lying around as health isn’t your main concern.
Positives: The story, although nothing new, was very accessible and you really felt for the people in the little shanty towns you visited. The realism to the game, Ammo being the only real form of currency as who the fuck wants bottle caps ;p also the no HUD action really makes some normally simple moments, really intense. Friendly AI was actually ok, not the best by far, but it was nice to see your comrades handle their own, and even save you some times from mutant attack. There was easily more than one time where I accidentally shot a mutant after my comrade shot and killed him first, made me have a few “Hey, that one was mine!” moments, but also made me mad for wasting a bullet (seriously don’t waste bullets).
Over all this was a fun game where there was actually a challenge. It was also a game of small details, cracks in your gas mask as you take damage or the labored breathing when you run low on an air filter. However, I am still glad I waited on this one as it wasn’t exactly long and the reply value for me isn’t exactly there. (There are two endings to the game and it all depends on your last choice in the game, so just reload and play the last 2 mins). If Metro 2033 ever caught your eye and you want a decent challenge or if you ever played Iron Storm, give it a shot. Otherwise you can easily let this one pass you by as another FPS in the market and you wont really miss anything major.
I Beat It First.