Reviewed: April 21, 2010
Released: March 16, 2010
If I were to tell you that I grew up in underground facility for most of my life you would either think that I lived a sheltered life in a nuclear bunker or I just described the opening to one of the biggest console and PC titles in the last couple of years. However I did not live in a bunker and Iím not talking about the game that has more expansions that most MMOs. I am talking however about the newest THQ published 4A Games developed title Metro 2033.
To be quite honest I was rather curious about Metro 2033 when it hit stores. The story sounded interesting and a bit familiar. I like to pride myself on playing titles that might get overshadowed due to other titles or low advertisement. Not all these games have been good over the years but Metro 2033 for PC proves that these underdog titles can and should succeed and be played.
Based on the novel of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky Metro 2033 tells the story of one Metro Station dweller, Artyom, an orphan surviving in the shattered subway of a post apocalyptic Moscow. Metro 2033 is a story of intensive underground survival where the fate of mankind rests in you, the playerís hand. The surface world is toxically in shambles and the tunnels which you will spend a good deal of time in are haunted with residual memories, eerie childrenís voices and eight-foot long mutant rats.
Metro has several things going for it, including the semi integrated HUD, atmospheric presentation, and bullet trade system. The developers took a great deal of effort to make the parts of the HUD blend into the environment such as your fresh air levels on your wristwatch and the amount of ammo currently in your weapon. Metro 2033 does feature a standard HUD that fades from view when certain buttons or mouse functions are not used which is nice.
If you havenít guessed already, Metro 2033 is a first person shooter survival horror action game. One of the key aspects of this title is to constantly keep you on your toes as every bullet you fire counts, every move you make can affect the outcome of the ending. While Metro doesnít really have a lot of moral choices like other prominent titles it does have areas that will lead you to one of two possible endings.
There have been very few games that Iíve played that have me scrounging for bullets to use for my guns like in Metro 2033. This is one of the first recent titles that actually had me fight with all my weapons dry and trying to fight off a horde of creatures with nothing but a hunting knife. In one attempt I actually spent more currency on ammo than I did on filters for my mask and ended up dead ending myself in the game forcing me to restart from the beginning of a prior chapter.
You have to be very careful on how you spend the military grade ammo (currency) as well as how you take down creatures and humans alike. Military grade ammo as well as normal ammo can be found through the world hidden in remote locations and stations as well on human corpses. Human targets arenít so bad and go down fairly quickly but the mutated creatures are a whole other story. Some of the weapons featured in Metro 2033 are more effective than others against certain foe and you just have to play around a bit until you find the right combination. The main rule of thumb is that Metro 2033 is a title that you cannot just go into a room guns blazing, not if you want to survive.
As far as the levels and mechanics go some of my favorite parts of the stealth parts. They are also some of the hardest challenges in Metro. In one area your current Russian ďbuddyĒ is captured and you are ultimately tasked with freeing him. In this area there are plenty of opportunities to take out your enemies one by one via knife or what ever means you have at you disposal. I actually enjoyed sneaking up behind an enemy after I snuffed out the light in that area to take him out.
These stealth areas also cause a bit of a trouble as far as gameplay goes because if you so much as trigger a trap, step on broken glass or rattle hanging cans every enemy in the area knows where you are instantly. There is no grey area here, no alert of switch. You just have to find away to take them all out with getting your head blown off. The AI itself isnít as smart as Iíve seen I some games but they are none the less deadly.
As far as the levels are concerned in Metro 2033, the locations vary very little as you find yourself going from one subway tunnel to the next, occasionally going up to the surface and back down again, The finale takes place above ground and is a great ending. But despite the lack of an abundance of places to go the worlds are nicely designed and flushed out. The first Metro Station you see in the title really makes your heart sink as you see the state of its inhabitants. This is a world with little hope, relying on instinct to survive at all cost and constantly living with the fear that they will never see tomorrow.
Graphically, the PC version of Metro 2033 is pretty impressive as well as demanding when it comes to the required system specs as my card barely made the minimum requirement. But fear not, Metro 2033 ran remarkable well on my setup with little to no trouble what so ever. The attention to detail on everything is quite impressive, especially when it comes to the mutated creature designs and the environmental and weapons textures. I really liked the realistic look to the weapons even if some of their designed looked a weird sometimes.
The guys at 4A Games also did a really good job with the atmospheric scare factor. The green mist like clouds in the tunnels and especially the remnant memories seen throughout Metro 2033 are wickedly cool and down right creepy. And for those players sporting 3D hardware, Metro 2033 can be experienced in a whole new dimension of horror. Sadly I donít have the equipment to test how this looks but at least the option is available for those that do. Metro 2033 also supports Nvidia PhysX for even more detailed environment interaction and detail.
Sound is one of the most important factors that make any survival horror worth its weight. Graphics alone will not sell a title, though they definitely help in this day and age. Metro 2033 features some really good voice acting and ambient sound effects. Some of the weapons effects come off a bit weak but other really carry that solid audio feel to them. One of the coolest scares in Metro 2033 is the childrenís voices running through the pipes in the tunnel. Unless you want to find out what happens if you listen too long Iíd do what Kahn says.
Metro 2033 has a good deal to offer the player. It has a great story and atmosphere and a reason to play it multiple times. There is no multiplayer available which is fine by me since Iím not a huge fan of multiplayer in shooters, save a few titles here and there. For the most part I just really liked the constant fear of running out of ammo and scrounging around for more as you fight off mutated creatures and humans alike. I like a challenge and in parts, Metro 2033 proves to do just that.
Itís no secret that Iím a sucker for titles that are designed to unnerve or full out scare the crap out of you. These types of titles are what make being a gamer and a reviewer interesting and worthwhile. Metro 2033 came in under the radar appearing to be yet another overpriced B-horror title selling for $50 bucks but quickly became one of my new favorites of the year. I definitely recommend giving Metro 2033 for PC a try. Itís a wicked trip that I definitely plan on taking again.