|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 4A Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 16, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
There is no better time to be a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre than the present. It is seemingly everywhere. Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Road" was released in 2006 and subsequently adapted into a decidedly less successful film last November. Then there was "The Book of Eli," earlier this year, and "I Am Legend" in 2007, and the "Terminator" franchise before that. Needless to say, there are a lot of options available.
When it comes to games, the most famous in the genre is likely Fallout, after Bethesda's successful revival of the popular RPG series. While Fallout 3 won plenty of accolades, THQ and developer 4A Games are counting betting that there's plenty of room left to hold their recent book-to-game release. Enter Metro 2033, a FPS and survival horror hybrid, exclusively for the Xbox 360 and PC.
In Metro 2033, you are put in the shoes of Artyom, a Russian man living in the vast underground metro system of Moscow. Since the war, survivors have been forced to live underground, protected from the harmful air on the surface. Various communities have sprung up as people try to live life as best as possible in their given circumstances, while gaining safety in numbers from the mysterious supernatural creatures known as "Dark Ones".
The story is put into motion when Artyom is forced to save his home and travel through the metro with the occasional trip to the surface. Along the way, Artyom acquires traveling partners and allies of ill repute that assist and occasionally join him for part of his journey. In this world, it's survival of the fittest; people's motives are rarely pure and their pasts rarely clean. A bit of free advice: don't be too eager to "enjoy" the company of friendly redheads.
Despite the first-person and setting similarities, don't mistake Metro 2033 for the free roaming world of Fallout 3. Metro 2033 is a decidedly linear game that sets you on your course with little room for deviation. It actually feels rather restraining when the Fallout comparisons naturally repeatedly come to mind. However, Metro 2033 was never marketed or intended as an open-world game and is something I found helpful to remind myself each time I longed to branch out on my own and explore the world.
The atmosphere of Metro 2033 is about as hopeless and desolate as one would expect from a world living in the wake of nuclear disaster. People are dirty, space is cramped, and lighting is dim. There are bandits and conmen eager to prey upon the ill-prepared, weak, and foolish. It's easy to become engrossed in the atmosphere. 4A Games did a tremendous job of bringing a sense of hopelessness and desperation to the world around Artyom.
A key and practical aspect of that hopelessness and despair is the rarity of quality goods since the war. Weapons are central to Artyom's survival. The quality of both ammunition and weapons produced in recent years is decidedly less than those manufactured previously. "Dirty amo" are cartridges produced by citizens of the metro. They get the job done but lack the damage of real bullets which can also be found and used. The twist is high grade bullets are used as a universal currency by Moscow's denizens as well. This introduces an interesting challenge of resource management to the game. Because ammunition isn't always abundant, there are times you are faced with the choice of switching to your knife or other subpar weapon for the job versus using your good bullets to get the job done thereby shooting away money from your pocket.
While the atmosphere and resource rationing are survival horror-based, combat is definitely FPS. Artyom is able to carry several weapon types at once. From throwing knives to a pistol to a shotgun, the base weapons are familiar choices. Toss a grenade into a group of mercenaries and watch them scatter or use a modified pistol with a scope to pick off enemies from afar. The straight up combat moments are fairly typical affairs. That's not to say it isn't fun, just familiar.