Have you ever played a game that’s made you want to read a book? No, I don;t mean a game so mind-numbingly boring that you want to read a book for some excitement. I mean a game that draws you in so much so that once you realise that it’s based on a best selling novel you find yourself logging on the internet to find out how much to book costs, only to be frustrated by the realisation that it doesn’t get released in New Zealand until March 27th.
Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel, Metro 2033 is not surprisingly, set in the year 2033. The world had long been reduced to rubble by way of nuclear war. The last vestiges of humanity live in the world biggest bomb shelter, the Moscow Metro system. Live of course is the wrong word. Humanity is struggling to survive as the radiated earth has given birth to mutated monsters more adept at living in the radiated world outside the Metro, yet hungry enough and curios enough to venture into the dark tunnels in search of food.Â
But something far worse than just mutated beast who want to feast on your flesh has been borne, and such is the threat to humanities fragile existence, that you, Artyom, a young man who has never seen the outside world, are chosen to of traveling to the heart of the metro system, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the dangers.
Of course your journey will be fraught with dangers from more than just the sub human monsters.
The game, Metro 2033, naturally follows the narrative of the book, with you playing the young character Artyom. What initially sounded like it was going to be the next evolution in the world of Fallout, recently looked to be heading more the way of the survival horror FPS on the release of the last trailer a few weeks back.
However, after having the game for the last week, I can say that it’s a bit of a happy medium between the two, more an adventure focussed FPS shooter with horror elements.
You get to kill the nasty mutated spawn of evolution gone haywire through the effects of radiation, as well as those humans who only want to kill you and take your belongings – it’s nasty world all around. But it’s not as scary as I thought it might be, wandering around the Moscow metro with a flash light and an array of handmade guns.
But the game does draw you in with it’s gorgeous environment and it’s apocalyptic feel.
The game play is rather simple, it’s a FPS/adventure where you have to follow a fairly linear story-line with some set pieces that do give you that many choices. But then you get to places where you’re allowed to explore, and explore you must because as with Fallout 3, nothing you carry has an unlimited supply. Bullets for your weapons have to be found around the place, as does a lot of you weapons. And shooting a full clip into a mutated beast is fool hardy if one bullet to the head will do the job. Foolhardy because if you run out of bullets without finding replacements, you will become dinner for the nefarious shadows of the dark.
Foolhardy also, because money means nothing in this post apocalyptic Moscow, the only currency worth a damn is ammo. So shoot sparingly and make every bullet count, because when you get to the next settlement you might need to buy something. be it a better weapon, or spare filters for your gas mask, because when you go into radiated places – especially the outside world, you will need to wear your gas mask to survive. Not having enough clean filters is a lesson I learned the hard way.
Shooting, movement, all the controls come naturally to anyone who’s played a FPS before. It’s easy to jump in and start playing. The hard lesson to learn is to pay attention because the game might be deceptively easy at first, but if you’re not on your toes you’ll probably end up having to restart the game when you find yourself ill-equipped for the journey you are on.
As with any game that attempts something on this scale, there are bound to be issues, and the main issues in games seem to be the same ones over and over again, namely collision detection. In the free roaming population centers, being able to freely explore means that you’re going to have to bump into a few people, and some of the collision detection is a little off and can cause a little frustration. It’s a minot detail, and is certainly not a problem exclusive to Metro 2033.
Once your trading is done and you’re back in the tunnels or in the outside world, this is soon forgotten as it’s back to the battle for survival.
There are a lot of nice touches to Metro 2033, and most of them are in the ‘realism’ of the game. To find out where you need to go next, there is no HUD. Instead you have to take out your compass and look at the direction it’s pointing and figure out how to get there. As I’ve mentioned before, Ammo and air filters are not an endless supply that you can keep relying on, if your don;t forage for more, and finally, if you want you light and other equipment to keep on working, you have to use your universal charger from time to time to keep them juiced up.
Metro 2033 is a game that you will want to play through for a while, to get the feel for the game, then, as with more RPG style games like Fallout 3, you’ll want to start all over again, armed with the knowledge of what you achieved so far, so that you don’t keep making rookie mistakes along the way.
Metro 2033 might not have the sex appeal of big budget shooters like MW2 and BC2, but it could quite possibly be the sleeper hit of the year. It definitely deserves to be.
Reviewed on: XBox 360
Available on: XBox 360, PC