Some of the best games have immersed us in a world that gave a feeling of purpose. Looking left, right, up, and down in absolute awe is no easy task. Convincing the player to truly want to protect said world and the people in it is even more difficult. These are the type of games that will leave a lasting impression.
Metro 2033 strives to be such a game. And depending on your preferred play style, it may very well be just that. However, for others the glaring issues may be enough to let this post-apocalyptic world continue to suffer.
Welcome to Moscow. Survivors of the apocalypse now find themselves trying their best to survive each day in the subway tunnels as the evil above lurks. It is up to you, Artyom, to traverse these depressing, dark, and haunted tunnels and the fallout above in an effort to rid the land of evil.
While the setting of underground tunnels sounds bleak, you will quickly find out that 4A Games has created one of the most impressive environments to date. The amount of detail and life brought into these subways are enough to draw you in from the moment you start the game. The unique community and sense of undying hope each shelter exudes helps to build a true feeling of purpose that many games – especially stealth shooters – fail to offer.
As most shooters are these days, Metro 2033 is completely linear. But the level design and fresh gameplay in each chapter is absolutely fantastic. So well done in fact, that it can best be compared to the top-notch level design in Half-Life 2.
Despite the shooter feel, stealth and doing anything to stay alive is the name of the game. Each of the game’s mechanics add a sense of realism to draw you in chapter by chapter. For example, alongside a normal health mechanic, you will also find yourself above ground where you can be exposed to an unstable environment that requires a gasmask. However, the gasmask uses filters that only last a certain amount of time. Just when you thought managing your weapons and bullets would be enough of a burden, right?
Throughout the game you are able to acquire many different weapons, be it from an enemy or purchasing them in towns. As most would guess, money is useless in the post-apocalyptic world. There is only one thing that offers any kind of value in these tunnels: ammunition. Pre-blast ammunition to be more specific – the highest quality ammunition available.
With this pre-blast ammunition you are faced with a decision: do you use them to pack more of a punch versus your enemy? Or do you spend them on weapon upgrades, weaker bullets, medkits, and gas masks? While this decision is yours and yours alone, Metro 2033 has ultimately failed at making any upgrades feel important or necessary. Instead, this gameplay element is lost as being smart with your bullets is not always enough.
Realism is a double-edged sword in games. When one creates a game that is so dependent on truly feeling a part of a world such as this, one needs to stress resourcefulness. In turn, each bullet is important. Killing an enemy brings you that much closer to your objective, helps you restock your supply, and clear an area that then allows you to scrounge for more. And when even that isn’t always enough, an element such as upgrades falls by the wayside.
Another gameplay element that is struck by this double-edged sword is the shooter mechanics. Approaching the many situations you face in a more realistic fashion by being smart with bullets, sneaking around, using the silencer, etc, is an element of the game that I applaud. Let’s face it, you are one man faced with an overwhelming task – being smart is the difference between life and death in a post-apocalyptic world.
However, some have been conditioned by the many shooters out there that allow you to be an unrealistic one-man show. Instead, Metro 2033 punishes you for that. It does so by making bullets almost as important as your next meal, by being faced with situations that weigh heavily in the enemy’s favor, and, unfortunately, making it far too hard to kill enemies.
It is at this point that the countless flaws in shooter gameplay are brought forth. By making one enemy (human or otherwise) require five to ten bullets to kill is not only something that can frustrate you, but it can also take you out of a game that thrives on immersion. So while Metro 2033 succeeds at making the player feel it is their actual life on the line, it limits the ability for others to play the game how they want.
But as someone that appreciates games that help guide players to a more unique, rich experience, these “flaws” truly don’t feel that way to me. Nonetheless, I can admit that it isn’t fair to almost force players to play a certain way. It’s even worse when cheap mechanics are that guide.
Once you are able to understand what the game is offering you and you can appreciate it for that, Metro 2033 offers a fantastic experience. The roughly eight to ten hour game provides some overwhelming moments of tension and feelings of achievement. From run-and-gun moments, to turret guns, to stealth kills, this is one game that will continue to offer fresh experiences and some jaw-dropping set pieces.
Exposing oneself to what DirectX 11 can offer brings a huge smile to my face as I cannot wait to see what the future brings. Metro 2033 is a game that offers the best graphics, control, and experience on the PC when compared to its console alternative. So if you can help it, don’t dare let the console version entice you.
From start to finish, this game is an absolute thrill ride. While not perfect, accepting and embracing Metro 2033‘s strong suits will undoubtedly leave you satisfied. But if Modern Warfare 2 and the like are your preferred shooters, you may want to sit down and evaluate this purchase.
On a high-end PC, running DirectX 11, Metro 2033 offers some of the best graphics out there. Consequently, the environments created are fantastic not because of their graphics, but because of their unique qualities: which in turn brings together a jaw-dropping experience.
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Full of intense and exhilarating moments, Metro 2033's realistic gameplay elements both benefit and impede the experience.
While the voice acting is sub-par, the sound effects and fitting music fit very well with the game.
The game only offers a single-player campaign, clocking in at eight to ten hours - which is standard for most shooters. Metro's replay value will vary for some.
While Metro 2033 isn't without its faults, if you embrace its strong suits and allow yourself to become immersed in this impressive post-apocalyptic environment, you will surely enjoy yourself.