"Metro 2033" In the sights of SniperWolf427

Disclaimer: This review is the longest I've ever written. Meaning, very, very long. I did this so I could elaborate on just about everything I needed to. I just wanted to be sure to tell you what you're getting into. Enjoy.

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I have always understood why it is very much necessary to compare games to other games. After all, we, as human beings, associate everything we know with something that is new in order to better gain a comprehension of whatever that new thing may be. It's just the way we are. However, there seems to be an increasingly liberal use of the word "Clone" in the gaming industry as of late. And it isn't because the game in question is an exact copy of another game, rather, it's because the game in question may steal thunder from another game. Yes, it's the exact same reason why an individual would hate their next door neighbor's awesome Christmas light setup (I'll get those fuckers next year), because it makes anything else around seem less awesome. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was in no way a "Clone" of MW2, aside from the fact that was a shooter of the first person persuasion. It's just that the people who prefer MW2 get paid thousands every time they convince someone that Bad Company 2 sucks horribly (It's the only logical explanation). Well, I'm the biggest anti-clone spokesperson to ever walk among mortals, so naturally, you can understand my dilemma when Metro 2033 was compared to the love of my life: the Stalker franchise.

Part of me wanted Metro to be a step-brother of that beloved masterpiece, and it made sense, especially considering that two of the lead programmers working on Stalker left in order to develop Metro. The other part wanted a completely unique experience, which wouldn't be possible if the game were too much like Stalker. In the end, Metro 2033 is absolutely nothing like Stalker, for better or worse.

The story in Metro 2033 follows the Russian book of the same name, and rather faithfully it seems. Shortly after a violent nuclear war, all the people in Moscow have gone underground into the subway tunnels in order to survive the resulting nuclear winter. You take control of Artyom as he attempts to save his home from a recently emerged threat, known only as the Dark Ones. I'd recap more, but that is all I'm completely positive about. The story is incredibly confusing, not from complexity, but primarily from the method of exposition. Remember how in Bioshock you had to listen to those little audio diaries in order to even remotely understand what the fuck was going on? Well, Metro is a lot like that. You have to stop and listen to side conversations between two random people, talk to every single character you can, and observe your surroundings in order to get even a slight clue about the plot. Now, that worked excellently in Bioshock, slowly adding pieces to this giant puzzle, but never giving you every piece in order to preserve some of them mystery. Unfortunately, it works nowhere near as well in Metro 2033 and by the end it leaves you with no sort of solid facts about anything. The primary problem is the fact that, unlike Bioshock with the aforementioned diaries, not a single bit is exposed to you directly, rather, everything is implied. It makes it confusing. Never will one guy come out and tell you straight up about anything. Not once. Every time you encounter something new, you wonder if you should have known more about it, or if the game purposely wanted you to stumble blindly through the entire plot in order to keep you intrigued.

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They are going to be so pissed at me when they wake up.

An excellent example are the Dark Ones themselves. They are terribly interesting creatures, especially given how they can manipulate the minds of individuals, and give them some particularly strange fever dreams regarding more than one smoky, unoccupied hallway. However, you never really learn anything about them. Throughout the beginning, your ugly-as-hell stepfather drones on and on about how dangerous they are, but never exactly why. Sure, they can mess with people's heads, but that is never on a deadly level, it just signals that it's nap time for all the characters around you. Soon enough, they're all awake again and relatively unharmed. Even by the end of the game, I had only surmised so much about the Dark Ones, unable to penetrate any aspect of the story enough to learn any more.

The strongest point about the game, much like Stalker or Bioshock, is the setting. The underground tunnels of the Moscow metro are creepy as hell, with very little lighting, and are more often than not, filled to the brim with corpses of your fellow man, or mutants who have stomachs that are, more often than not, filled to the brim with your fellow man. You'll very much appreciate the small details, from the scarred steel walls of the stations, to the dilapidated and ancient trains that sit dead on the tracks, and even the twisted and destroyed buildings that inhabit the icy wasteland of the city of Moscow. It simply fills you with a sense of constant dread and despair, which simply adds to the experience. You really get the sense that these people are simply trying to survive with what they've been given, and the often lighthearted dialogue that comes from the characters really provides a stark contrast, showing that their humanity shines through the darkness. It's all very immersive and amazing.

Of course, the presentation adds to the powerful setting. The graphics are stunning as a whole. Textures are all well done, the mutants look fantastic, the guns have an appalling amount of detail, and the lighting effects are fantastic. However, some of the facial features of the characters lack the detail of most games that are released these days. The sound is another amazing aspect, taking cues from Stalker in this area as well. The guns are incredibly loud, which makes it even more entertaining when you unleash their power upon some poor bastard, and the explosions are deafening. Literally. Often times, a nearby grenade will deafen your character, replacing all sound with a low ringing noise. It isn't the first game to do this, but it does it particularly well. The mutants all have a particular sound to them, meaning you can tell the difference between the mutants simply by listening. One of them, a giant rat sort of thing, screeches when it jumps, and I certainly knew when I was up against it, because it made me shit my pants every single time the bastard snuck up on me. One thing that adds to the eerie-ness is the fact that even the silence isn't silent. You'll find yourself creeping through a dark corridor and a stark, high pitched shriek will be emitted from seemingly nowhere, making it seem as if the Earth itself is crying out in agony. This will seem very familiar to you Stalker fans out there, as it does nearly the same exact thing. All of this will draw you into the game. This game has a presentation that will completely suck you in if you aren't careful.

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On the menu for today: White Mush and Dark Mush

Metro 2033's phobia of telling the player anything also extends into the gameplay, making the game incredibly confusing at the start. Apparently, tutorials are for pussies, and there are no room for pussies in the apocalypse. Instead, they drop you off towards the end of the story, which acts as a sort of unnecessary prologue thing. The main problem with this is that you are shown the surface wasteland about five minutes into the game, completely destroying any sort of mystery and potential intrigue about that. After a short battle where your character blacks out, the game rewinds time to the beginning of the journey, and then continues normally from there. Now, one of the most talked about aspects of Metro is its use of military grade ammo for currency. You take the military grade ammo to shops in order to buy new weapons, armor, gas mask filters, and everything in between. I thought I understood this before buying the game, but I had no fucking clue, nor do they ever attempt to explain it to you. It turns out, each gun has its own kind of ammo, shotguns have shells, pistols have normal ol' bullets, etc. However, the military grade ammo is of higher quality than the traditional ammo, and therefore, more valuable. You have the ability to switch between using normal ammo and the military grade ammo, which does more damage. But (and this was the confusing part) you can only do so with the machine gun. Instead of tapping the RB button, you would instead hold it down, and he would insert a clip of the higher quality ammo. But honestly, this aspect is entirely pointless, and I would be lying if I said I used it even once during the game. Before playing, I thought certain guns would have to use to the military grade ammo, meaning you had to choose between being poor and well equipped, or rich but with shitty stuff. That is not even close to the case. I went through the game well equipped and as the richest fucking man to ever live in a cave.

Once you finally get a hang of the game (no thanks to the lack of any sort of help from the game itself), you will find a very fun shooter in Metro 2033. Many people have been complaining about the shooter mechanics being lackluster, but I had no problems with them. In fact, I found the shooting to be very well implemented, especially considering the realistic nature of all the guns. Creeping silently through a narrow metro tunnel, flashlight barely piercing into the wall of darkness, home-made double barrel shotgun at the ready, blowing away any mutant that dares to show itself. It's exactly as fun and satisfying as it sounds. The game is also very diverse, throwing in several rail-shooter sequences which keep it from getting too stale. However, the main issue with the gameplay is the stealth sequences. Now, it isn't so much a broken aspect of the game, as it is an incredibly difficult one. Not once was I able to sneak through an enemy base completely unnoticed, and with my aforementioned well equipped ass, I was never terribly worried about it either. If I was found crawling around in the shadows like a tard, I would simply whip out the trusty AK-47 and plow through wave after wave of enemies with ease, making me wonder why I bothered sneaking in the first place. When I was able to sneak around a little bit, the stealth did make the game very thrilling. Popping out from the shadows to silently slit the throats of people who would very much prefer to continue living was often very exciting, however, I found myself getting too frustrated when it didn't work.

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"Why are you guys wearing your gas masks down here? It's safe to breathe." "Actually, Jim just farted."

Another troublesome aspect of the game is the fact that the enemies are really not that dangerous to you. You would think that a giant fucking mutant could tear your wimpy daddy's boy ass to shreds, however, that couldn't be farther from the case. Instead, the mutants run up and give you a nice cuddle, showing off their affection, and allowing you plenty of time to fill them full of lead, knife, or whatever. None of this is helped by the fact that all of the bi-pedal mutants in the game are just different color versions of each other. Towards the end of the game, you encounter these mutants aptly named Librarians, obviously due to their extreme appreciation of books, particularly Asimov and Huxley. Regardless, they are essentially the exact same as the other bi-pedal mutants you've been fighting all along, except these are slightly more difficult. This gives you an impression of laziness from the creature designers. Speaking of slightly more difficult, the enemies share your tendency towards surviving things that should normally kill you. Humans can take up to four shotgun shots to the face and still survive, and as for the mutants, well, you'll be very much annoyed at those Librarians. The damned things will survive anything and everything you throw at them. I was coasting through Metro on the default difficult setting with an abundance of ammo, but when I got to the Librarians I lost nearly fucking everything. I can't imagine what it would have been like had I not been so well equipped.

Frequently, you will go up to the surface and fight through the ruined city streets, but the lack of clean air forces you to don a gas mask at all times. Honestly, for such a small aspect of the game, this is terribly interesting. You hear your character's labored breathing inside the mask whenever you run or when you get into a fight with something. And in a fashion so fucking awesome that you'll stand up and say out loud to yourself "That's fucking awesome,", your gas mask will begin to break as you take a beating, forcing you to scour the wasteland in search of a new one, lest you die from the lack of air. Occasionally, you'll have to swap out filters, which looks cool, and ice will gather on the glass of the mask, proving that the developers were very keen to add in some nice details.

The linear nature of Metro 2033 ensures that there are many strong cinematic moments, very much like Half-Life 2, and these are certainly some of the best moments in the entire game. Describing some of these may spoil some of the fun, so I will add a spoiler after this paragraph where I describe one or two in detail. If you don't want any of them spoiled, just settle for me telling you "Trust me. They're awesome."

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"It sucks that we can't re inhabit this place, but it's just too damn cold." "Yeah, and the lack of breathable air is a bummer too."

To be quite frank, Metro 2033 is an easy game to recommend. It may be a tad short (10 - 12 hours), but it is ridiculously compelling, a lot of fun, and has a completely satisfying ending that will have you wanting to play through it again, just to see if you missed anything. Besides, there are two endings, and I've heard they are both equally as awesome. I deeply enjoyed Metro 2033 and I recommend that you at least try it, especially considering that there really isn't anything out there like it.

Thank you for reading and feedback is greatly appreciated.

If you enjoyed this, feel free to read my other reviews: Ninja Assassin, Ruse Impressions, Stalker: Call of Pripyat, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Shutter Island, Halo: Legends, Stalker: Clear Sky, Stalker: Complete 2009, HAWX, Fable 2, and The Boondock Saints[/quote]

I was intrigued by this game as soon as I heard about it, mainly because it sounded similar to Stalker in a few respects and was, as you say, done by some guys who were vaguely related to Stalker. To be honest, my interest has quickly waned. It's not open world (I think), you say it's nothing like Stalker (more games should be) and, unlike Stalker, the setting sounds sadly generic. The truth is, I've spent enough time wandering around spooky post-apocalyptic train tunnels and exploring grey ruined cities to last me the rest of my life. Unless a game is going to offer me something a bit different, I just can't get excited about it.

On the other hand, your reviews are generally trustworthy and you seem to like it, so I might check it out in a while if there's no other games that catch my eye.

Thanks for another good review.

scobie:
I was intrigued by this game as soon as I heard about it, mainly because it sounded similar to Stalker in a few respects and was, as you say, done by some guys who were vaguely related to Stalker. To be honest, my interest has quickly waned. It's not open world (I think), you say it's nothing like Stalker (more games should be) and, unlike Stalker, the setting sounds sadly generic. The truth is, I've spent enough time wandering around spooky post-apocalyptic train tunnels and exploring grey ruined cities to last me the rest of my life. Unless a game is going to offer me something a bit different, I just can't get excited about it.

On the other hand, your reviews are generally trustworthy and you seem to like it, so I might check it out in a while if there's no other games that catch my eye.

Thanks for another good review.

Yeah, it is very linear, not like Stalker at all, and the subway tunnels may seem generic, but the outside world is very far from it.

Trekking through a frozen city block is actually quite interesting, especially with the constant danger of winged predators and the environment itself. i can certainly understand where you're coming from when you say that you're tired of post-apocalyptic settings, as I believe we all are, but Metro just has a certain charm to it.

It's very difficult to explain and I'm not really trying to sell you on anything, especially considering that I'm not getting any of the profits, but I'd say rent it during the summer games drought. It'll be a nice weekend-time-waster during those long, gameless months.

Thank you very much for the feedback. Glad to see people enjoying the reviews.

I enjoyed reading this. Since the story was the main reason I want to play Metro, I'll try to find the book.

I'll still play the game, of course, just after reading the book.

I really, really like this game and I think it's gonna be the major sleeper of 2010. Also, did you happen to notice the reference to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. when you first enter the dead city and Bourbon goes up to a corpse and says, "Stalkers, they look for weapons and supplies on the surface"? or something to that effect. I liked that little nod.

Oh man, SniperWolf you have out done yourself again. This was a great read. Keep these reviews going man!

It's a shame this game can't be compared to the STALKER series. I guess if I play this game I'll find out why.

Quality review.

I'm honestly dreading playing this game.

Stalker is one of the few games that has a fundamentally scary atmosphere. The scary leaping mutants just add to it. Perhaps it's the setting, the idea of the whole game world runs on a set of rules you don't quite understand, or maybe it's just the sense that there is something pervasivley wrong with the environment. If Metro captures any of Stalker's sense of overwhelming dread then I'm going to spend most of my time playing from behind the couch.

A good Russian game? Yee-haw, I've been blessed by the heavens.
Oh, wait, they're Ukrainian. Damn, false alarm.
Another really in-depth review, the best one of Metro 2033 that I've seen so far (including IGN and Gamespot).

This was a great read.
I've been looking forward to this game for a long time.

Good job on the review. It seems like you've got your format and writing style down quite well. I think what you talked about as one of the main problems would be a "Bad difficulty curve" considering those vicious librarians. I didn't think it was "Very, very long" as you indicated at the start of the review.

I didn't even think that when I was done reading. Good pacing and explanation in your writing, something I would like to see more.

I'll probably either get this game later down the track or go for a rent much sooner. Probably not too soon though, the Combat Arena in God of War 3 is keeping me entertained for a disturbing amount of time.

My biggest problem with the game is that stealth is so goddamn unreliable. Sometimes when knifing somebody, they let out a screech that alerts the entire base, at other times, they ignore bullets to the back of the head and occasionally i'm detected at random without stepping on glass/hitting cans/being illuminated/being in the same room/moving/doing anything at all.

reg42:
This was a great read.
I've been looking forward to this game for a long time.

Chances are, you won't be disappointed. I was looking forward to the game as well, I, however, had no clue what to expect. Just make sure you understand that the game is completely linear. The game leads by the hand the entire way. As long as you're ok with that, then you won't have any problems.

MicCheck1two:
I really, really like this game and I think it's gonna be the major sleeper of 2010. Also, did you happen to notice the reference to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. when you first enter the dead city and Bourbon goes up to a corpse and says, "Stalkers, they look for weapons and supplies on the surface"? or something to that effect. I liked that little nod.

Yeah, I was going to mention it, but I thought there really was no room for it in the review. I honestly couldn't decide whether it was a nod, or a shot at them.

Oh well, it was cool nonetheless.

What does it have in terms of replay value?

To put it bluntly, for 10-12 hours of gameplay, I see no reason to get it now, rather than get a used copy.

Ajna:
What does it have in terms of replay value?

To put it bluntly, for 10-12 hours of gameplay, I see no reason to get it now, rather than get a used copy.

Yeah. Well, I'm going back for a second time just to see the alternate ending. The replay value would essentially be the equivalent of say... Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's campaign.

Except, you know, if it had multiple endings.

Nice review. I know I will eventually play it.

Excellent read sir, you've now cemented it in my mind, I want this game.

Fabulous review. I'm now intrigued in a game I previously had no interest in. /claps approvingly

I've been reading a number of reviews on this game trying to decide if I should get it. I have to say yours is one of the most thorough I have read, and I think now I will have to give this game a try.

And, I have the book on order. I wonder if reading it first will help me to understand the story better. I'm wondering if you had a chance to read the book, would you do it before you played the game, or after?

meganmeave:
I've been reading a number of reviews on this game trying to decide if I should get it. I have to say yours is one of the most thorough I have read, and I think now I will have to give this game a try.

And, I have the book on order. I wonder if reading it first will help me to understand the story better. I'm wondering if you had a chance to read the book, would you do it before you played the game, or after?

That's a tough one. The plot is pretty damn confusing in the game, however, you might enjoy getting the sparse details in the game, considering how cinematic it is.

Honestly, I'm glad I played the game first, as the ending was very interesting (not to mention surprising) and very much fun to play through.

SniperWolf427:

meganmeave:
I've been reading a number of reviews on this game trying to decide if I should get it. I have to say yours is one of the most thorough I have read, and I think now I will have to give this game a try.

And, I have the book on order. I wonder if reading it first will help me to understand the story better. I'm wondering if you had a chance to read the book, would you do it before you played the game, or after?

That's a tough one. The plot is pretty damn confusing in the game, however, you might enjoy getting the sparse details in the game, considering how cinematic it is.

Honestly, I'm glad I played the game first, as the ending was very interesting (not to mention surprising) and very much fun to play through.

I have my answer then! I'll give it a play through first. Thanks!

The dark ones are explained in more detail in the book. And the reason why it's so hard to get a clear picture of things in the game is because it's hard to get a clear picture in the book. Everyone Artyom meets in the book have a different view of what is happening and why.

**** Huuuuge spoiler if you haven't read the book or played through the entire game. Do not read if you want to play the game or read the book****

I just stumbled on this review and might I just say I found it very well done. Without going into specifics, as that would take too long, it was overall extremely well written, informative, and occasionally humorous. Hell, it even opened up with a thoughtful statement about human nature. It had everything.

This game sounds great and I can't wait to play it, though unfortunately I must. Due to an inconveniently-timed family vacation I will be away from my computer for the next week. I considered getting it for the 360, but after some research I decided I'd rather wait to play the higher quality PC version when I get back. So I will wait.

Incidentally, I've been trying to get my hands on the book to read over my vacation, but I can't find it anywhere, except for used copies which are ridiculously high priced. I don't suppose anyone could help me out?

ElephantGuts:
I just stumbled on this review and might I just say I found it very well done. Without going into specifics, as that would take too long, it was overall extremely well written, informative, and occasionally humorous. Hell, it even opened up with a thoughtful statement about human nature. It had everything.

This game sounds great and I can't wait to play it, though unfortunately I must. Due to an inconveniently-timed family vacation I will be away from my computer for the next week. I considered getting it for the 360, but after some research I decided I'd rather wait to play the higher quality PC version when I get back. So I will wait.

Incidentally, I've been trying to get my hands on the book to read over my vacation, but I can't find it anywhere, except for used copies which are ridiculously high priced. I don't suppose anyone could help me out?

Thanks for the feedback mate, I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

Meganmeave (about two posts above yours) said she has a copy of the book on order. You could always ask her.

Great job on the review. I absolutely love this game like no other. I'm not a fan of being scared and whatnot, and there are a lot of flaws like too many of the same voices/faces. A lot of people don't seem to understand why killing thins is so hard, but I mean you're using dirty bullets, with home made guns. plus it adds to the scary atmosphere. And this game has such an amazing atmosphere, I was hooked right away. I'm looking for the book, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed on a Metro 2034, which is supposedly an indirect sequel involving a different character. I think I read that it was Miller, but I don't think the book has been translated into English yet.

I wouldn't say librarians are slightly more difficult, as I was sending arrow and arrow into their heads, heart pounding as they chased me around the library. I thought I was only going to have to fight one, but oh no, one after the other. I was looking for ammo, and constantly had to charge my flashlight as the place freaked me out.

On The Dark Ones-

I have heard from people who have read the book that they left out a lot of the book, and stories of Artyom's travel. I wish we could've stayed in Polis longer. He spends so much time going there, only to be there for a few min. in game. But from what I have heard he spends days or weeks there. I also believe that they said they left out part of the ending/changed it, for the worse.

Sorry, for the length, I just really love this game, haha.

TylerC:
Great job on the review. I absolutely love this game like no other. I'm not a fan of being scared and whatnot, and there are a lot of flaws like too many of the same voices/faces. A lot of people don't seem to understand why killing thins is so hard, but I mean you're using dirty bullets, with home made guns. plus it adds to the scary atmosphere. And this game has such an amazing atmosphere, I was hooked right away. I'm looking for the book, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed on a Metro 2034, which is supposedly an indirect sequel involving a different character. I think I read that it was Miller, but I don't think the book has been translated into English yet.

I wouldn't say librarians are slightly more difficult, as I was sending arrow and arrow into their heads, heart pounding as they chased me around the library. I thought I was only going to have to fight one, but oh no, one after the other. I was looking for ammo, and constantly had to charge my flashlight as the place freaked me out.

On The Dark Ones-

I have heard from people who have read the book that they left out a lot of the book, and stories of Artyom's travel. I wish we could've stayed in Polis longer. He spends so much time going there, only to be there for a few min. in game. But from what I have heard he spends days or weeks there. I also believe that they said they left out part of the ending/changed it, for the worse.

Sorry, for the length, I just really love this game, haha.

Thanks for the feedback, it's greatly appreciated.

As for the game, I was playing Bioshock 2 the other day, and it made me re-look at Metro 2033 even more charitably than before. I enjoyed Bioshock 2's story much more, but the game just wasn't nearly as much fun. It's funny how playing a game that should have been awesome but was only decent, really makes you think about all the games that you should have appreciated more.

Metro 2033 is just a good game. Plain and simple. Well, except for the amoebas. I want to punch the guy who thought that would have been a good idea.

 

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