I finished Metro 2033 a few weeks ago, but decided to put off writing my review on it in favour of some other things and to get my thoughts on it sorted.
Metro 2033 is set in a post-nuclear-apocalyptic Russia wherein the populace has taken refuge in the old metro tunnels. The surface is, obviously, dangerous – with the nuclear fallout and the mutated beasties all over the place. More importantly to the game are the creatures known as Dark Ones which are, as the story goes, mutated humans. This is the main threat and also forms the main story arc for the main character, Artyom (which you play). You start at Exhibition Station, but are soon required to leave in order to seek aid from the Rangers at Polis.
Along the way to Polis you meet some interesting (if a little shady) characters and fight against big, strong and tough creatures that certainly make the game feel like a survival-horror. You visit other stations where you can buy equipment and ammo and serve as safe points between the relative scary-factor of the general tunnels.
I enjoyed the way that the narrative was done and the voice acting was actually done well – something that’s more often a failure in games like this. Between sections and during loading scenes Artyom would tell his story, describing certain events and people from his perspective and providing a much more immersed game experience. What I didn’t enjoy here was that the loading scenes which were often very closely spaced and broke the fluidity of the game and chipped away at the immersion.
The combat is generally quite good and sometimes involved you finding some cover and returning fire and other times scampering around trying not to get eaten. There are times that one of the beasties get hold of you and you’re presented with a quick time event. This, however, is not just a QTE where you press a button or die, you have to mash one of the buttons on your keyboard or die and while I dislike QTEs in general, I detested this one in particular. Button-mashing should be left to arcade fighters. The bad guys were also very tough and when you have very limited ammo, it’s definitely not a good thing. Having to shoot one beast in the face four or five times with another three or four of them around you and more on the way was not great. I enjoy it when combat is tough, don’t get me wrong, but turning bad guys into monstrous machines is not the way to go.
The guns can sometimes get quite interesting and there are upgrades for them as you progress in the game. I love a good AK-47 and shotgun and Metro 2033 does not disappoint here – they feel real, if that makes sense. However, like in Far Cry 2, silenced guns are once again almost useless. You can fire one or maybe two shots before every enemy in a 6 block radius know exactly where to send the bullets flying. This was particularly irritating in the “stealth” mission where you have to creep from dark spot to dark spot, but where there are people that want to kill you everywhere. Eventually I stopped using silenced weapons seeing as they were proving utterly useless.
Overall, I enjoyed Metro 2033 as it had a well told (though not particularly full-bodied, but what do you expect for an FPS?) narrative and solid gameplay. I enjoyed most of it, most of the time, but there were parts that grated my cheese a bit. It’s a good FPS – better than most – and for fans of the genre I would definitely recommend it.