Not many people knew of Metro 2033 prior to its launch. It wasn’t well marketed or hyped despite its Xbox 360 (and PC) exclusivity status. And aside from a handful of trailers, it barely received any press attention. So how did I hear of it and why did I pick it up? To be frank, none of my reasons were for the game itself. I picked it up because:
- There was a EB Games/GameStop Power Trade promotion for it
- I was impressed by the tech
- I wanted to try an Eastern European game
Silly reasons, but more interesting than simply “because it looked cool” wouldn’t you agree?
I caught my first glimpse of Metro 2033 in an article from the Digital Foundry blog. I was impressed by the visuals and technical prowess 4A Games were pulling off on the Xbox 360. The montage showed nothing, but great looking shots which I mistakenly took as a sign of things to come. The retail version did not reflect the same level of consistency. Underground tunnels, caves and other closed rocky environments looked great, but the outside world was an ugly place. And for some odd reason, male Russians were modeled with care while their female counterparts were treated like second class citizens.
I found also it inconsistent artistically as well. Humans jived with the world; they seemed to belong there. The mutants on the other hand varied from creepy to other worldly to cartoonish. There was a lack of cohesion which was very off putting and disruptive.
Metro 2033‘s greatest strength was its atmosphere. The post-apocalyptic depiction bested even Fallout 3, in my opinion. The struggle to survive and the fear of the unknown were predominant tones which I was completely immersed in. I had to pore over the dead for precious ammunition, air filters and other supplies. The ammunition was used to eliminate enemies and as a currency to purchase new gear. As for the air filters? If nuclear winter wasn’t harsh enough already, I had to manage air quality and toxic air through the use of gas masks and air filters. Needless to say, being prepared paid off — especially when I was alone.
But it seemed like anytime I wasn’t alone with my thoughts, the game would go out of its way to break the immersion. Every single non playable character from human to mutant was marred by terrible A.I. They would either run around aimlessly or take cover facing away from me. And if they weren’t acting stupid, they were yelling out silly and repetitive lines in funny Russian accents.
Metro’s 2033‘s narrative was based off Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same name. Being a major bullet point on the box, I was disappointed to discover how jumpy and random it was. I played as Artyom. He has a voice, but he only spoke inbetween levels. I have no idea why they did this since people conversed with Artyom frequently and expected answers. It paints him as a shy loner and made for a confusing narrative. I was moving from one station to another with what seemed like memory gaps in-between.
“Why am I with this person now?”
“Who is he and why is he so trusting of me all of the sudden?”
How did he know where I was heading off to?”
In the end, I simply didn’t care what was happening.
As a shooter, I had to drop my iron sights and get used to some hip firing since I generally found more success with it. It seemed odd, but whatever works, right? Weapon switching was a cinch thanks to the tweakable inventory style options. Unfortunately, using the circular inventory menu resulted in a few “stuck” fire triggers. As a result, I was unloading precious ammo into walls after I switched from one weapon to another. It’s a bug, but a costly one.
Although I was left disappointed with the entire package, there were glimmers of brilliance throughout. At the end of the game, I was left curious and wanting more of the world. Metro 2033 seemed like a small taste — a beta — of what 4A Games is capable of. My first foray into Eastern European gaming was just as others have described it: finicky and janky, but unique. If they could iron out the issues I had with the A.I, the voice acting and the overall polish of the game, a Metro 2034 could be a truly amazing experience. As for the title I played, I say it’s still worth a try if you’re tolerant and have a spare weekend to fill.
Worth a Try
For more information on Metro 2033, visit the official website.