So last week I picked up Metro 2033 for...around about £4 (I think). I had heard of the game but I never played it, so I was pretty shocked at what I found when I was playing it. Now before start I have never read the book however I will if I find it in English and not Russian! So before you go on about how the game doesn't stand up against the book (I think that's how you say it, anyway) I haven't read it. So before you think of anything else to complain about (and good god do I know) let’s get into the review.
Story: The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world in a destroyed Moscow where radiation and a yearly winter makes the outside world an almost inhabitable place to live. The survivors of Moscow live underground in the Metro stations living a constant battle against the creatures that live there to each other. You play as Artyom one of the young survivors of the war. The story begins at the end of the game... well sort of it's sort of disorienting as you heard one of the characters talk about events you haven't even played yet...which when you think about it is sort of cool as well.
Anyway it's not the main story that's what I find the best thing in the game in fact it's not really an engaging part of the story. One person takes on a epic quest to find a man who could save your people, I've seen better. It's the atmosphere and symbolism the world portrays it's believable. Let me explain; when walking around everyone is doing something from conversations with one another with believable animation to playing a guitar. Also there are all sorts of human models from Caucasian to blacks to old people to young children. All made in a way that they don't stand out and you don't see two of the same and yes if you look hard you probably will but I didn't. However this does shoot them self's in the foot when some characters I didn't recognise from passed interactions.
Now to the symbolism, this is probably where I over think some things. The story symbolises the battles that we go through against nature for better and for worse, and the battles we bring against the things we don't know/understand this is symbolised through the dark ones which you can see as the almost neutral as they never attack you, you (humans) attack first so there could be something of self defence and sometimes you could say that the dark ones are helping you. Also the towns if you can call them that are full of life concerning the circumstances. The engine is based on the X-Ray engine ( S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl) which as you SHOULD know that the X-Ray can make some truly great atmospheric worlds and the A4 Engine (Metro's Engine) has kept it to the full amount bring a truly believable world (but yet so alien).
Back to the main story. As I said you play as Artyom and your station is under attack by the supernatural beings called the Dark Ones. Your farther the chief (or whatever he's called) has called for help! A friend of your Father's "Hunter", at first he comes across as a little over confident as he thinks the threat is nonexistent however later you see the character change into in a cold serious character, THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE A CHARACTER PEOPLE! You know what this is only the first ten minutes of gameplay and already I've found something I can praise! Plus the set up is perfect, it's all done in a Half-Life 2 style where you can see what you want and exploration of the area's give you little blemishes into the world. Anyway Hunter goes to sort out the problem on his own and tells you that if he doesn't return to go to Polis Station and ask the rangers to help you.
This sends you on your epic quest to find your way through the Metro (thank god there not going through the London Underground or else you'll be really screwed). Anyway you find yourself going through many areas which I'll get to in a minute. Anyway as I said the Story itself isn't that great but it's when mixed with everything else you get a brilliant story which is unmissable, in fact I can say that this is what most games are missing. I realise now that I've written six paragraphs and I haven't even got to gameplay yet (I think the Editor is having a run for her money... I think I'm going to get murdered soon).
Gameplay: OK here we go let’s start off with the gun play. There are two types of ammo, there's the pre-war ammo which is more powerful however it's used to for money and is hard to find... sort of. When I say that I mean that I think the developers wanted it to be rare but they could strike a balance so they just said "screw it" and put one pre-war bullet in most crannies. This sort of asks for exploration however it’s a very cheap way of doing it. The other type of ammo this dirty and not as powerful as the pre-war stuff, however I found myself finding more pre-war stuff than the dirty stuff, so I'm constantly searching for dirty when I'm constantly picking up pre-war stuff. However being a precocious bastard I hardly ever used a single clip of pre-war bullets. This does reward you with getting better weapons quicker and near the end of the game you get the opportunity for better armour but I didn't see the difference between the old armour.
The levels are vast and somehow unique even though you’re only in one place the metro. Well that's a lie you do go to the surface about four or five times. These levels involve little shooting and more platforming and exploration with one exception where your next to a Nazi Checkpoint and have to speed (or fight) your way through. These levels give you a break from all the shooting. The metro levels are filled with shooting and sometimes stealth sections. I think there maybe too many levels on the way to polis, however for people who have played the game I'm not talking about the level called "ghosts". My least favourite level hast to be where your fighting through front lines against the Nazis and the Soviets, where it's forced stealth and if you get spotted (which you will) then the A.I. will be able to pin point your position even if your just showing a toe nail. It's very annoying.
This brings me onto the A.I. which has a split personality. One personality is dim and can't see two feet in front of them and the other is a bright, smart and can see miles in front of them. This becomes a big problem when playing stealthily. Also throwing knifes (yes there's throwing knifes woopty doo) have a tendency of not doing a think! A leg shot shouldn't kill instantly while a head shot just gets deflected. This would of been fine if there was a mechanic where when that happens they get thrown to the floor while they struggle to get up giving you get the chance to get another shot in while they scream and alert everyone else. Anyway I would stay away from stealth.
The monsters are distinctly menacing and a blurring effect on them gives a great evolution of maniac. The monster look almost alien however you can still see an origin to them. However the rag doll physics just ruin this elation with strange death posses (that doesn't make sense but still). Humans can eat lead and not even fall even when there's nothing left but there skeleton and a his cheese sandwich, while you die as easily as scaring the Editor with a bacon butty (which is extremely easy). This may remind you of S.T.A.L.K.E.R which is true however in S.T.A.L.K.E.R you where basically tripping over ammo which made it balanced. However in Metro ammo is hard to find except for the pre-war stuff which is used for money which is not balanced.
All in all despite its big floors Metro is still a fantastic game and a must buy for any PC player. It's just a shame its repetitive gun play and messy A.I. keeps the game from greatness. However if you can see past these problems you'll be in for a treat.