Aeons ago in gaming terms (well, 2010) there was a game we dubbed ‘The PC Crippler’ – a game so future-proof that it can stand toe to toe with many of the big-budget games released this year. That game, my friends is, Metro 2033 (obviously, since it’s named in the title).
Last year, with surprisingly little fanfare, it was given a new hair cut and a fresh pair of pants with a ‘Redux’ version. Building on already-impressive visuals, Metro 2033 Redux improves on the original in just about every way, with superior graphics and even new gameplay mechanics, transplanted from it’s sequel, Metro Last Light.
Metro 2033 is a survival-horror shooter based on the novel of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Trying to survive in post-apocalyptic Russia, you take the role of Artyom, a young man living in the relative underground safety of the Metro system. In contrast, the surface is a decimated wasteland where everything and anything, including the air, is trying it’s utmost to make you dead. Given the job of delivering an important message about your home station’s dire situation, you are forced to leave its relative safety and venture out into the dangerous world outside. The threat to your home from mutated beasts is rapidly growing, and your local militia are ill-equipped to deal with it. You’ll need help from greater forces to withstand their constant attacks, but can you get the message through?
In the world of Metro, resources in general are scarce and high calibre ammunition is used as currency. Regular ammo for your weapons comes at a premium, and you can either buy it or risk your life scavenging for it. Venturing to the destroyed fallout-ridden surface requires a mask, which in turn needs a filter to operate effectively. Your mask gets too damaged you die, your filter clogs up you die, run out of bullets you die! So a sufficient stock of everything is needed just to survive, let alone prosper. Your excursions above ground may net you a handy filter now and then, but in most cases you will have to spend what precious time your filter has left looking for replacements. It’s this delicate balance of resource management and first-person combat against the mutants and other hostile factions that roam the tunnels and desolate surface that gives you a real feeling of dread. You’ll find yourself constantly asking “I don’t know what I’m going to encounter next, am I prepared?” The human factions are all facing the same perils as yourself, so it’s survival of the fittest. Do you secure the limited number of resources available by eliminating the opposition guns blazing, or play the stealth game and take them out quietly (conserving your ammo in the process)? A simple decision perhaps, but one made fraught by the threat of mutant attacks and the fragility and ever-decreasing effectiveness of your mask and its filters.
With it’s unique mix of survival elements and traditional shooting, Metro 2033 adds up to an immersive, atmospheric experience. If you’ve never played Metro 2033 or Last Light, you’re missing out on a fantastic series. It’s what games should be – an interactive movie, a story that drives you to play on, to struggle through the ‘What the fuck am I supposed to do now?’ and ‘Shit, I’m out of ammo’ moments. The underground safe havens, with their depressing yet gorgeous visuals, and the galvanising narrative are a joy driving the story ever on. Yes it’s all linear, but the game’s setting allows for this, since you are for the most part travelling through underground tunnels or fortified bunkers, so where else could you go apart from forward? You’ve just escaped from some hairy shit, there’s no sense going back.
There are countless games that toss around the word ‘immersive’, but Metro is one of the few that can actually lay claim to this term and own it. It’s a real tour de force, so do yourself a favour and buy this ass-kickingly beautiful masterpiece. You can thank me later, when we’re both breathing clean air again.
- Visuals – 10
- Sound – 10
- Playability – 7
Never has a dreary post-apocalyptic world looked and sounded so good. Loses points only for a slight lack of replayability. Otherwise, it’s quite simply one of the truly great immersive experiences on PC today.