Global warming, rogue meteors, zombie viruses, alien invasion... let’s face it; a nuclear war seems like the most logical reason for the inevitable end of the world. Metro 2033, the latest post-apocalyptic shooter from 4A games once again brings the horror of a nuclear war-ravaged world to your desktops and televisions. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Moscow, most of which is rendered uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation and dangerous mutant creatures that roam the wastelands. For many years the surviving population has taken refuge in the vast underground subway network which is mostly free from radiation but not without its own fair share of problems. The premise may sound like a cross between Fallout 3 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but the game itself feels more like Half-Life and its sequel.
__STARTQUOTE__The premise may sound like a cross between Fallout 3 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but the game itself feels more like Half-Life and its sequel.__ENDQUOTE__
Much like Half-Life, the game’s biggest strength is its fantastic atmosphere. This is a bleak, post-apocalyptic world in all its harsh glory. The many train stations which now form small pockets of civilization that you’ll visit throughout the game are rendered with amazing detail. You play as Artyom, a young man raised in the subway tunnels who is given a task that could prove to be vital in preventing his home station from being overrun by mutants. Artyom is a typical silent protagonist who doesn’t speak except during short monologues while the game loads a level. The story is well told, moves along at a great pace and features many interesting characters along the way. As expected everyone speaks with a strong Russian accent but the voice acting is generally pretty good.
Metro 2033 is largely a linear game. Except for the few populated stations you’ll visit it’s usually a linear romp from point A to B, though some levels are a little open ended and offer some opportunities for exploration. Perhaps the game could have benefited from a slightly non-linear structure. I’m not talking about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. level freedom here but maybe something on the lines of last year’s Wolfenstein, which allowed you to do certain missions in the order you chose while also letting you freely explore areas you visited earlier. I don’t have anything against linearity and it’s certainly not a negative in case of Metro 2033 but it is one of those games that encourages exploration and scavenging items given its setting and overall atmosphere.
Speaking of scavenging, there are a few items that are quite essential for survival in the subterranean world of Metro 2033. Apart from three main weapons and knives, Artyom can carry medkits and a gas mask which needs constant changing of filters and is crucial while venturing out of the tunnels or navigating through areas with heavy radiation. The game employs some pretty cool effects while the gas mask is on. For example, your vision becomes restricted and your breath suddenly becomes the loudest sound in the game while everything else including gunfire sounds muted. It also makes fighting enemies more difficult. Which brings me to a slightly disappointing aspect of the game – the gunplay. While the “hand-made” guns look great the shooting itself is not all that satisfying. Part of it can be attributed to the fact that the common ammo is actually crap. In an interesting twist, pristine “pre-war” ammo also doubles up as the in-game currency which can be traded in for the crappy dispensible ammo, new guns or supplies. You also have the option to switch to the pre-war ammo during combat. Doing this makes your firearms far more lethal (giving a whole new meaning to the term “money shot”) but it's best to use it only when absolutely necessary.
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