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The Villainthropist avatar 10:29 AM on 06.01.2012  (server time)
This Metro isn't what Berlin was singing about... too many mutants.

AKA A Backlog Diary: Part 30

In the wake of the short film to promote Metro: Last Light, I felt a sudden urge to finish something I started over a year ago.

There are many games in my collection that I have started and not finished. Reasons vary from over-exposure (Forza Motorsport 4 remains incomplete, as the World Tour is huge and I simply can’t do it in one go), frustration (unlike most people, I enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII, but got stuck a mere two hours from the games end) indifference, boredom, and distraction.
My reason for having stopped playing Metro 2033 is unclear to me. I don’t remember what else I was playing at the time, but I vaguely remember buying Garry’s Mod around the same time, which may be an explanation. The short film with the people attempting to take shelter in the underground rail system reminded me of this bleak, dark, pessimistic games existence. I had been enjoying it, despite my older incarnation of my PC barely managing to run the thing to the extent it can now. Two HD 6970’s and a six-core processor sure do work wonders for this one though.

If you talk about Metro 2033, you have to talk about its looks. It seems a tradition for developers of an Eastern European persuasion to offer bleak, dark, pessimistic juggernauts which most PC’s the consumer side of NASA can only dream of running. When you do have the horsepower though, these games come alive. STALKER, Cryostasis and Metro 2033 are a dark delight when at full capacity. Flames flicker idly up the walls of human inhabited metro stations, whilst eerie dilapidated tunnels begrudgingly reveal their secrets to your flashlight as you travel the dark expanses beneath the Earth. Character models and creature design are pretty damn good, and the sound design is spot on. Drips, growls and gunfire echo ominously, and even the dodgy voice acting of Russian voice actors speaking English does little to hamper the experience.

Allo’ Beastie!

The story works too. Being based very closely on one of my favourite foreign novels helps the experience, and even though the game, being a game, must cut out large chunks of the plot from its original source, the game still tells a story worth seeing.
But for lots of gamers, these bonuses are secondary to the primary draw; the scares. It’s not Amnesia, but it can be darn creepy, possibly edging out the dodgier sections in the STALKER series in terms of heebie-jeebies. One of my favourite aspects is the “ghosts”, a shadow or two which huddle in groups, which as you walk into them, trigger a hallucination of the ghost’s final moments. All this while hideous mutants jump out at you from the corner, or a grate, or the freaking floor. Some sections are scarier than others, and late game, the horror is somewhat lost when instead of terrible snarling monstrosities, you’re faced with… ermm.. giant amoebas. Strange.

An example of one of the more tense stands against the mutants.

The biggest disappointment is the end. It seems impossible to get the ending from the book, instead having to settle on one of two endings of which the original is a mixture. I won’t spoilt it, but it made be confused. Perhaps one was supposed to be a “good” ending, the other a “bad” ending which still satisfies and doesn’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

The best thing about Metro is its budget price. I picked it up a year or two ago, but by now, you can get it for around £5.00 on Amazon or wait for its regular reappearance in a Steam sale. I can’t comment on the quality of the Xbox 360 version, but if it holds up, you should definitely think of splashing down a note or two if bleak pessimistic Russian horror could be your thaaang.

I therefore reward Metro 2033 a 9, which isn’t a bad score at all for an eight hour game that took me a year and a half to complete.

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