I read about Metro 2033 in passing, and logged in that back part of your brain reserved for stuff you THINK you may revisit later. When it finally came out, I had some money to throw around and my 360 was needing some love, as it was jealous of my PS3. So I looked up what some other people thought due to me having no free will and being incapable of making a decision on my own, and heard pretty good things. So I picked it up. I'm not gonna shove a, "THIS GAME IS DA SHIT AND UNDERAPPRECIATED AND IF YOU DON'T BUY IT YOU MUST BE STUUUUUUPID!!!", i'm just gonna give ya my thoughts.
Metro 2033 is actually based on a Russian sci-fi novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky. If the book is anything like the game, it should pretty damn compelling and interesting. Basically, the year is 2033 and an implied nuclear war concerning who-knows (you may find out by listening to NPC's but I powered through it. I know, i'm evil.) has forced roughly 40,000 people, the only living ones on Russia and possibly the world, to live in the gigantic metro stations beneath the city. The protaginist is your typical FPS mute, Artyom, though he does have a short narration at the start of every level. The Metro stations may suck, but at least they're relatively safe from the mutants crawling around the country, and the apparently supernatural evolved humans known as "Dark Ones," who fuck your shit up via psychic powers, causing you to lose it and die soon after. Anyway, your father's BFF shows up at your station one day, and you get attacked by mutants. After fighting them off, Hunter, your dad's friend, says he will go to HIS home station, a sort of military stronghold, to get help. He givesa dog tag, and says that if he does not return, you must make the trip yourself, for some reason. He doesen't come back, and our hero is compelled to keep his promise, and starts off on a quest that was originally about saving his home station, but turns into a chance to save what is left of his nation and the world.
The story is really quite good, something I miss in today's FPS's, which generally involve terrorists and the theft of nuclear weapons. Every station you go to has its own feel, and you can eavesdrop on plenty of NPC conversations to get more info on the universe and history of the game's timeline, something I plan to do on my second play-through. You constantly meet new people, each with their own personality and colorful history, and you actually start to kinda feel for them. One of these guys, Khan, really struck me as knowing a hell of a lot more than me would tell me. It's a good thing Artyom doesen't talk, because I would asking questions left and right until people would rather ditch me in the tunnels. I won't give anymore story details away, other than that there are quite a few, "what? Why would we do that?" and some, "Woah, what just happened?", questions, and a few more that are just never answered. But as I said, maybe those NPC conversations can clue you in. Even if they don't, is that really so bad? Open ended mystery keeps us guesing and leaves it mysterious, otherwise you end up pulling a Condemned 2, a product with solid gameplay, but a mystery explanation that is about as satisfying as a heaping plate of bullshit and fries.
Now comes the juicy marrow of the matter, the gameplay. In all the reviews I read, there were complaints about bugs and glitches. Some claimed they were noticable, but not bad enough to detract from the fun of the game, while others claimed that they were everywhere, and that game was a lurching abomination worthy of the company of titles like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 4a games, the developer, were also involved in the making of some of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. titles, which I never played, but heard that they were enjoyable, ambitious titles flawed by glitches. I never had much trouble in Metro 2033. The controls feel tight and smooth, and the gunplay is damn good, though there MAY be times when you are pouring rounds into a monster that you may think, "Hm. Good firepower ended with the rest of the world." But I got by fine. There were two instances I had worth noting. One was during a firefight in on of the early levels with some not very nice guys who had captured my travelling companion. I killed them all except for one unbeliavably resilient foot soldier who absorbed all my shotgun ammo and four machine gun clips. I felt more like I was fighting the Terminator than ragtag infantry paramilitary dudes. However, I stayed in cover, and the wires in my dull mind eventually clicked, saying,"Smith, perhaps this one of those glitches you were told about." With that settled, I easily sprinted by him and into the next area, beating the level. The other instance was when I was on a surface level. Following my objective arrow on my compass, I determined I should go through a fence opening. But every time I got within ten feet of said fence, I would die without warning. Passing this off as a glitch, I trie it a few more times in the hopes the game would work itself out. When it didn't, I backtracked and dicovered I was going the wrong way and kept walking into a radiation zone. Go me. Other than that, I had a blast. Your enemies are few but fun, and consist of mutated rat creatures, mutated.....meerkat creatures I guess, that use tunnels, spawn constantly and are ANNOYING AS HELL, to the flying creatures reffered to as, "demons" that plague you on the surface, to hulking, ape-like, fittingly named librarians, creatures in the library level that will not attack you as long as you keep eye contact, stay a modest distance from them, and don't attack. Keep that up, and eventually they'll just leave, and if you move to the next area quickly you won't have a problem with them. Or if you're an impatiens bastard like me, you can go in with zero intention of being anybody's bitch. Just be prepared for a fight. You also fight amoeba like creatures, run from floating, indestructible electricity balls called "anomalies" (another thing that's never really explained) that instakill anything near them in the tunnels, fight post apocalyptic Nazi's and Communists when they're not fighting each other, and run like hell from the aforementioned Dark ones in some badass dream sequences. (Think F.E.A.R. kinda.) Also, in the shooting aspect, you have, "dirty rounds" which are more common but less powerful, and "military rounds, which are rare but more powerful. However, they also function as the currency of the game. But this aspect, I feel was a bit downplayed. The selection of weapons is modest at best, and most of the weapons on sale at shops are basically the same ones with a few peripheral attachments like bayonets or scopes. I was only really compelled to buy a few medkits here and there because I knew I could just pick up a new weapon for free in a later level. And towards the end of the game, you'll have so many military rounds you'll likely be using them to kill monsters rather than buy stuff. Another was the surface aspect. Every time you go to the surface, if you wanna live, you put your gas mask on. Cool. But your character also sets a wrist watch, which you can check with the left shoulder button. I figured once my minute hand reached the red bar on the watch I would die, giving a sense of urgency to the surface sections. But no matter how long I took on a surface level, I never died by overexposure to the elements. Maybe if i left the game on overnight standing outdoors I might die, but that's just ridiculous. It makes me wonder why the wristwatch is even there. Lastly, there ARE a few quick time events. It seems these elements are mandatory in all action games now, but Metro keeps them few and far between and never turns them into a gimmick. You're required to do one at the very beginning to pull a door open, a few a little later to knife some attacking monsters, and one near the end of the game to keep from falling off a tower. And they are all, "rapidly hit X," not some cheesy minigame we're all used to seeing since God of War made it actually FUN.
All in all, I enjoyed the game. Elements of Fallout 3 and F.E.A.R go better together than you may think. The game is only single player and is really quite linear, but is a glorious, fun, suspenseful linear experience. Metro 2033 is really worth your time, occassional glitches aside. It's fun, atmospheric, and damned immersive. If you like FPS's, and don' mind a time killer that'll draw you in, this is the game for you. That's it. Just so ya know this is my first review and post in general so if ya see anything that need attention, kindly fuck off....I mean give some good ol' constructive criticism.
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