The first-person-shooter genre is dominated by a small number of series including: Call of Duty and Halo. Whilst a number of new IPs have managed to break into this market, many are left dust-collecting in the bargain bins of your local games retailer. The latest attempt at breaking into this market is Metro 2033, developed by 4A Games and published by THQ.
Based on the novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 follows the events of a devastating apocalyptic event that took place in 2013, annihilating almost all of mankind and turning the Earth’s surface into a poisonous wasteland, whilst a handful of survivors took refuge in the Moscow underground. Players are placed in the role of Artyom, a man born and raised underground, as he embarks on a journey into the depths of his birthplace to warn the remnants of mankind of a terrible impending threat.
Even as early on as the beginning, players are greeted to an array of unique features that have been brilliantly incorporated into Metro 2033. Placing a gas mask on Artyom – seeing the damage inflicted on it as the game progresses and the game’s objectives viewable on a clipboard, accompanied by a lighter are just the foundation of the upcoming pinnacle that is the remainder of the adventure.
Throughout the player’s undertaking through the Moscow underground, they will encounter a number of enemies, mostly animal-like creatures - mutated as a result of the poisonous wasteland. However, enemies don’t appear as much as regular first person shooter players might have hoped for - with players only having to fight off small numbers of enemies, rather than larger influxes often associated with the genre. Nevertheless, this allows for a much stronger emphasis on the game’s narrative.
The narrative is easy to follow with players working their way through the subway and various landscapes checkpoint by checkpoint, locating fellow survivors and members of the underground community. Furthermore, the narrative also features a number of dream sequences and hallucinations, a common occurrence throughout. Whereas this isn’t a particularly unique feature, they have been implemented to a great extent, having proved ineffective in many titles previously. One particular dream sequence that stands out consists of Artyom walking through an abandoned park, which appears to come to life with children playing on the formerly run-down swings and slides, all with the colour fully restored. Nonetheless, players return to the harsh reality of Moscow’s current state. Moments like this make Metro 2033 an outstanding single player experience that will have players hooked until the end.
Metro 2033 features your traditional arsenal of weapons, including pistols, shotguns, assault rifles and knives – each of which becomes a necessity at certain points throughout the game. Regrettably, there’s nothing new or particularly unique about any of the weapons evident, despite many of them being upgradeable and, even then, the weapon variety could have been improved.
Similarly, rather than the more traditional method of money, players use gold bullets as a currency, which players are able to spend at the game’s markets which appear quite frequently inside the inhabited areas that have been created amongst the underground tunnels. Whilst the idea is a good one, it’s the execution of this idea that lets it down. Obtaining the gold bullets is quite difficult, with most of them coming from in-game characters and upon discovery, leaving players little money to purchase new items and upgrades.
On completion of the eight to ten hour campaign comes another of the game’s problems. Whilst the campaign’s core gameplay and narrative elements justify a thoroughly enjoyable playthrough, there isn’t anything convincing players to do so again, which is where the lack of replayability comes in. With the campaign only featuring one path to follow, the campaign remains identical on any successive playthrough and the exclusion of multiplayer isn’t ideal.
On the other hand, what’s evident in Metro 2033 is that it has been superbly developed. Graphically, the game rates highly featuring vast detail and texturing throughout. The audio is to the same standard as the graphics, ensuring players have a reason to turn up the speakers to high volume. The two combined contribute to the highly atmospheric tension that Metro 2033 manages to create, which will have players checking over their shoulders at regular intervals.
To conclude, Metro 2033 is a fine attempt at a first-person shooter. Whilst the title suffers from a number of problems in terms of replayability and the odd poorly-executed feature, the game on the whole has been fantastically-developed and well-scripted throughout. If you’re looking for something different from the usual Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty titles, then Metro 2033 is definitely one to consider.