Let me start by saying I am not your typical “Microsoft Deals With Gold” kind of guy. However, I found myself growing relatively bored with Fallout 4, Call of Duty Black Ops 3, and the hundred some odd hours I put into Ark: Survival Evolved. So last week after binge watching the new Netflix original show Love (fantastic show by the way, check it out), I decided to scope out the new Deals With Gold section of the Xbox One dashboard. Looked past the free games, the usual one indie strategy game, and the typically slightly better known, under the radar 3D platformer. Deciding to check out more of the deals, I stumbled upon the Metro Redux Bundle. The deal was, both Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light for 75% off the original price. 7.50$ instead of the original 30$. I never had actually played any of the Metro games beforehand, but always heard wonderful things about them, so I decided that a deal like this, for two games so highly regarded by their die hard cult following, was too good to pass up. Metro 2033 Redux is fresh coat of paint over the original Metro 2033 that was released in March of 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PC. The original gained mixed reviews ranging from Modest to Must Have, so I went into Redux with an open mind.
Metro 2033 is in a weird position for genre. It is on paper a first person shooter, but has really fundamental survival horror aspects. I also would like to chime in where not many reviewers have and say that deep down it is also a managable stealth based game, meaning you can get through the entire game with only having to shoot a few bullets…but that is IF you can manage stealth well in post apocalyptic Moscow. This is of course only against the human enemy characters that you come across in an underground war between the Nazi 3rd Reich and the Communist Reds. Humans are absolutely not your only threat. Radiation has transformed regular animals into much larger and fiercer mutated creatures called the Nosalies. The Nosalies are made up mostly of mutated rats and dogs, but there are a few more powerful monsters in the wasteland for you to come across, most of which are absolutely terrifying NO SPOILERS. On several occasions I found myself jumping off of my couch as one of these monsters jumped at me from around a corner, and later on in the game an entire subway area full of NOPE NOPE NOPE moments, where I contemplated putting the game down for a day and coming back to it after a good palette cleanse.
I played on the Hardcore difficulty in which ammo is scarcer and you have no HUD. The playthrough goes from pretty linear areas to opening up to more sandboxy feel where you can navigate freely to get to the last section of the chapter. These sections were by far my favorite, choosing to take a more stealthy side, sneaking under floorboards and taking out sentries with a throwing knife, or silent knockout. However, on lower difficulties the run and gun may be the best bet, because ammo is far more abundant. Being on the higher difficulty, micromanaging ammunition was tedious, but by no means impossible. Metro gives you a very interesting mechanic in which your currency is Military Grade Ammunition that can be traded for guns, upgrades, and more basic ammo. They went even further with this by allowing you to use this military grade ammo, which in turn does nearly 3x more damage than regular ammo, leaving you in the tough predicament of having to decide whether you want to sacrifice currency for more stopping power. This does come in very handy later on in the game when regular ammo caches end up being spread further apart, and enemies seem to grow another layer of hide.
When the game begins you take control of Artyom, a survivor in the post apocalyptic world of Moscow, Russia whose main goal is…well survival, and saving his home in the Metro that is currently under attack by The Dark Ones. It is never told what exactly The Dark Ones are, but I believe they are mutated humans that have evolved a little further and developed a supernatural telepathic link between each other. You have to make your way through train stations, to other Metros, even roaming topside through the ravaged remains of Moscow to get to your final goal of the launching missiles at The Dark Ones home from atop the Ostankino Tower. Throughout your travels you meet relatively forgettable comrades who come and go, however I must say the allied AI is pretty top notch during gunfights and monster attacks. I have played too many campaigns where your allied teammates shoot endlessly into walls or at foes in complete cover and do no damage and rack up no kills. Your teammates can totally hold their own, making the atmosphere of “hey we’re survivors here too” seem much more realistic. This is the same for enemy AI during gunfights, where they may try to flank you, take cover, and attempt to dodge bullets. One flaw I found was with the stealthier sections where the enemy AI could have been better. Too many times I found myself directly on top of, or right in the line of sight of an enemy and they did not react at all, giving me too easy an opportunity to take them out. The monster AI is also fantastic. Nosalies will typically rush in packs but will split in different directions to scatter your attention. After being shot once some may even flee or retreat and come back after you again from a different location or angle.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward for a shooter. You are given your basic arsenal of weaponry ranging from your revolver to personalized Metro pneumatic rifles that shoot ball bearings, all of which having the ability to be customized to your personal liking. You also have a secondary weapon selection that includes varying grenade types and throwing knives. The survival aspect comes into play with managing your suits energy by having to occasionally crank a lever to generate power. Above ground you also have to manage your gas mask and filters which need to be changed about every 3 minutes. At higher difficulties, similar to ammunition, gas mask filters are also harder to come by. The storytelling is also portrayed very well. The atmosphere is something to be highly noted. When you play Metro 2033 and fight your way through baddies, to get to a small outcrop of civilization you can sense the despair and how hard these characters are trying to hold onto life. Level designs are brilliant and the graphics give you an amazing feeling that you are in the subways of Russia, fighting monsters after a nuclear war, trying and hoping to move humanity further along. There is just a tension you can feel, that I can honestly say, I have not felt from a game in a while. The atmosphere pulls you in and never lets go, and if there is one thing that I will remember from this game and this is series it is 100% the atmosphere.
Metro 2033 is not a game for everyone but playing it made me realize why it has such a great cult following. If you are looking for a good story based game that is engrossing, with an encapsulating atmosphere, this game is a good place to look. If you want your average run and gun shooter, you may want to look elsewhere. In my personal opinion the pros outweigh the cons. The setting is stunning, however, the setting and story should to precedence over the gunplay, which is just ok.
Final Score: 3/5
- Good story
- Solid survival micromanaging mechanics
- Fantastic and engrossing atmosphere
- Good character and monster designs
- Amazing Graphics for a remake
- Enemy AI is completely hit or miss (ranging from laughable to great)
- Shooting is average
- Voice Acting is sub par
- Not much replay value
- Some annoying bugs and glitches
- Not quite enough open areas.
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