The Stalin Subway

aka: Stalin Underground War

Description official descriptions

In the Moscow of the early fifties, MGB lieutenant Gleb Suvorov stumbles across a conspiracy to eliminate Iosif Stalin using a hijacked nuclear bomb. Having gotten into the way of the high ranking militaries behind the plot, Gleb has to fight his way through the Moscow subway and several other subterranean installations to try and reach Stalin's bunker, where the bomb has been planted, in order to save the leader of Russia and countless innocent inhabitants of Moscow...

Taking the role of Gleb Suvorov, the player utilizes a varied armament - from a trusted combat knife to sub-machine guns, the well known AK-47 assault rifle or the not-so well known PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle - in classic FPS fashion to get the job done and survive to tell about it.

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  • Метро-2 - Russian spelling

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117 People (102 developers, 15 thanks) · View all

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Average score: 51% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.4 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 1 reviews)

A highly atmospheric and violent shooter - from Russia, without love.

The Good
I suppose the biggest ‘novelty’ aspect about The Stalin Subway is that the protagonist is a communist soviet officer - You step into the boots of MGB (The future KGB) lieutenant Gleb Suvorov, whom must race against time to save Stalin and thousands of innocents from a bomb threat put into motion by some high ranking militant officials who want to overthrow the father of communism.

The game takes place in post War Moscow 1952, and you must battle your way through various authentic Russian locales’, chiefly lots and lots of subways, but also sewers, the dungeons of Kremlin, and yes, Stalin’s secret subway at one point.

This title is conjointly developed by G5/Orion, and one of the reasons I went for this game is because I had played Orion’s first entry into the world of FPS, HellForces, which I was very taken by. And, yes, if you didn’t already know, that game had an American hero, who at times fought communist enemies.

In truth, this new reverse roles premise doesn’t have any real impact on the game-play, as it is simply just a gimmick, in my opinion. I played the American release of this game, and funnily enough, the voice over for the hero was done by the guy who did the Bruce Willis stand-in for the Fox Interactive Die-Hard FPS games, which in turn give you no feeling whatsoever of a Russian characterisation. A bit self-defeating, but who cares right?

Design-wise, Stalin Subway was done in a fundamentally similar style to HellForces as I was expecting, and also is highly influenced by Iron Storm (2002) which I have discovered in recent times is a popular game for Eastern European and Russian developers to draw influence.

My first impression of this game was strong, and I felt perfectly at home icing countless soldiers and exploring the gritty highly-detailed derelict structures. The level design herein is basically for any other Russian shooter, where your progression is not completely linear, that is, there will be quite a few avenues you could potentially explore.

So moreover, you could go in a direction which quickly led you to the point of an exit, or otherwise if you went in another direction, you would have to fight more soldiers until you eventually found where you are supposed to go. Of course, objectives are outlined to accomplish, some examples include - finding a power supply to bring an elevator online, or tracking down a guard with a key to an off-limits area.

Though quite often, you will have to find some secret entrance, ladder, stairwell, or similar means of progression. Of course the level structure is quite differently styled as opposed to Western shooters, but I would say as far as Russian entries go, though I have personally played many, this one shouldn’t prove too difficult for someone foreign to this type of design.

What interested me most about Stalin Subway is simply the positively bizarre atmosphere it generates. The character models look more like synthetic emotionless marionettes, rather than representations of real people. There is many ambient NPC characters’ standing around, which don’t do anything, except roll their eyes around. It’s weird. You could go into an office, and blast some enemy soldier’s brains onto the wall, then there is a female officer standing in the room - gazing blankly, with a half smile, blinking, and rolling her eyes around. Very strange, but the off kilter mood this game achieves makes for an unmatched sui generis disturbing quality.

The game is very intentionally depressing in terms of tone, and graphically violent to the point of being unsympathetically cold and nihilistic.

There is some light interaction herein, where by you can search table draws, cupboards etc., which sometimes yield ammo, firearms or health kits - so this makes exploration worthwhile, especially as some weapons can only be found this way.

Much is made about the destructible objects in the environments, and yes, you can break ash trays, sinks, toilets, chairs, crates etc., etc., but it is simply pointless. Why is it here in the good points? I honestly just feel indifferent.

Many times in the game you must commandeer a train, by fighting your way across the length of a subway to the head car, and there will be an icon on the controls of the train which you must activate using the action button. It is very simplistic really. Enemies drop ammo and health kits for you to collect, and you simply keep pushing forward. Also, there are many crates to smash to reveal more ammo and health. As this game uses the ‘metro 2' game engine, the saving and loading are instantaneous, so the game keeps moving along very fast, especially with the quick save/load. This is indeed a strong point.

The arsenal in this game is well catered for, with the standard assortment - knife, pistols, akimbo pistols, various automatic machine guns, grenades’ RPG and so on. The guns have suitably authentic visual styles, and handling feedback, like how the AK-47 kicks up when firing for extended periods. The PTRS-41 antitank weapon, which as far as I know has never been included in a shooter, is quite an interesting inclusion, with stopping power to spare. Frag em’ up, baby!

Probably one of the toughest and most memorable parts of the game is fighting through a construction site, which has snipers in tower boxes all around, and many soldiers stalking about the place. This required much defensive play, constantly moving and taking cover, popping out to shoot, and so forth. The enemy AI is by no means a cakewalk, I played on the hard difficulty, and I was at times tested.

Visually, TSS isn’t quite up to the likes of say, Half-Life 2, but the aforementioned sequence I described comes quite close in particular, in terms of achieving a similarly believable outdoor environment. The shading FX is exceptionally done in some instances, such as the water routines, which are very realistic. The way in which glass shatters, and fragments dangle and fall, is also notably well realised. Generally, the set-pieces are meticulously attentive to detail, and prove suitably immersive.

Sound is solid - guns go bang, and explosions go bang even bigger. Sewers sport hissing gas leaks, the ankle high water which will go splosh, humming generators will hum. So basically, there is a great deal of appropriate effects, and I don’t have any quibbles here.

The Bad
I actually quite liked the music in this game, and um, huh? Well, the reason I put it here in the ‘bad’ points, is that the game would crash all the time when I had the music enabled, and it took quite some time to figure out through fiddling with all the settings, that this was the culprit causing the lockups. I played a third of the game with it crashing to the desktop at every checkpoint!

This brings me to another technical issue, and that is there is no automatic graphics detection. Instead, the game provides a configuration utility, with a bench marking tool, which does a flyby of the construction site level, and informs you of the max, min and average frame rates. This means, if you want the best compromise of quality and performance, you have to spend much time fidgeting with the settings, which is so needless.

The Bottom Line
Did The Stalin Subway meet my expectations? Yes, but did it surpass them? In truth no, with too few surprises presented. I feel another Russian shooter - ÜberSoldier, which incidentally was released in the following year, offers similarly styled action with more tougher scenarios & strong moments. But for me, the resounding oppressive atmosphere, decent challenge, and some curious moments, kept me soldiering on happily for the hours which TSS lasted.

Though I personally liked this game, I must add that it certainly won’t be to all tastes. But hey, if you’re looking for a very playable fun straightforward shooter, and aren’t put off by all the coarse violence, this one may just take your fancy.

Windows · by Nick Drew (397) · 2007

Trivia

German version

In the German version, almost all blood and gore effects were removed and killed enemies disappear almost instantly.

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Game added by Cadorna.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, retinadesgastada, Klaster_1, Patrick Bregger.

Game added September 27th, 2006. Last modified July 16th, 2023.