Metro 2033

aka: Metro 2033: The Last Refuge
Moby ID: 45642
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In the year 2013 almost all of humanity was wiped out as a result of a devastating war, and Earth's surface became a nuclear wasteland. The few survivors in Moscow retreated to the city's subway tunnels. But even underground, human society continued to develop in predictable ways. Factions were formed, and stations and entire lines were occupied by ideologically opposed groups of people. War continued on a much smaller scale, adding to the difficulty of living under nearly impossible conditions, fearing the dark subway tunnels which harbored terrifying creatures.

Artyom was born a few days before the apocalypse, but raised in the underground. Up until now he had never left the relative safety of the Exhibition, the northernmost station in the Moscow metro, where he lived together with his stepfather. However, everything changes when a soldier called Hunter arrives at the station, warning its inhabitants about a group of mysterious creatures known as the Dark Ones. When Artyom realizes that Hunter will never return from his mission, he decides to travel through the tunnels to the central Polis station and get help there.

Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter with survival horror elements, based on the Russian book of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Most of the game takes place underground, but several times Artyom will have to venture outside, into the perpetual nuclear winter. Game progression is fairly linear, though areas may be explored more thoroughly for items and ammunition. Setpieces include a few on-rails sequences, missions that involve defending a location from an onslaught of monsters, and others. A few stages can be completed in a stealthy fashion.

Mutants and hostile humans are the enemies of the game; Artyom can use a variety of weapons to deal with them, including AK-47, sniper rifle, automatic shotgun, and others. The player can only carry a sidearm and two primary weapons at the same time. Dynamite sticks and knives complete the set. All weapons come in different variations with scopes, silencer and other upgrades attached. While the upgrades cannot be bought individually, already upgraded weapons can be purchased at shops in the stations in exchange for the old weapon and powerful military-grade ammunition, the only currency in the game. If Artyom is hit, he slowly regenerates his health automatically; however, medikits are available to instantly heal him and increase the regeneration rate for a few seconds.

When traveling on the surface or through poisoned areas, Artyom needs to equip his gas mask in order to survive. The filter of the gas mask wears down as it is being used (indicated by Artyom's special watch and his heavier breathing) and can even be damaged in melee fights, straining the filter even more. Other tools available to Artyom are a pair of night vision goggles, a flashlight, a light-meter, a lighter, his journal with a compass, and a charging device. The latter is required to manually recharge the flashlight and the night vision goggles once their energy gets low. The light-meter, on the other hand, helps Artyom to determine if he is hidden in the shadows, helping him to avoid some dangers.

Other environmental hazards include seeking anomalies and strange, sometimes deadly visions. These visions play a role in the game's plot, and also serve as moral judgment of Artyom's behavior, along with his actions during certain situations involving hostile human organizations. Depending on these choices, the game will reach one of the two available endings.

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  • メトロ 2033 - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 51 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 74 ratings with 3 reviews)

VERY GOOD HORROR SURVIVAL GAME

The Good
Scariest game I've played on Steam and probably in my top three ever. Creepy noises and a desolate setting filled with mutated monsters that want to eradicate/eat the last of the human race strangely adds to engaging me even more. Combat and adventures are hard and only the most hardcore types should start their first time around on anything but easy. Ammo is limited so you have to scrounge or get used to fighting with your knife which only makes it scarier. Monster noises are the scariest especially when you've got ten bullets left in your pistol and no healing packs. Ask me how I know that. Heh.

The Bad
The game is sometimes linear but for those with limited time you can finish this game in ten to fifteen hours tops.

The Bottom Line
Scariest game I've played on Steam and probably in my top three ever.

Windows · by StorytellerShannon (14) · 2011

A Claustrophobic Russian Nightmare

The Good
Here is the other antithesis to the Hollywoodized post apocalyptic genre, embodied in games like Fallout 3 or Gears of War. The first is of course the more famous STALKER. While it portrayed a desolate landscape in a depressing world, it was largely open ended. The open air and sky was your only friend.

Take the horror of STALKER's Chernobyl Zone then, and compress it down into the small corridors of a Metro tunnel. Foremost, you see it in the eyes of the individuals you encounter. That unique sort of Slavic ruggedness is portrayed wonderfully in both games. But the people in STALKER were in the Zone by choice. In Metro, it is children, wives, and parents who live in the Metro tunnels. The stations are exquisitely detailed, bustling with activity.

Anyone who has ever ridden the Metro in a major city will immediately feel the claustrophobia. The metro of Fallout 3 is nothing compared to this. The Stations are crowded, literally filled with people talking, yelling, crying, each having their individual conversations. No other game simulates being trapped in a mass of people so well.

If there is one thing about Metro that warrants a playthrough, it is it's atmosphere. It is better than every major Western game, and its only competitors are other games from the Post Soviet bloc.

Graphics of Metro deserve special note. Here is that rare game that was not optimized for console hardware from 2005. At Very High settings, this game rivals Crysis in its depth and widespread usage of effects. The atmosphere is all the better for it. Audio is similarly excellent, from subtle touches like the echo of all sounds in the tunnels, to the crackling sound of factory grade bullets that stand out in a world dominated by cheaply made copies. Playing in Russian is a must.

The Bad
Linear, Linear, Linear. We're talking Half Life 2 linear here. There are moments in the game where a single block of wreckage is positioned just right for you to be able to climb it. For a game that has avoided most of the terrible trends in the gaming industry, it has fully succumbed to linearity.

This game is quite harder than your typical Western fare. Sometimes overwhelmingly so especially toward the end. The lack of a quicksave system is all the more frustrating as a result.

The Bottom Line
You play STALKER for its open world, Cryostasis for its story, and Metro 2033 for its atmosphere. In my opinion, these are the three great Russian games that challenged the West's tired Call of Duty clones each year they were released.

Atmosphere is the highlight, the core of what makes Metro great. If you are not already in a reflective, melancholic mood when you start the game, you will certainly be by the end. There is never a moment of relief from the oppressiveness of the world around you. And every time you enter a Metro station, you will remember Metro 2033.

Windows · by s p (6) · 2011

Real wastelands don't have no fancy Cola drinks

The Good
First of all, let's get one thing out of the way: Metro 2033 is nothing more than a shooter, and make no mistake about that. A glorified shooter at best, what with the whole survival thing and its fairly decent stealth and whatnot, but it's nowhere near as complex (and certainly not as big) as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., to which the comparisons are inevitable since it's where the developing team comes from. Furthermore, in a strict shootery-shooter sense, it's not really that good either.

That said, though, there is one thing that Metro 2033 nails masterfully, and that one thing makes up for any of its flaws: Immersion.

Immersion in Metro 2033 can be broken down in two basic aspects: First, as it could be expected, there's the atmosphere. You know, the ability of the world itself to draw you in.

If you ever played one of these Post-Soviet games you know that, despite any of their faults, they sure know their way around building a deep, haunting, and often unique world. We've seen it in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., The Void, Pathologic, Cryostasis and even the universally maligned You Are EMPTY. If nothing else, the world in each of these games is a pleasure to get lost in (a masochistic pleasure more often than not, but pleasure nonetheless), and Metro 2033 honors this tradition.

There's something about the way these guys put attention to every detail that make their games unlike anything else out there. There's a story in a traditional, cutscene-powered style, but there's also a story in the buildings, in the stuff scattered around, in the background chatter of the NPCs --it's all over the place if you're willing to pay attention.

Secondly, and much more impressive in my opinion, there's the way the gameplay itself is inextricably entangled with the world.

As much of a plain, linear, by-the-numbers corridor shooter as it is, Metro 2033 nails the concept of “survival” in a way no other game has in many, many years --and yes, I am thinking about Fallout: New Vegas' so much talked-about “hardcore mode”. You see, the Metro 2033 guys hit the nail that Obsidian missed olimpically (and I do know Bethesda missed it even worse before, don't start with that, plox): That if you plan on making resource management a core part of gameplay, the player shouldn't be able to hoard stuff like a packrat. What's the point of having your character suffer from thirst or hunger, or having weapons degrade with use when you stumble on food, clean water and repair kits with every second step (and even if you're not paying attention to your surroundings you have so much money you don't even need to check the prices anyway)?

In Metro 2033, whenever you're told to gear up for a mission you might want to take that to heart, and give some serious thought to what you'll be taking with you too. Failing to prepare properly means you're not surviving your next mission. Simple as that. And once you're out there, you better search every nook and cranny thoroughly, because each bullet or air filter you can scrounge will count like you wouldn't believe.

But even if you're reasonably well prepared and you grab everything that's not nailed down, resources are scarce at best, so proper management of whatever you have is of major importance.

For instance, every now and then you go up to the surface, where the air is toxic, so you need to don your oxygen mask. The mask has limited filters. As each filter gets dirty, the mask becomes fogged up and your vision is compromised. So, what do you do? Do you swap the filter for a new one so you can actually see with clarity, but at the same time risk getting one step closer to running out; or do you stick with the filter until it's definitely dead so you take full advantage of its lifespan, but then risk running headfirst into a lurking monstrosity because you couldn't see it in time with all the condensation?

I think the only game in which every piece of inventory felt so vital and downright essential that it makes you wanna think three times before using it, was the first Fallout.

Things get even more problematic when it comes to ammunition. You see, the “pre-war military grade ammo” -the only kind of bullet that can actually make any serious damage- is also the only kind of currency in this world. And that has to be about the most brilliant idea in the history of shooters. Finding yourself surrounded by enemies and going through every clip in every weapon until you're finally forced to start using the good ammo!! is so indescribably desperating that it almost makes you wanna cry --you're literally burning money with every shot you take!! D:

Now, I've bitched about ammo starvation repeatedly in the past, specifically about ammo starvation used as a way of increasing tension by certain developers I took the liberty of codenaming “lazy-ass crappy horror game designers”; but in Metro 2033 it just fits. You see, this is a world that's being slowly rebuilt by a handful of survivors with whatever scraps they can salvage. Everything is scarce and in terrible shape. There are pneumatic weapons you need to pump between shots in order to keep them in good shape, the flashlight gets weaker with time and you need to fiddle with a manual charging device to recharge it, gas masks can be cracked and broken by hits and need to be replaced frequently, the so-called grenades are actually makeshift pipe bombs, and so on. Every thing you see has this hand-made quality to it, and it's all in the brink of breaking down or running out all the time. These guys built a world in which ammo starvation not only makes sense, it actually wouldn't make sense any other way.

It's worth mentioning that those maintenance tasks require you to actually fiddle with clunky, bulky pieces of equipment, performing actual, time-consuming maneuvers -as opposed to just clicking a magic button or walking over a floating icon-, so you better make sure you're in a relatively safe spot before doing anything. Even the closest thing to insta-healing involves jabbing a morphine syrette in your arm, a process that takes a good half of a second and leaves you completely helpless during that time.

Finally, the basic information you'd get from a HUD is cleverly implemented into the game world: You can see your objectives in an actual clipboard you carry around and bring up with a keystroke, your regular stealth-game-visibility-indicator is a colored led on your watch, in that same watch you can check the remaining oxygen --so you see, the immersion is even in the most basic gameplay mechanics.

Finally-finally, one extra cool point goes to a clever keymapping system where hitting a key and holding it down usually have different effects (for instance, hitting F switches the flashlight on/off while holding it down brings up the charger to power it up). It's a great way of saving hotkeys and it's much more intuitive and comfortable than you'd believe.

Oh, and I'm not much of a graphics whore -I care much more about design consistency, imagination and a decent framerate than to whatever visual bells & whistles a given game brings up-, but the graphics in Metro 2033 are really worth at least a passing mention. They're not the kind of creative stuff I personally like, but they're fairly impressive nonetheless, looking seven kinds of pretty even at the lowest settings, and running relatively smooth on any halfway decent gaming computer.



The Bad
So, the survival mechanic is so good it makes up for the game's otherwise simplistic gameplay, its small, linear maps and even its rather lacking shooting --but still, a game so immersive would've been served wonderfully by more complex interactions with NPCs (and maybe a sidequest or ten); but given that we don't have any of that, then the shooting needs to have some serious work on. It's just not good. The controls handle just fine, the weapons are powerful-looking, the firing effects are good, the animation is great, in general terms the game would seem to be capable enough; but when it comes to it, it just doesn't feel like you're hitting the enemies (something that's especially noticeable when using melee attacks).

Metro 2033 is said to have been developed primarily for the PC, but, to put it bluntly, the shooting feels like a console port. Mind you, it is much lees consoley than the likes of, say, BioShock and Halo, but it's still way too consoley for my taste.

For me, Half-Life 2 set the bar for what a shooter should feel like, and anything that doesn't match that mark gets and F. Period.

The HUD-less gameplay is one of Metro 2033's greatest ideas, especially the way the information was integrated in the very world, but I think they should have gone even further with it than they did: There's still some info text being superimposed on the screen that should've also been integrated into the world somehow --specifically: ammunition count, remaining filters and morphine syrettes.

Furthermore, there actually is a somewhat perplexing, traditional-ish inventory screen that feels out of place, redundant, immersion-breaking, and, worst of all, completely useless: The only time you see it is when you switch weapons using the mousewheel instead of the designated hotkeys, but it just shows up for about a second; so even if you do want to give it any use, it's uncomfortable to access and completely impractical.

Speaking of stuff that doesn't belong, the unarguable awesomeness of the graphics take a pretty serious blow when it comes to human faces. They all have this strange, blank expression that looks all the worse with the unbelievably white eye sclera that everyone in this post-apocalyptic world has. Seriously, these people's eyes are almost fluorescent. It's like they got porcelain eyes implanted or something.

Finally, most of the enemies (this is, the mutants) are really nicely designed with some specific details here and there that made some of them particularly terrifying (there are a couple of flapping mouths that are bound to haunt your dreams for some time), but there is one awful exception: The amoebas.

Amoebas show up about two levels before the ending, and they're these translucent blobs that come out of some organic growths on the walls and floors and creep towards people, exploding on contact, making a big, deadly mess and whatnot.

These creatures are so incredibly annoying to fight, crappy in terms of design and simply generally useless to the game, that I can't understand how did they ever got a greenlight during playtesting. I refuse to believe there is even one person in the world that would go through the amoebas level and wouldn't think the whole thing should've been scrapped in alpha --while cursing like a deranged maniac too, because, man, are these things f'ing infuriating.

The Bottom Line
So there you have it. Metro 2033 is a basic but deeply atmospheric shooter in which immersion is not just painted on the walls, so to say, but in fact it's deeply tied in every gameplay aspect.

It's been many many years since I played a game in which each single bullet is so valuable that you might as well give them personal names, and I don't remember whether I ever played a game that managed to have such limitation make so much sense. These guys took the concept of “survival” and cranked the knob all the way up, and I'll just go with it. Metro 2033 is punishing like you wouldn't believe, but, oddly enough, it's incredibly enjoyable precisely because of that.

If you care about immersion, you need to play this. If you want to see just how far the concept of “surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland” can go, you need to play this. If you often find yourself complaining about how games have become insultingly easy in these days, you SO need to play this.

Metro 2033 has its share of flaws, you may even come up with some I missed or I didn't care to list, but just the uniqueness of the experience makes it all worth it. Simply put, they just don't make them like this anymore.

Windows · by Slug Camargo (583) · 2011

Discussion

Subject By Date
Which difficulty should I play on? chirinea (47510) Jun 3, 2013

Trivia

Weapons

The name for the fictitious homemade air rifle that serves as a stealth weapon is "Tihar," from the word тихо (tiho, quiet). Tihar means thus "something that quiets the enemy down." In much the same way, other Russian weapons have slang names, such as the VSS sniper rifle with a built-in suppressor, which is called Винторез (Vintorez, "thread cutter") since its accuracy and other characteristics are so excellent. Another example is the the OTs-21 subcompact pistol, known as Малыш (Malysh, kid, little boy).

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Game added by Sicarius.

OnLive added by firefang9212.

Additional contributors: Kabushi, 88 49, oct, Patrick Bregger, Max Tikhonov, Starbuck the Third, GTramp, Kennyannydenny.

Game added May 2, 2010. Last modified January 21, 2024.