Being a video game journalist is hella cool but there are times when you can’t play certain games out of time constraints or you just have to rush through them – out of time constraints once again. At times like this you overlook certain hidden gems and only when you go back to them – at leisure – do you realize what you’ve missed out on. Metro 2033 is one such game.
Released at around the same time I was tearing through Greek mythology in God of War III, I was quick to dismiss this game as a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. clone but boy, was I wrong. In fact I would say the game even goes beyond S.T.A.L.K.E.R’s desolate vibe, capitalizing on the claustrophobic tunnels of Metro 2033 where most of the game takes place. As you navigate the dimly lit but gorgeously detailed corridors, you take in the sights and sounds of scantily populated underground metro system. Mutants, hostile troops, ghostly apparitions and lots more lie around every corner and every enemy presents a different threat that subsequently leads to a different approach. While mutants can be dispatched by a quick facial blast (with your shotgun, of course) at close range, enemy troops can be dispatched using the game’s not-so-hot stealth system. It’s a bit broken in places but the few levels where you can employ stealth are intense.
Enter the bleak world of Metro 2033
Making matters even trickier is the fact that death is actually very easy to achieve in this game. You see in Metro 2033, you aren’t a genetically modified super soldier who can soak up a gazillion bullets, regenerate health in a corner and blast through thousands of enemies with reckless abandon. You are in fact a confused and a frightened teenager called Artyom whose life can be snubbed out in a matter of seconds by some savage melee attacks from your not so friendly neighborhood mutants, or a few well placed bullets. This makes the encounters, especially with the militia particularly intense as they flank you, lob accurate nades at your feet and make life largely unpleasant.
Another aspect of the game that I found particularly interesting was the whole concept of inventory management. You see life in the Metro is hard and unlike an urban battlefield practically littered with ammunition, bullets are a rare commodity in the game. You have your regular run of the mill bullets that can be used to dish out death but at the same time you have something called Pre War ammo that doubles up as the game’s currency as well. So do you go ahead and use these powerful bullets to carve enemies up or do you use them to upgrade your weapons at markets spread out all over the Metro. Whatever your approach be, you have to make sure every bullet counts.
Another particularly harrowing segments lies somewhere around the game’s half way mark where you have to make your way through a library. And yes, like “libraries” in most video game, this one’s spooky as hell housing a ton of super mutants that love stalking your puny butt. You could sneak past some of them while they lay asleep but step on even the smallest of glass shards and you stand to tick them off even more. It’s a stark reminder that life in the Metro is harsh as hell.
I could go on about other gameplay mechanics and other “Whoa” moments but then this would become more of a review, which is kind of pointless at this point in time. If like me, you dismissed this game earlier (for whatever reason), do give Metro 2033 another shot. It’s definitely worth your time.