Metro 2033, developed by 4A Games, wants to take you on a journey 20 years into the future in a world where life as we know it is only a figment of the past. The game takes place in what we would today consider Moscow, but Moscow as we know it, along with the rest of the world, has been destroyed by a nuclear war. Because of this what’s left of mankind has to live underground fighting off human groups, and nuclear mutated monsters from above. The monster enemies above are known as “The Dark Ones”.
4A Games wants you to get sucked into the world they are trying to create with this game. They want you to play this game as if you were actually in a nuclear holocaust fighting everyday to stay alive. The setting of the game really seems to be the standout of the game. Mankind is now living underground in the Moscow metro rail system. You will have these interesting human colonies underground, where each station is almost like it’s own city-state with different laws and lifestyles. Fighting underground is going to be claustrophobic and dark, and fear of the unknown is around every corner.
You do go above ground, but to do so you have to wear a special mask so you can avoid radiation. While you are above ground you have to keep track of the amount of time you are spending above ground on your own. What I mean, is that you have a watch that will tell you when you are staying out too long. It’s your job to hit the button and pull up your watch to keep track of your radiation intake. If not, you will die an unfortunate death. Also, worth noting is that if you get into a gun fight above ground that bullets can affect your masks and you may even see them start to crack if you take too much damage.
Since you are playing in a nuclear holocaust you are not tricked out with the newest and the best equipment. Instead, you have to keep track of your ammo and your weapons. Many of the weapons you use in the game are modified weapons that were built with what was left from the blast. Now you also have two types of ammo, pre-blast ammo and post-apocalyptic ammo. The pre-blast ammo is military grade ammo that is both highly accurate, very damaging, and also very valuable. It is up to you what you want to do with this ammo when you find it. Do you want to use it so you have better ammo versuses enemies, or do you want to conserve it and sell it later? The other ammo is since the blast which is less effective since it was made afterwards and has no real value. Since ammo is scarce you have to make your choices wisely.
4A Games really wants this to be a strong emotional single player experience. There will be no multiplayer in this game since it is about the story of the world after the blast. They want the story to carry this game. The game is very scripted so if you appreciate those types of scripted moments in games like Modern Warfare 2 and Killzone 2, it seems that 4A Games wants to take it to another level. This game is not about choice, but rather a cinematic experience where you get to enjoy the story they want to tell you. Since I mentioned Modern Warfare 2, I will also mention that many people have called Metro 2033 “linear”, so once again this game wants to keep you on a certain track so you can have that core experience. Nothing wrong with that at all, it’s all a matter of preference.
Other interesting features to note in the game is the lack of a hud. They really want this game to seem like you are experiencing it first-hand, and I think most of us can agree that huds can sometimes take us out of the engaging experience. The game will have the blood splatter effect to show you when your health is down, and items like the “watch” I mentioned above will help with other things to keep track of.
Personally, this game reminds me of a mixture of Bioshock, Modern Warfare, and Fallout 3. I mention Bioshock because of the environment and atmosphere created. You are in this dark, interesting, and sometimes claustrophobic environment. You are in the metro-rail system of Moscow. This environment is something we have never seen before in a game, and it’s very intriguing. The Modern Warfare comparison comes in with the idea that the game is straight forward and filled with set pieces. They want to give you some badass moments that they can create in-house. They have a story and they want to tell it to you with great cinematic set piece battles. I think the Fallout 3 reference is obvious.
The game is being developed for the PC and the Xbox 360. People who have played both versions suggest the PC version due to “crisper” graphics, and “better controls” but really it is up to you. I think the game has a chance to be a sleeper, but there are two things I am thinking about when it comes to this game. One is the fact that it is linear. Personally, I love story driven games but nowadays a lot of people like choice and freedom, so I think this game will split gamers depending on what type of gamer they are. Another concern is the release date which is March 16th in the US. March is a very tough month this year with titles like Final Fantasy XIII and God of War 3 coming out. I’m not sure how a new IP will fare with that type of competition.
Personally, I’m interested to see what this franchise has in store. As long, as there aren’t too many scripted moments (where I feel like the game is really moving on without needing me) and the combat is smooth then I’m interested to see where the story takes us. This game may not appeal to everyone, but it is something to keep your eyes out for. They have some cool ideas when it comes to storytelling and atmosphere. Well see this March on Xbox 360 and PC.