The Good: Amazing atmosphere, great voice acting, decent story, unique weapons, decent length, looks amazing
The Bad: Story takes a dive toward the end, broken stealth, enemies are too hard to kill, some pathfinding issues
Post-apocalyptic games seem to be very popular these days and are ever more changing the FPS genre as a whole. Metro 2033 may not change it, but it does add incredible atmosphere and a dark interesting story that will keep you playing through this 12 hours adventure to the end. You play as a man named Artyom who lives in the Moscow metro system after a nuclear war destroyed everything in existence. Everyone is on the run, and hiding, from strange creatures, and no one can go to the surface due to flying "demons". You follow Artyom as he travels under, and above, ground to find a hidden nuclear missile silo to destroy the Dark Ones lair. While the story is enticing you never really find out who the Dark Ones are, or what they're even doing to the people of Russia. Not to mention the supremely disappointing ending that hardly satisfies.
The game has some very interesting elements that make you really feel like you're fighting for your survival and scrounging around to make ends meet. The guns in the game are very original since they are hand made (especially the first guns you get) and they feel cheap and unreliable like any post-apocalyptic gun would be. As you make your way further into the game you can find pre-war guns that do more damage including guns that have silencers etc. There are sniper rifles, shotguns, and pistols in the game as well as throwing knives, grenades, night vision goggles. You get a battery charger in the beginning of the game that makes you recharge your battery for your goggles and flashlight. It doesn't feel like a nuisance since this is a post-apocalyptic game and this is something you'd expect.
The guns feel very nice to shoot, but you have two different types of ammo. Pre-war bullets are used as currency in the game, but if you're running low on "dirty ammo" you can use your money as bullets to do more damage. This makes you search dead bodies for ammo, guns, gas masks, filter, health etc. I never really had to use the precious pre-war ammo until the very end of the game. You will probably only hit maybe 5 stores through the whole game to buy items so you don't have to preserve it as much as you think. However, ammo in a lot of places is scarce and it really makes you take your shots.
While running and gunning sounds fun that's not all you do. There are stealth levels, but these are extremely broken and almost ruin the game (thus the lower score). Sneaking through enemy encampments isn't as easy as you think. Sure you can memorize an patrol route, find out where all the enemies are located, use throwing knives to silently kill, use silenced weapons etc., but it just doesn't work right. The levels are laid out wrong for this type of thing, and you have to be so precise and accurate with everything, and this includes staying in the shadows. You have a meter on your right hand watch that tells you how well you're hidden, but regardless if your in the yellow or not everyone will see you. You MUST be in the green or nothing matters. You can put out lights, shoot them out, but enemies will come charging even if you do this. I found this extremely frustrating and had no choice but to shoot my way out on certain levels.
Using your compass makes finding your way pretty easy, but you have to actually switch to this and some times hold your lighter up to it to see it. This makes things hard when you're running from a creature, trying to maneuver your way through some maze, and switch back to a weapon to shoot. Shooting humans may be easy, but the creatures require so much ammo to take down it makes saving rounds a pain. No matter how powerful of a weapon you have some times it'll take three clips or more to take a creature down, and when you have like 5 or 6 coming at you this makes thing extremely difficult. Some areas require you to use a gas mask to breathe (especially above ground) and you have a timer on your watch that lets you know when to replace your filter. I still could not figure out when to do this right even at the end of the game. Some things just aren't clear in this game. If you take too much damage your gas mask will take damage as well and eventually break and you'll have to find a new one. This is no good when there aren't any around, and some times you won't see one for 2-3 levels. Regardless of these issues the game is still fun and exciting to play.
The best part about the game, however, is the atmosphere. Boy is this game scary! Turn off all the lights and you're in for one scary treat! Just the way the game is designed with all the scary lighting, creature design, and the feeling of being alone. A lot of the times you are all alone and it really makes you cautious and think before you make any moves or enter any rooms. The sound design is superb, and the graphics look amazing. This is by far the best part of the game along with originality of the weapons. The main character is very generic as well as some other characters, but there are a select few that you will get attached too. Having a Russian language track option makes the game more authentic, but the English voice acting is just as superb.
All in all Metro 2033 is an excellent game for FPS/survival horror fans, but don't come into this game thinking it's revolutionary per se Fallout 3. There are even some choice elements thrown in here such as helping a kid, but they are only a few and I wish they would have dwelled on this more. You should really only pick this up if you are into atmosphere and story otherwise stay away.
NEW COPY: For a certain amount of time copies will include a code for the automatic shotgun that you can pick up mid way through the game. This shotgun is awesome and is faster than the double barrel, and will soon become your best friend.