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Metro 2033 Preview

Blake_Morse By:
M Contains Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Ridin' on the Metro-oh-oh!

Did you know that everyone in Russia is told to head for the underground transit system in case of a nuclear holocaust? It's a completely 100% true fact and a much better plan than the old "hide under your desk and wait patiently to be evaporated" idea that they used to show us in class. But who would really want to live through something like that anyways? Especially if it's anything like the world of Metro 2033.

click to enlargeBased on a series of novels of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 follows the story of one “lucky” Soviet holocaust survivor named Artyom. Train stations have become individual makeshift city-states. Giant monsters - not unlike Rodents of Unusual Size, only smarter, bigger, and a bit more mutant human - roam the sewers and prey upon the masses. Even stranger creatures called the Dark Ones will play a pivotal role. They have powerful mental abilities that can destroy you just as quickly as they can crush you in their hands, but for some mysterious reason, you seem to be immune to their effects.

You could almost think of this as a communist version Half-Life meets F.E.A.R. Great attention to detail has been put into both the plot and the environments. Dmitry worked closely with developers 4A to make sure that his vision stayed true to its source. And that meticulousness bleeds out of every radiated pore of this game. There's no HUD for anything at all. Unlike in most modern post-apocalyptic imaginings, everything is extremely low-tech, which makes sense. I doubt there will be many rocket scientists around to make Pip-boys in a rationally thought-out, "end of the world" scenario.

Your map has to be pulled out and looked at, and you can still be attacked while getting your bearings straight. Your flashlight needs to be charged by cranking a hand-held portable generator. Certain areas including those that are above ground force you to put on a gas mask, but instead of getting an air meter, you must set your watch and make sure you get to breathable air before time runs out and you suffocate.

click to enlargeWeapons are made out of whatever parts can be scrounged, meaning most guns are the assault equivalent of mash-ups. The originals by themselves are good, but two of them pieced together just don't have the same effect. If you're lucky enough to find any pre-everything-got-blown-up equipment, you'll notice the difference.

On top of that, bullets are used as currency, so depending on how you play and how sharp of a shooter you are (yes, you are literally shooting your money), you could have all the fancy guns in the world and it won't do you a damn bit of good. Throughout the story, you'll reach moral branches in the plot that are much like those found in BioShock and Mass Effect that can deplete your ammo as well. Will you give the child begging the two bullets he needs to get his mother medicine? And will that mean you get eaten by giant mutated bats or will that earn you something useful? Or will you tell the poor kid where to stick it and be done with the whole thing?

Metro 2033 is shaping up to be a thinking man's FPS. Everything is nuanced and ripe with consequences both good and bad. This is not going to be the kind of thing you go flying through blindly, shooting anything that moves. This may even require you to ask your brain for help. Just make sure you reward it with some tasty endorphins when it does a good job. Get ready for one hell of a long winter on March 16th for 360 and PC.
More GR previews for this game:
Metro 2033 preview posted on 02/26/10.

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