The year is (unsurprisingly) 2033 and the world as we know it is no more, following an apocalyptic event in 2013 that wiped out the majority of humanity. A small band of survivors that sought refuge in the underground lair that is the Moscow Metro survive still, having raised a new generation that have never seen the light of day. Now you must warn those still alive of a new threat, forcing you to explore the labyrinth of the Metro system, and even making journeys to the desolate surface. Facing the spawn of the apocalypse, hell bent on killing you, and even danger from other human factions underground, you will find little safety in Metro 2033.
This latest horror story plays out as a first person shooter, with a strong narrative. Although some technical flaws perhaps prevent Metro 2033 from being all it should be, the incredible atmosphere generated in the underground world of the Moscow Metro will more than make up for its failings. You will play as Artyom, a survivor of the nuclear war that destroyed the world. Having been a baby at the time of impact, Artyom knows nothing outside of the Metro. The story will be propelled through a combination of shooting opportunities, and dialog-heavy interludes of walking and talking your way around the locations that you face.
Although the story is good and likely to keep you interested, there are moments when you wish you could just get back to killing, this being a shooter at heart after all. However, even in those opportunities to rain fire on a range of nasty monsters, the battles will seem quite structured and won’t adapt, reducing the desire to replay the title. Fortunately the world to explore is large and any one tunnel is certainly not the same as any other, with different foes to face and pathways to encounter.
Metro 2033’s strengths certainly lie in the atmosphere that it generates as you find your way around the underground world. It is a bleak and hostile environment, with human outposts created from salvaged materials and scrap metal. These camps look like a 5 star hotel though, after you emerge from a stint in the dark and eerie tunnels. Your only illumination at times will be your headlamp, and while passing an electric light still functioning will be a welcome break from the darkness, the presence of a mutilated corpse at your feet will soon have you stumbling forward into the gloom. Although the extended periods of darkness can become overbearing, you can’t help but appreciate the skill that has gone into creating such a harrowing setting, with desperation oozing from every character and every scene.
The pace of Metro 2033 won’t bore you, and the story will undoubtedly keep you on the edge of your seat, even if it does drag on occasionally in places. With a good ten hours of play to enjoy and an incredible atmosphere that will compel you toward thorough exploration, this is a title well worth playing, even if certain technical mechanics don’t place it as a rival to some of the best shooters on the market.