Metro 2033 Xbox 360 Review

I make my way from the frozen surface of what is left of the city of Moscow, and cautiously approach the concrete entrance to what appears to be a Nazi camp. Crouching in the shadows, I reload my bastard Carbine and switch out my dirty bullets for military grade ammo.I could save my military grade and buy more ammo back at base but I can feel a fight coming.  I carefully make my way down a narrow hallway, avoiding a patch of broken glass that the enemy has laid down to alert them to enemy presence.  As I edge closer to a source of light, I hear laughing and people speaking in a foreign dialect, so I switch to my throwing knives and crouch in the doorway, still concealed in the shadows.  I see two soldiers sitting around a small campfire – good, my presence is still unknown.  I slip around the corner taking careful aim and nailing both of them with throwing knives to the head, then quickly search the corpses for ammo and extra weapons before destroying the light source; thus concealing myself in darkness.  After clearing out several more rooms, I save and reload the level.  This time I equip my acog sighted AK-47 and carelessly walk through the glass, instantly alerting the guards in the next room. Both guards run around the corner with weapons raised, so I give them two long bursts to the chest and they go down without much struggle.

The ability to tackle scenarios in 4A Games adaptation of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s post-apocalyptic novel, Metro 2033, in several ways, and the ability  to determine how the player progresses through the rather linear campaign is a superb feature.  You play as Artyom, a survivor of the nuclear war that has cast Russia, and presumably the rest of the world, into a post-apocalyptic world that is run amok with mutants as well as groups of bandits and Nazis terrorizing those left.  Civilians have taken to the vast subway systems of Moscow as shelter from these terrors, though this safe haven is threatened when Artyom learns from a man known as Hunter, of a strange group of creatures known as the dark ones that threaten his particular haven.  Hunter says that survivors from another station will help him and this casts Artyom off on a journey to try and save his fellow Metro dwellers.  The game has players traverse deteriorating metro and sewer systems, and venture above ground to explore the ruins of the city, though not without a trusty gas mask.

The environments are well detailed, though the variety of buildings you explore are limited; once you have explored one Metro system or abandoned building they all start to look the same.  Even though the environments start to blend together after a few hours, you’ll want to wander around, especially the Metro cities that break up combat areas and give you a chance to restock on weapons, filters, health and to progress the story. The cities have vast amounts of detail as you see how people are forced to live and what they must do to survive.  Due to the apocalyptic nature of the world you’re living in, money has no value and you must use Military grade ammunition as currency.  This creates an interesting game mechanic where the player can choose to use the more powerful Military grade ammo, though will have less money to spend, or  instead, use bullets made in the metro that deal much less damage but are more widely available, thereby saving their military grade ammunition.

Gameplay is essentially completing objectives that push you in a linear progression, though you do have the ability to handle these objectives in a few different ways, keeping gameplay fresh but ultimately, unable to save the game from awful hit-detection and enemy AI.  Despite choosing weapons from a rather stale selection of knives, revolvers, assault rifles and the somewhat unique pneumatic rifles, players will struggle to hit targets not standing perfectly still.  The game’s arsenal has not only unreliable hit detection but players are also required to pump half a magazine into enemies to take them down. I shot an enemy in the chest with both barrels of a shotgun and he immediately fell over only to stand back up. Artyom encounters bandits, Nazi’s, and mutants, the latter being the more interesting and more deadly.  Mutants take the appearance of huge rat-like creatures that run circles around you and have deadly reach with their claws.   After every hit you take from them a red tear appears on your screen, partially blocking your view for a few seconds.  Enemy AI throughout the game’s nine hour campaign is horrendous with enemies and allies alike getting stuck on walls, standing around aimlessly or not reacting to your presence.  This mixed with the previously stated poor hit detection mechanics, can make the game feel like a shooting gallery at times and is increasingly annoying on the harder difficulty where it only takes a few shots to kill you, though you must continue to pump clip after clip into enemies.

There are supernatural events that take place, though these only occur during cut scenes that progress the story, and while they are infrequent, they do add tension.  Paired with brief but insightful narratives by Artyom, the supernatural element helps to maintain player engagement.

Metro 2033 has its share of shortcomings, though the amount of detail in environments, the engaging story and universe that Artyom lives in, make this an enjoyable nine-hour exploration of post-apocalyptic Russia.

GGC Score: 7 out of 10

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