Even before the game starts a player feels something special with Metro 2033. I ‘m not sure what it is, perhaps it’s just the pure cinematic’s of the game; the way the Full Motion Video effortlessly merges with the gameplay to create something seamless. What ever it is its more likely it’s the whole approach rather than just the mechanics the game takes.
It didn’t surprise me when I read that it was based on a series of Russian sci-fi novels, but it pleased me a great deal. I have the first of these novels on order as I write this, Metro 2033 has wetted my appetite and I’m eager to learn more about this world.
Perhaps I don’t need to say anything more to express my love of this game; but I shall anyway.
Unusually the game is told in flashback, and after a brief teaser where Artyom (the Player Character) climbs to the world decimated by nuclear fire to be attacked ad apparently killed by mutant beasts we awake in Artyom’s room buried deep in the Moscow Metro system.
What ensues is perhaps the perfect melding of First Person Shooter and Adventure Game, allowing for multiple approaches to each leg of Artyom’s journey. The mutant beasts can be outsmarted by staying in the shadows, or they can be fought head on in rains of bullets. Other enemies, such as the Nazi’s who currently fight a war of ideology with the Soviet’s (who will also likely kill you as soon as look at you) can be dealt with similarly. A careful player can stalk them in the darkness, delivering a crippling blow to disable them or drive a knife silently into their heart.
Choices are abound in this game, and not least of these choices are the moral decisions you make with every action.
Morality is important in the world of Metro, and ultimately the game is one of human morality and our ability to freely accept those who are different. The games’ ending is reliant on this mechanism, and though you can get through the game without heeding the moral choices there is a pleasant surprise to those who do.
Along Artyom’s journey a host of interesting characters are discovered, and though I can take some fault with what is excluded from this list, what is included is memorable and offers a broad range of characterizations within what would be the narrow personality type that would survive such an ordeal.
What is excluded is unfortunate as it could have offered a new take on the game.
Though I am not a gamer who feels that the inclusion of female characters is all important I would normally welcome such an inclusion. In this case I believe the world of Metro 2033 would have been much richer for the inclusion of such characters (beyond the literal Mother and Whore characters it contains) as both villains and heroes. I could have easily seen a band of amazons in the catacombs, women who attack men on sight as well as female Rangers who are battling for their own independence in a more inclusive way.
This oversight aside Metro 2033 is a fulfilling experience that envelopes the player in a tactile world where you can almost smell the decay. Each play through (I am currently on my third) reveals something more in the game, and allows the player to refine their approach and discover more in the labyrinth of the Moscow Metro.
This leads me to the single fault of the game which is nearly unforgivable.
It’s simply too short, even for a player such as me who does not have the stomach for long gaming campaigns. Though the experience is complete and fulfilling it is still shorter than it could be in my view. What the game promises is am epic mini-series in scale, and what it produces is more along the lines of a excellent movie; and though there’s is arguably nothing at all wrong with this movie the player is left knowing there was more to explore.
Metro 2033 is perhaps the perfect game with which an argument for more female character could be made, as this inclusion and missions based on this inclusion, may have solved many of the short comings it ultimately had.
I enjoyed this game immensely, and I know without any doubt that I will play it again and again in the coming years, but I know that each time I play it I will think “what if” and imagine those amazons who spurned mans technology roaming the darkened Moscow Metro and the brave female Rangers who oppose them.