This review consists of personal opinion. Read with caution. Also: scroll down to skip to the actual review part of the review. And as always, thanks for reading /a Taffer
You slide down the broken slab of concrete. An icy gush of wind howls past you, the force of it almost knocking you over. You stagger, your foot caught in a crack, and the world is thrown into a spin as you fall. The impact on the solidly frozen ground drives the air out of your lungs and you hear an alarming crunch as your head is knocked against a rock. Another howl bears down on you. Not the wind. There is no time, you have to move.
You gasp for air inside your gas mask. Moisture collects along the edges with each labouring breath and freezes almost instantly. Your vision blurs through the thin layer of ice. There's a crack in the glass, you realize. Another howl sounds. Inhuman lungs scream for your blood, and they are getting closer. Too close. You get on your feet. The cracked glass is the least of your worry right now. As you stumble on you hear the flap of wings. You clench your teeth and run, the world rushing by you in a blur of greys and whites. There's the manhole. Right up ahead. Five meters. Four. Three. Two. One--a shadow blots out the glaring light at your back. You drop, try to slide towards the darkness beckoning below. But something catches your shoulder, digs through the layers of cloth and throws you off balance. The world tilts again and you see a mass of dark fur and bulging muscle tear you to the ground--if there was any. The swooping attack carried you above the manhole. You fall, impact, then slide, until your descent is stopped by a wall. Above you, the beast shrieks. It blocks the sun with its massive shoulders and wings, saliva dripping white fangs flashing in the last remaining light.
You crawl away from it, towards the darkness devouring the tunnel at your right. And still the breaths won't come easy and your heart beats in a wild staccato that rings in your ears. You keep crawling. Your hand moves to flip on the headlights on your helmet. The beam dances ahead of you, illuminating slick walls covered in grime that crowd around you as you keep pushing. There's a crack in the gas mask, you recollect as your eyes are drawn to it. Better to keep moving. Get away from the death looming above you, and return to the death brooding below, within the Metro, within your home.
Fear The Future
Ever seen a post apocalyptic movie? Played a post apocalyptic game? Like, you know, Fallout? Alright. Good. Now, imagine if Fallout was the Kindergarten of post apocalyptic games, METRO 2033 would be the triple-max security prison shower room. And you are the unfortunate fellow that keeps dropping the soap.
Ah. Hold on. Don't know what this is all about yet? Fine, let's get the technical things out of the way first.
METRO 2033 is (allow me to quote) "a gripping, atmospheric first person shooter experience powered by cutting edge technology to deliver incredible visuals". It's based on the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky and delivers exactly what it promised. The visuals are stunning (albeit straining on anything but the most heavenly rig), and 4A Games has managed to literally blow the mind of this Taffer as she sat through hours in this gem of a game. The shooting mechanics were solid, the difficulty just right-----but everyone who knows the Taffer is well aware that this is not where a game is defined. At least not for her.
And that was where Metro 2033 stepped up and shouldered its way into the mist of her all-time favourites, happily shaking hands with Thief and System Shock and sparing Splinter Cell a glance too on the way.
Even from the start on, she adored the look and feel. She appreciated the dark, gritty, no-nonesense apocalyptic home of one young man by the name of Artyom, who she felt honoured to accompany on his perilous journey through Moscow's Metro and across the barren and deadly remains of the city above.
Sometimes the Taffer thought Artyom was in over his head. The task dumped on his shoulders at the beginning seems too much for the lad, and things just seem to be getting worse. But he manages. Barely, on occasion. Which is just it, isn't it. The Taffer didn't feel as though Artyom was another one of these strappin' young heroes with the ability to tear down the world if they wished to. METRO 2033 throws you together with an underdog, and utilizes an impressive arsenal of tricks to make you feel it. From well choreographed (and mostly first person) cut scenes, to the constantly present tools he requires for his survival; like the gas mask. More than just once the Taffer panicked as she had Artyom running for his life and he started gasping for air inside the mask. The implementation of night vision goggles and the flashlight was also rather impressive, along with the home-made weaponry in your arsenal. And when the Taffer found out that some of them were silenced, and that she just got her hands on a suit designed for stealth, adoration turned into love.
Poor Artyom ended up having to sneak his way through most of the Metro after that and, despite a more direct approach with blazing guns being just as feasible, barely got to squeeze the trigger any-more unless really necessary.
So, now we established that the Taffer has a soft spot for Artyom and that Metro having a fairly well done stealth element is most definitely to blame for her enthusiasm. But that can't be it, now can it.
Nah. It's not. The game also features an interesting story (... predictable as it may be as one moves along), an impressive cast of characters with individual traits and quirks, and has a voice over quality that fits it like a glove. It might feel a little sub-par at times, but as it is with every bit of creative work: Things are best enjoyed in their original form, which is why the bits and pieces of it that were actually in Russian felt the most authentic and contributed to making the game world feel more alive.
You'll see though, dear reader, if you end up trying to game. To explain it all with writing alone (and without diving into the story and particular scenes, which the Taffer won't ever do), is not going to give METRO 2033 the credit it deserves. You'll see the little details if you pay attention, the carefully crafted balance between "Abandon all Hope" and "We will endure" as you wander through the stations, hearing music, laughter and see children bounding about while death lurks just outside the three-hundredth meter, bathed in darkness and ready to devour. Or maybe you won't, if you'd rather just muscle your way to the end in a rush. It's really all up to you how you experience METRO 2033, though this Taffer recommends that you switch off the lights, put on your headset, and dive into it properly. That's when you'll appreciate it the most, and when it'll be worth every penny you spent on it.
And if you pay really close attention, you'll know why this game has the best ending (there are two) the Taffer had ever seen. Not talking about the actual conclusion part of it or how the story was tied up. Just something Artyom does. A simple gesture which sums up just how the Taffer felt when the trek was at an end, and a gesture that gave the character a final touch. It made him appear even more so human than many a BioWare character can ever be, which is a shame, if you think of it. Also, the game almost made the Taffer choke up once. She won't say which section, but you might find it and see how a scene watched through a silent protagonist's eyes can tug on heart strings more effectively than a voiced one if done right. She never felt the need to sniffle in any other game before.
In conclusion the Taffer will write a list, though she already said everything she wanted to.
Really, does the Taffer have to repeat it? Let's add a little extra instead.
The game does not hold your hand. It might have linear paths through the levels, but it will not spoon-feed you everything you need to know. It has the best stealth system introduction ever, in this Taffer's opinion.
A bit laggy on the mouse sometimes.
Needs a good rig to run properly.
As the second act moved into the third, the story did start to feel a little rushed. A shame, but something that most games suffer of nowadays. Something the Taffer's reviews have in common with them too.
A combat section towards the end. It involved glowing goo and is f**** annoying.
It ended. A'Right? That's not good. At all.