by Davneet Minhas
previewed on PC
Metro 2033 is a first-person horror shooter in development by 4A Games and based on the dystopian science-fiction novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. The game is set in the Moscow underground Metro station – the world’s largest nuclear fallout shelter – decades after a nuclear holocaust brought about an everlasting winter and uninhabitable surface. You follow Artyom, an orphan with only vague recollections of the surface.
Each major subway station of the Metro doubles as a town with unique religious and political views. After a horde of mysterious creatures known as the “Dark Ones” attack the Metro’s northern outpost, Artyom ventures from his peaceful hometown of Exhibition to contact the leaders of Polis – the Metro’s main hub – in order to warn of the impending danger and seek aid.
The premise is strong and the gameplay promises to follow suit. Throughout his journey, Artyom will have to face off against inhabitants of other towns with opposing political and religious views, along with mutants and other creatures that roam the underground between stations.
To combat these enemies, Artyom has an array of weapons and environmental hazards at his disposal. A player can choose from standard first-person shooter fare, such as machine guns and explosives, but the game also allows for a stealthy approach. Artyom can set traps using tripwires and broken glass, and hide in the shadows to wait for an unsuspecting enemy. Given the dearth of weapons, ammunition, and health in this post-apocalyptic world, the stealthy approach is often the more viable one.
To obtain these sorts of combat goodies, a role-playing game-like economic system is incorporated. Artyom can buy and sell ex-military AK-47s, homemade ordinance, gas mask filters, and other items necessary for survival both above and below ground. A particularly nice detail is that locals use pre-blast bullets as currency.
This attention to detail pervades to create an engaging atmosphere. Artyom’s map is a physical object, as in Far Cry 2 and he must flick on a lighter to view it. Wearing a gas mask distorts his vision and dampens sound. Enemies’ shadows are visible on walls before the actual enemies are. Floors and ladders can even collapse while Artyom traverse across them, requiring teammates to lend a hand.