Metro 2033 Review

Metro 2033 is based on a Russian novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky that has been an enormous bestseller in its home country and has just recently been translated into English. It is set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, or rather mostly below it. When the bombs fell, tens of thousands of Russians took refuge in the city's metro system. Twenty years later the former subway stations house city-state communities and the tunnels connecting them are the domain of bandits and mutated animals. The surface above is locked in perpetual winter, overrun with mutated creatures, and the air is too poisoned to breath. It's also home to The Dark Ones, a strange and mysterious race of creatures with psychic abilities that destroy the minds of anyone unlucky enough to encounter them. You play as the novel's hero, Artyom, a young man who has grown up in one of the stations and hasn't seen the surface since he was an infant brought below ground to escape the nuclear apocalypse. Artyom makes a secret promise to a friend to deliver an important message to another station and so he volunteers for guard duty on a diplomatic mission to the neighboring station as an excuse to get out of his home station, and so begins a long and dangerous journey through the subway's tunnels and the ruins of Moscow.

Metro 2033 does a good job of bringing the world of the novel to life. The stations are filled with people actively engaged in conversation, and you can learn a lot about the world of Metro 2033 by simply eavesdropping. The stations are cramped and claustrophobic, and sealed off from the dangers of the tunnels by enormous vault doors. The tunnels are dark and foreboding, and the desolate city above is suitably frozen and forsaken. It's an interesting world to visit, but unfortunately the shooter built around it isn't nearly as interesting and fails to do its setting justice.

Let's start with the weapons, because in Metro 2033's world weapons are not only critical to survival they drive the economy as well. The game uses a "bullet economy" in which everything is bought with bullets, even bullets. In addition to the various calibers, bullets come in two varieties: pre-apocalypse and post-apocalypse. The pre-apocalypse bullets, and weapons as well, are more accurate and deadly, and are correspondingly worth more at the station markets. Because bullets are literally money, each shot that you fire comes straight out of your wallet. An interesting concept, but it just doesn't work in practice. The main problem is that it takes a lot of bullets to take out enemies in this game, especially when it comes to the mutated creatures you'll encounter. You have no option but to rapidly drain your bullet cache in just about every battle. The lack of a melee option for the weapons and a knife that is apparently a rubber butter knife mean that you don't have any other option but to shoot, and to shoot a lot. You never really find yourself with a surplus of bullets and so when you arrive at a station you won't be able to afford any new weapons.