Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Metro 2033 review
Developed by 4A Games
Published by THQ
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
By Wilhelm Andrews
Forget post-nuclear annihilation.
Forget the relentless onslaught of mutant rats of unusual size.
Your REAL test in Metro 2033 is getting past all the game glitches.
Glitch. Reload. Glitch. Reload. Glitch. Reload.
Forget finding a gas mask and extra air canisters. Forget figuring out which high-powered gun to pick up or buy, and forget about trying to figure out which shell goes to which weapon (much less how to use those shiny throwing sticks.)
Your REAL answers can be found with Google, and in certain forum entries at www.gamefaqs.com or gamespot.com. You'll refer to them often. I even found a video walkthrough on YouTube.
In the first glitch, I got stuck at Market Station. Your traveling companion, Bourbon ("Booh-Ben" in Russian, apparently), tells you to get filters (never says just how many, apparently just one will do - but I found a few more would have come in handy later). When you find him a few minutes later in a doorway, he tells you "you know the way" to the surface, then never moves again. Tried talking to every single person down there to get around this glitch. No luck.
Glitch spoiler: Get a filter, talk to Bourbon and as he talks walk toward the turnstiles and the soldiers behind it. When your journal updates, go through the turnstiles and you're about to get to the surface. (This hint comes thanks to one of the many forum entries listed in a Google search.) Or ... quit the game and reload the last checkpoint and see if that works for you.
My very first glitch came a few steps earlier than this last one, and was more a case of user error. My gas mask filter clogged up just before seeing the "demon" at the gate. Ran that one 2-3 times before finding a mask that worked long enough to live through the "dream" sequence and pull Bourbon back from the gate.
In two other glitches, I got killed and reloaded to the last checkpoint. My gas mask stayed on. No matter how many times I hit the "G" key, it wouldn't come off. Finally, after getting killed while messing with the mask, I reloaded and it was off again. The second bona fide glitch came during a firefight inside a building with those giant mutant rats. After getting killed, again, and reloading, my "W" (walk) key was stuck. Kept bumping into the walls until I realized I had to hit the "D" key to stop it. Not without getting killed repeatedly by yet more of those giant mutant rats.
Now, this next thing isn't so much a glitch as a programmer's nit to pick.
At one point, first noticed during a relentless rat attack, I looked down and the graphics rendering seemed to break down into basically line drawings. It reminded me of that A-Ha video Take on Me from the early days of MTV. (Seth MacFarlane spoofs it on Family Guy with Chris in a grocery store, if you don't remember the original.)
I'd taken out my Nvidia card because World of Warcraft doesn't exactly support it, and replaced it with an ATI of a fairly decent caliber some time back. It works, but maybe it doesn't work the way it really ought to, because of that? Metro 2033, after all, is specifically designed for Nvidia. Maybe that's why the PC version's gameplay, through Steam, seems a bit jerky on my machine. When you're trying to survive giant mutant rats, you don't want your point-of-view jumping all over the place.
Even so, the overall experience is excellent, for what it is.
One online reviewer suggested it harkens back to that pioneer first-person shooter, Wolfenstein 3-D. I'd buy that comparison. Maybe even throw in a little Duke Nukem, but without the humor. (This is a grim story, maybe Doom would be a better comparison.)
Out in the radioactive world, you feel like you're underwater. And every crack from each rat attack ratchets up your nerves as time runs out on your air filter. Underground, in Moscow's Metro system, the shadows and ghostly images keep you on edge. Maybe not as frantic as trying to survive the Left 4 Dead games, but it's still a great adrenaline rush.
The story line makes me want to read the original book by the same title, by Dmitry Glukhovsky. In the basic plot, you're a character named Artyom who grew up underground after the apocalypse. In the first few stages, you fight across the ruins of Moscow above ground, and then the action and story line take you right along to different stations on your ultimate mission to Polis. Apparently, your goal is very, very far away. I never got there in my brief, trial run for this review.
Game-ender: I got stuck trying to outrun Red guards at Amory Station. Reload after reload after reload, I finally dashed to the end of the hallway, only to be shot and killed - yet again - by another guard.
That's a wrap.
The verdict? (PC version) 2.75 (out of 4)
M4dski11z's take: I was amazed with "Metro 2033." I felt sorry for humanity - and even the mutants and how our mistakes caused all of the story, IMHO. I was even more baffled by the fact that humans were fighting each other, instead of helping one another to survive.
It's really a tragic game - nearly every person you encounter in the game will be gone - killed, or you lose contact with them.
With that being said, I enjoyed my time as Artyom. I really liked the challenge of running in the open, avoiding "demons," hostile fire, as well as the nuclear fallout tainted air that you wouldn't survive a minute or so in. Oh, I've played games with some challenges, but this one really kept me guessing the entire time.
The gameplay, on the 360 version, was solid. I am not a huge fan of the autosaves though. A few times, the game saved right before I died. Once, it saved with me on the surface, without a gas face, and wounded. Nice. However, the game can be forgiving - I found a gas mask in a nearby shed.
The lack of multiplayer really hurts "Metro 2033," because like "Bioshock," after playing it once, you may not be quick to pick it up again.
Overall, I enjoyed saving mankind, again. It's a solid shooter but the lack of replayability could choke sales like Artyom on the surface without a gas mask.
The verdict (360 version): 2.75 (out of 4)