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Sometimes you SHOULD judge a book by its cover

Metro 2033 is a ‘post-apocalyptic', first-person shooter game developed by 4A Games. It is based on a Russian novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky and is set in Moscow, Russia. The main premise of this game revolves around the protagonist (named Artyom) attempting to deliver an important message whilst attempting to survive the unbelievably harsh environments and multiple mutated beings that are existent as a result of nuclear devastation. Not the sort of game you'd expect to see on the game shelf of any child with considering parents.

When you fire up the campaign, you get thrown in at the deep end, so to speak. After the obligatory and convenient learning exercises (crouch under this beam, jump over this log etc.) you face a horde of, what can only be described as, giant mutant rats that want nothing more than to take your body home to their hungry mutant families. You are then sent down in to the underground Metro system which is used as the last available safe haven for the humans. This will be where your quest ultimately begins.

One of the most defining features of this game is the atmosphere it produces. Any game that practically forces you to use the flashlight at the majority of opportunities is always a winner in my books. The constant need for finding ammo also adds to the feeling of being vulnerable. Eventually entering the various stations and finding mass groups of other humans is a much relieving feeling. If you still don't find yourself even slightly on edge, try playing the game with headphones on and in the dark. It really adds to the intense claustrophobic sensations.

The enemies you will encounter range from hideous mutants that would love to rip you limb from limb to the crazy humans who live by the saying ‘Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again'. The wide variety of enemies will keep you on your toes as you attempt to learn their many strengths and weaknesses.

There are many aspects and touches to this game that many people may take for granted or find a gimmick. I personally however find these to be very interesting and help give the game depth and realism. For example, the use of the journal which displays the current objectives. Artyom simply lifts the journal into view where the current unfulfilled tasks are pleasantly displayed. Also, much like many RPG games, it is possible to interact with many different people you encounter along your epic journey. The majority of the conversations you will have will be superficial, but are often humorous. Similarly, Artyom can interact with objects such as lights, guitars, toilets etc. These elements have been used in the past but definitely provide that little extra enjoyment.

For the majority of the game, you feel as if you are being watched from the thickest shadows by untold ghouls - however, the game does employ some stealth elements. On the whole, these elements are rather disappointing, due to unbelievably alert AI. You end up almost wanting to be the prey as opposed to the sub-par predator.

Another disappointing aspect is the underwhelming firepower of some of the weapons. One of the reasons I enjoyed Homefront so much is that enemies die after being shot a couple of times. How it should be. With Metro 2033, unless you are a dead shot, you end up having to empty an entire clip into the monsters before their heart decides it doesn't want to play anymore. Later weapons you find on the other handr, such as the shotgun, don't mess around. The shotgun will end up being one of your best friends. The game will also provide you with many items that help you to fend of the extreme environments and savage beasts. These include a futuristic compass watch that points you in the way you must go, a gas mask with interchangeable filters and night vision goggles. All of these are crucial in surviving long enough to see the end credits.

As with any PC gamer one of the burning questions that is on their mind before they buy any game is ‘Can I run it on my machine?' The graphics and effects of this game are rather amazing so as you can expect Metro 2033 requires a rather powerful machine if one wishes to play the game on maximum settings. This is probably due to the beautiful (if somewhat dark) graphics and lighting effects. I ran the game on medium at 1920 x 1080 and was able to play the game no problem on my three year old machine. There are many settings that can be tweaked however to suit your needs.

In conclusion, Metro 2033 is a solid first person shooter game that includes slight RPG tendencies - if somewhat restricted. Nevertheless this mixture of genres has been done in the past and has definitely paid off (Fallout for example). The atmospheric design and claustrophobic nature of the game definitely help to make you feel vulnerable which is very exciting. However, with this being the era of first person shooters, if you were to take away these elements and I believe Metro 2033 would be a relatively average game compared to some of the other big hitters in the first person shooter category.


The compass will soon become one of your best friends