Metro 2033 First Impressions

THQ has a brand new, postapocalyptic first-person shooter with Metro 2033, and we got a first look at the game.

Unless you're a fan of Russian literature, you might not recognise the name Metro 2033. It's a book about a postapocalyptic future where the only people to survive did so by hiding in the Moscow underground system. The book has become incredibly popular in its native tongue--since being published in 2005, it's gone on to sell more than 400,000 copies. Soon, the story will become even more well known, thanks to the English translation and a video game adaptation from developer 4A Games. We were lucky enough to be invited to a special London screening of the game to see it in action, as well as speak to the development team.

You play as Artyom, who is a young man born just before the apocalypse but has spent the majority of his life underground. His memories of the world aboveground are fragmented, and his parents are absent. Thus, he was left an orphan who has been raised by other survivors. His one dream is to see the outside world, but he's still young and has never left the confines of his local Metro stop, Exhibition. You play Artyom as a 20-year-old man, who is entrusted to warn other colonies of a breed of mutated beasts called the Dark Ones that look to threaten this underground world. The physical structure of the Metro system is inspired. Each of the major subway stations has become its own little town, with the city of Polis at its centre. Each settlement also has its own social and political infrastructure--Exhibition is a peaceful democracy, but you'll come across fascist dictatorships as you travel further afield. You'll also get to see what it's like aboveground--albeit only at night--thanks to the collapsed ozone layer.

The game opens with a glimpse into the future as you and another man approach the final destination in the game. You're climbing up toward ground level when you're attacked by a couple of mutants. They're not difficult to kill, so you dispatch them and equip a gas mask to head outside to meet your allies. Vehicles approach, but you're ambushed again. This time, it's a stampede of mutants, so you have to take cover and shoot them down one by one. The horde knocks allies to the ground and overturns vehicles, and the sheer number of enemies makes your survival unsure. With your future uncertain, the game then sends you back eight days in the past to the beginning of the story as you explore Exhibition for the first time.

In Metro 2033, the Moscow underground network has become the last refuge for humanity.

The prologue may sound like a simple sequence, but it's populated by lots of impressive details. Floors and ladders collapse as you're climbing, so you have to go back to jump over large gaps or depend on your teammate to catch you. The lighting engine means that enemy shadows are cast across the wall before you see them attack you. Your map is a physical object--you pull it out and flick on your lighter to navigate. The gas mask also distorts your vision and has a dampening effect on the noise. There are lots of little touches such as these that look to add to the experience, and it's impressive to see so many of them at this early stage.

The demo continued with a tour of Exhibition. Children ran around playing, people gathered around a fire to listen to someone play the guitar, and residents got up to their private business behind closed doors. It wasn't long before we were out on an assignment--a character called Hunter instructed us to head to nearby Riga using the underground tunnel system. Along the way, we took a detour, which set up one of the game's many set pieces. Our carriage was attacked by mutants, and it was up to us to save our comerades by fighting off enemies as we sped through the tunnel. It was impressive stuff--reminiscent of the tunnel sequences in the original Half-Life--and there were plenty of dynamic moments where the enemies made it onto our carriage to kill our friends. The final level we saw was a human battle against a group of neo-Nazis who'd deliberately flooded a station. 4A promises a completely different AI dynamic for every type of opponent, so it will be interesting to see how the different combat set-pieces will work in the finished game.

You'll get to go aboveground, but not in daylight, and only wearing a gas mask.

The custom-built technology behind Metro looks like it can compete with the big-name engines out there. THQ says it's going to be a poster child for Nvidia's PhysX technology while also using high dynamic range rendering under DirectX 9/10, as well as DirectX 11 in the long term. Perhaps even more impressively, it's genuinely difficult to see the difference between the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game, both of which were shown at the event. While the team claims the PC is the lead platform for the game, the Xbox 360 version looked identical--even when blown up onto a huge cinema screen.

If another postapocalyptic shooter sounds like familiar ground in the wake of such games as Fallout 3 and Stalker, then Metro 2033 looks like it will still be able to distinguish itself from the competition. The development team stresses that it's predominantly a first-person shooter, and while there will be elements of character progression, the game is a long way from role-playing territory. We were left impressed by our first look, and with any luck, we'll get to play it soon. Stay tuned for more on Metro 2033 as soon as we get it.

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Discussion

341 comments
zaidthunder1
zaidthunder1

Its very much like Fallout 3..underground stuff,etc..

raichou
raichou

"Perhaps even more impressively, it's genuinely difficult to see the difference between the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game, both of which were shown at the event...looked identical--even when blown up onto a huge cinema screen" Do I sense bias here? I have both a PC and 360, but srsly on PC, games always look better then on consoles. On a full screen, of course it looks the same. The big screen hides the low resolution, duh. PC can run games at significantly higher resolutions then the 360. e.g Assassin's Creed runs at 1280x768 MAX (even if u do have an HD TV. this is like playing on my non-gaming laptop). PC also have direct x10 and directx11, as well as Anti-antialising options while the 360 is limited by outdated directx 9c and one DVD disc. I really doubt they look the same. OK, lets say they do. Then you would expect the 360 to have SEVERE performance issues (e.g Oblivion on 360 but not really severe). And I dont think the developers would risk that. That's y they claimed that '...the PC is the lead platform for the game...' I am not being pro-PC here but pointing out an depiction error.

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

@FDs-Nemesis True enough - yet, I think co-op would suck out the horror elements they are hoping to implement, to whichever degree.

Danzg49
Danzg49

Definitely hoping for some multiplayer. I mean c'mon, you don't mob alone in post apocalyptia.

SwedeHog
SwedeHog

The book is awesome, looking foward to this alot.....

FDs-Nemesis
FDs-Nemesis

I hope this has co-op. Co-op makes everything better.

PteNomercy
PteNomercy

Sounds like another STALKER game. I mean look at the screen shots and especially the older ones - looks exactly like STALKER.

WitteKraai
WitteKraai

I hope this gets co-op functionality. Campaigning with a friend is my favourite style of FPS play.

tobelight
tobelight

Game sounds freakin awesome. What few screenshots there are look amazing. Cant wait to see more of the gameplay. Looks safe to probable preorder this one

HAL5000
HAL5000

This game makes my short list of must play games....so I hope it delivers what it looks to become...a classic FPS adventure.

pidow
pidow

This game will probably be one I will buy.

Nobana
Nobana

looks interesting, I'll follow it

BrutalityNZ
BrutalityNZ

Finally another game with a post apocalyptic story line... that means it should be good... hopefully.

Inflamed-snake
Inflamed-snake

Great so happy that there are still some Company's that think we still need Single player so many games release a crappy SP just so they can release a multiplayer game that has a backstory. Thanks guys sounds like it will be an Awesome game.

pudgexd
pudgexd

Story Driven FPS? I hope it would be a long game and epic story =D

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Story driven games, although kind of linear, when well executed can still provide a fantastic experience which keeps you coming back for more, even after completion, main examples: Half life, MGS, nuff said! Suffice to say i am very intruiged by this.

BasicLogic
BasicLogic

A "story driven FPS" sounds exactly like Half Life, and we could definitely use more of those...I can't wait for this game!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

this sounds great, if theres one thing i love, its atttention to detail, and this sounds like it has lots of it. cant wait

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

I LOVE the honesty! They're not going to pretend it's an RPG when it isn't, like so many games today (you know which ones!) and are happy to say it's 'just' an FPS. I also love they they say quite bluntly that multiplayer is well catered for and that this will be resolutely singleplayer! If the game is similar to how they have described it, then I think it will do very well!

gamer_96
gamer_96

Love it lol just for Xbox 360 and PC

huerito323
huerito323

PS3 fans are jealous so far, I already love this game =D lol We'll see how the game turns out. Looks promising so far.

davejudge
davejudge

Love the concept bring it oooooon

painkiller6363
painkiller6363

stalker + cod shooter mechanics + creepy monsters= AWWWHHHHH YEEEAAHHHH!!!

domz_dream
domz_dream

The only thing I'm dissapointed in is how a British man can say 'nucular' instead of 'nuclear' without compunction. Other than that, this game looks AMAZING! I hope it comes out on pc. Come on guys!

DK312
DK312

Microsoft buys off every developer so they can make profit, its by a miracle that not all games are 360/PC exclusive

Dracharon
Dracharon

This game sounds awesome, along the lines of Fallout 3/Stalker (although hopefully not as buggy as the latter!) DK312 dont stress out because you cant get this game for your ps3, when you bought it surely you realised not every game would be released on it. And why say f*ck you microsoft?! Its the game developers choice its got nothing to do with microsoft -.-

DK312
DK312

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

1865
1865

It sounds like a very good game is on it's way, by the way FALLOUT 3 ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Demodrus
Demodrus

@kill_rabbit It better be gory then F3... I mean F3 has some gory stuff too, but when you make a headshot i shows the skull, some flesh, muscles even eyes popping out, but it doesnt stay... Its like... BOOM! you see a mutant falling apart everywhere and few second/minutes after everythings gone... Or it could be my bad graphics :l

azoooz225
azoooz225

unique story, unique gameplay

Emperor_Ming
Emperor_Ming

Um. For all the people claiming that this is a 360 Exclusive. Obviously its on PC as well, That kind of ruins exclusivity. As for as console Exclusivity goes, who cares, the PS3 has at least a two times advantage over the 360 in non-ported to pc games, and non-multi console games. I will be getting this for PC.

lazydogg2007
lazydogg2007

i cant be bother readin it but it looks really good can wait any idea when its released?

wavelength121
wavelength121

@Reaper180 Your replayability of a game depends on how cynical you are. For instance, even a linear shooter can be enjoyed repeatably for the experience and sheer thrill if you are optimistic and open minded. Or maybe it was the designer's intention for it to only be played once. What's the problem? If you are playing something to the point that it gets boring, it's your own fault for not spending enough time outside. Not all games should be open-ended, as the story is can be absorbing enough. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

siarhei
siarhei

Makes me wanna read the book.

FLiPMaSTa1
FLiPMaSTa1

Looks interesting..I have my eye on you METRO!

shaggydellic
shaggydellic

With it being THQ you would think if they were make this game the "poster child" of a certain game engine it would be Geo Mod 2.0 from RF:G. I guess Volition is holding on to exclusive rights? Either way this game looks like one to keep an eye on.

wanted300
wanted300

Very Interesting, I'm Gonna' Watch This One Closely.

Kurzicide
Kurzicide

@Dima2000 The game actually first started out as a PC & PS3 game. I have no clue why they completely disregard the PS3 now and switched over to the 360. Of course, you could just get it for the PC otherwise. If you don't have a good enough computer.... then tough luck for you.

blakeney
blakeney

Mutants!!!!! why do they keep ruining this "theme" with friggin mutants!!!

Dima2000
Dima2000

why 360 exclusuve???!!!?!??! COMPLETE BS

Dima2000
Dima2000

what about PS3 owners???

OB-47
OB-47

Looks awesome. Maybe its like an unflawed STALKER.

Thangil
Thangil

Looks awesome, THQ has made a lot of good games!

nesmoth
nesmoth

yeah, metro ´ll be more hard than stalker :)