Metro 2033 Updated Hands-On

The shooter based on the Russian sci-fi novel is due soon and we've got a hands-on look at the game.

Developers have been making video games out of movies for years, but recently, that trend has morphed a bit; they're now making video game adaptations of books. Perhaps the best-known case is EA's upcoming adventure game Dante's Inferno, based on the 700-year-old poem of the same name, but it isn't the only one. THQ's upcoming Metro 2033, being developed by 4A Games and due for release in March, also finds its roots in literature--namely a science fiction book of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. THQ representatives recently stopped by the GameSpot offices to give us another look at the game just ahead of its release.

The Metro 2033 novel has proven to be one of the fastest-selling books in Russian history, with its mixture of science fiction, action, and a mystic undercurrent, and the game takes all of those elements into account. In the game, you play as Artyom, one of thousands of Russian citizens who have been living in the Moscow subway system for decades after a nuclear apocalypse. The subway system, which was designed not just to protect the citizenry from nuclear fallout but also to act as a makeshift shelter for an extended period, has become Artyom's home, and each of the stations in the subway system has been transformed into a miniature city all its own.

The setting of Metro 2033 is vital to the game's narrative. When you start the game, exploring the opening areas of your home station, you gain an understanding of the underground way of life--most of the citizens have never been to the surface, and fewer still even remember the days before the nuclear blast decimated the planet. And while Artyom's home station is a safe haven, danger isn't too far away. Traveling between stations requires you to make your way through the subway tunnels, which house all sorts of trouble--from mutated monsters that attack without provocation, to renegade bandits. Certain stations are home to trouble as well--for example, there's a raging conflict between the remnants of the Communist Party and those ubiquitous (at least in video game terms) Nazis.

Then there are the Dark Ones, mysterious creatures who psychically attack their victims. The regular populace isn't able to fight the Dark Ones. Most folks simply black out when they appear, which makes their threat that much more terrifying. As Artyom, you are somehow immune to the effects of the Dark Ones, which naturally makes you the ideal person to find out what they're all about.

Much of the early action in Metro 2033 is straight-up shooter action--in one early scene you're traveling between stations on a simple pushcart and are attacked by mutants. A bit later, you'll be accompanying a rogue-ish character known as Bourbon, who has promised to reward you with his AK-47 in payment for your assistance. And while that notorious Russian automatic weapon might not sound like the greatest of rewards, in Metro 2033, the weapons you carry (and the bullets you fire) define who you are. That's because most of the weaponry and ammunition you acquire underground are hand-fashioned and, as a result, not as accurate or as powerful as topside weapons. Topside weapons, produced by machines before the apocalypse (like Bourbon's AK-47), are more powerful and significantly more valuable. In fact, topside ammunition is used as currency underground--you can use it to buy new equipment or save it to use as traditional ammo when additional stopping power is needed.

During THQ's visit, and in our subsequent play of the game, we got a good feel for the world of Metro 2033, which seems to be rich with details inspired by the book. For example, in an early scene set in a bar, Artyom and his friends toast one another with three shots of vodka--a number insisted upon by the Ukraine-based 4A development studio. Producers told us that while the book's narrative forms the game's heart, there were changes that needed to be made in order to make the game a compelling experience to play. For example, in an early version of the game, the player didn't get to fire a weapon until about 45 minutes into the game. By contrast, in the build we played, you're dropped into the action much more quickly, with a gunplay-intensive prologue and other action sequences spread in between the exposition.

Nuclear fallout above ground, enemies everywhere underground--life isn't easy in Metro 2033.

While the focus on Metro 2033's gameplay seems to be on shooting, there is some variety--in certain areas you can use stealth to get past enemies. Artyom's wristwatch comes in handy here because it has a sensor that will show you how exposed you are in the shadows. In certain sections, such as when you're topside in certain levels, you'll need to wear a gas mask to protect yourself--your watch also has a timer that will tell you how long your gas mask's filter will last. Incidentally, if you are attacked by enemies while wearing a gas mask, there's always the danger that the mask will crack, rendering it useless. But with plenty of dead bodies around, especially topside, you'll usually be able to scavenge new equipment when you need it.

From a gameplay standpoint, the shooting sequences can be lackluster at times and the enemy animations aren't always as smooth as they should be. That said, Metro 2033's rich setting and mysterious narrative look to be its greatest strengths as you explore the huge underground setting and learn more about Artyom's connection with the Dark Ones. There's plenty of story to tell--the original Metro 2033 novel has been translated into English and will be released next month, and the author released the sequel, Metro 2034, last year. Could we see a video game sequel as well? That will depend on the success of the first game, which is due for release on March 16.

Written By

Want the latest news about Metro 2033?

Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Discussion

185 comments
dann_west
dann_west

Looks decent. Always like a game with nazis.

tarald
tarald

No reviews on the release date, this will be a stinker ;-)

da2g
da2g

its comin out today! :)

dakan45
dakan45

This wil be a cod like linear game with alot of story and action but hard shooting. Just wait and see, it wont be anywhere near like fallout 3 or stalker.

raith616
raith616

looks more fallout 3 without the humour to me but if its good its good

Xeltex
Xeltex

Looks interesting but also looks a bit much like Stalker would you say? And although i enjoyed stalker it was a long drawn out and even monotonous game and and im not sompletely looking forrward to another similar title.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Looks pretty good, when the story and environment is good enough to take the focus away from guns..might be a good thing. As for the review from GS, each is titled to it's own opinion, but I prefer to check the game out for myself.

Kooger13
Kooger13

this looks like an extremely promising dark horse game. oh ya and fall out sucked fat

bunny2shoes2
bunny2shoes2

very excited with this game and the book wanting to read it see if it is similar to each other.yeeeaaahh vodka vodka

xGlenn11x
xGlenn11x

I think this game will good, not great. I am looking forward to it though because of the story, setting, and the overall look of the game. I expect no more than a 7.5/10 when GS reviews it.

Amauris96
Amauris96

The big question for me is if this game is Free-roaming or free play or whatever you wanna call it like Fallout 3? Even if it's not I am gonna like the game, already looks amazing to me.

benny32
benny32

ill be getting the book to read as well, and im interested in this game. Looks like stalker on the 360 and that can only be a good thing.

RobboElRobbo
RobboElRobbo

I'm really hoping this game is good. I'm a sucker for post apocalypse crap. And the lighting look great in this game. Just sayin'.

BeaT_WavE
BeaT_WavE

I really hope they pack some good stuff in those Fallout shelter of theirs... because I remember in their demo they said like 30% open world only...

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

I think this is the sleeper game of the year. Bioshock/Stalker/Fallout/FEAR/Dead Space Elements in a single title ='s win. I don't care about reviews anymore. I wan't to actually see some hands-on and then I'll make the final verdict.

irwin888
irwin888

I like a good story-driven game, so this might be alright.

pudgexd
pudgexd

So far so good , however gonna see review first... I hope it isnt dissapointing like a 6/10

k_oldsoul
k_oldsoul

Looks good ,it beats stalker out dated engine,if the story is good am gone buy it

polak123456
polak123456

this game reminds me of Crusader: No Remorse and the Crusader: No Regret I think I might buy this, depending on the reviews..

Jock9
Jock9

God yes! We get another post-apocalpyse/end-of-the-world game again. Like Fallout 3, I cannot wait for this! Reminds me of S.T.A.L.K.E.R

acesoron
acesoron

@cacajoe pc + ps3 = win for me all depends on games you like though

Cybrian
Cybrian

Claustrophobic, creepy, clever concept...I may catch this train...

bodylotion
bodylotion

this reminds you of fallout ? it looks way more like STALKER. The game looks pretty good but it totally depends on the story.

pidow
pidow

I think this game is going to be a good one.

AZZAMAN100
AZZAMAN100

reminds me of fallout 3, thats why i like it :)

Mawy_Golomb
Mawy_Golomb

It looks like a good game to me. A more fleshed out story than most FPSs, with a little bit of innovative gameplay, but still not so different from most games. Maybe I'll check it out in the future.

313striker
313striker

all you with ps3, read the book if u cant play the game :P

cacajoe
cacajoe

What!? No PS3?? That's a bummer.. I am now questioning if my ps3 was the right choice.. Still, I got a pretty awesome gaming laptop

k2raptor
k2raptor

i hope they put a co-op mod on this game when it comes out or maybe make a patch for co-op mod later on wish S.T.A.L.K.E.R has a co-op mod too like Borderlands where you join your friend in his game with all of what you have in your game it'll be awesome

JanMarek
JanMarek

to AdamWriter: book metro 2033 is out in english translation on March 18. Read it in russian original and got to say it's really good...

addicted2050
addicted2050

Looks really interesting. Really, really hope they don't mess it up. Even if they do, I just might play it for the story...

addicted2050
addicted2050

Looks really interesting. Really, really hope they don't mess it up. Even if they do, I just might play it for the story...

Hm1911
Hm1911

I like games that depend on story, I'm glad that this one is on pc

AdamWriter
AdamWriter

I'd also love to read the novel since, believe it or not, I am more of a reader than a gamer. So, if anyone can find an english version please let me know Adamnovels@gmaill.com

AdamWriter
AdamWriter

I just hope they don't mess it up.

RussianRAGE
RussianRAGE

Looks like Fallout 3 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. had a child! I've got my wallet ready!

mach-stem
mach-stem

@tedsini love that book :) The Road was a great book too, a little on the depressive side, but a great and short read.

farigor
farigor

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

tedsini
tedsini

Post-apocalyptic games have been around for quite a while. The first one that I can recall was Wasteland. It was released by Interplay and EA (an interesting collaboration in itself), in 1988. Fallout 1 came out in 1997, also an Interplay game, and Fallout 2 came out the next year. More interesting is that all of the games in this genre, and especially the first two Fallout games, were heavily influenced by a story by Harlan Ellison, "A Boy and His Dog." This was a short story that grew into a short novel, two sequels, a graphic novel and finally a film of the same name. A very young Don Johnson played the lead character who was a wanderer in a post-nuclear war wasteland. He calls his dog "Dogmeat" in the first 5 minutes. The tiny settlements are clearly the model for the Fallout towns. The short story was published in 1969 and the film was released in 1975 or so. You can find the movie on Netflix among other places. Just a bit of history for you.

Visa004
Visa004

too bad there's not one for ps3. but that's what makes game exciting.

Sunderas
Sunderas

Fallout or no fallout copy this seems awesome.

tjdeep_2007
tjdeep_2007

yahoooo....finally its coming in march

MidKnight73
MidKnight73

Man this game looks sic can't wait for it to release!

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

AAAAH! Why would you put it on the PC but not the PS3? If this game is as good as it looks I might have to buy a 360 for it. But in the mean time I might just read the book.

Orante
Orante

makes me want to read the book!