Metro 2033 Review

Metro 2033 is a dark journey saturated with an enthralling atmosphere that will reward intrepid adventurers.

by

Beneath a frozen city ruined long ago by its own weapons of destruction, humankind clings to survival. In dirty overcrowded stations, women haggle for scraps at the market as old men mourn the world they lost and children run underfoot, knowing no life beyond their meager subterranean existence. The hardier souls stand at the gates, vigilant against the beastly offspring of Armageddon, while the bravest venture out into the tunnels to trade, scavenge, and scout the dark reaches of the man-made underground wilderness. This is the world of Metro 2033, where the oppressive atmosphere fills every corner and is so well cultivated that the relentless gloom can begin to wear you down. Yet your journey is a lengthy and intriguing one, full of dramatic moments and tense action. Particularly hectic encounters can stress the game's performance, but the richness of the environments more than makes up for any small hitches. The immersive world of Metro 2033 is not for the faint of heart, but those whose brave it will find a fresh and entertaining new adventure into the postapocalyptic future.

And make no mistake, this future is bleak. The aforementioned station-villages are dreary, but you'll come to regard them as welcome beacons of light in the pervasive darkness of the tunnels. As you venture away from the comforting firelight and busy soundscape of the crowded stations, you enter tunnels that echo with the howls of murderous beasts, where the only illumination is provided by glowing radioactive fungi or your own headlamp. Light, or lack thereof, plays a huge role in creating Metro 2033's engaging atmosphere. Passing through a dark, foggy tunnel can be harrowing, and entering the warm glow of an electric lamp can relieve the palpable tension, until you look down and see a freshly mutilated body at your feet. Grim scenes, inescapable shadows, and an omnipresent sense of desperation help create a powerful sense of gloom and doom. Though this world is not without hope, it is a dark one, and it can be overbearing at times. Soldiering on can be difficult, but sometimes all it takes is a worn out record player to lighten your spirits. Darkness can also be your ally, providing you have some night-vision goggles handy, allowing you to sneak past foes or position yourself for a silent kill. Lightscape is just as important as landscape in Metro 2033, because not only do they combine to create the rich subterranean atmosphere, but each is an important tactical consideration.

Though much of your adventure plays out in the subway, don't expect to see the same tunnels over and over again. Human outposts are cobbled together from scrap and salvage, but there's a big difference between a bandit settlement and an entrenched military outpost. Some areas you traverse belong to the beasts, as evidenced by chewed corpses and ominously narrow dirt tunnels. Still others belong to neither men nor mutants, and the eerie silence will make you wonder what has kept them away. And just when the endless tubes are becoming too oppressive, you strap on a gasmask and venture out onto the surface to pick your way through the frigid skeleton of Moscow. Thoughtful details make exploration tempting, as does the prospect of stumbling across a dead adventurer or ammo cache ripe for the looting. Metro 2033 rewards you for paying attention to the little things, not just with precious ammunition, but with thoughtful touches that make this dilapidated world truly come alive.

Someone needs to teach that guy how to use a bayonet.

Most of the living things that you encounter on your journey are quite nasty. Winged fiends and quasi-yetis get very territorial, while loping, long-nosed beasts stage regular assaults on humans in most areas of the Metro. Theses hideous creatures are rendered in vibrant detail, and aiming down your sights into their livid, snarling faces will make you want to pull the trigger even sooner. As you travel the tunnels from station to station on your quest to deliver an important message, you have to fend off these fierce mutants who would like nothing more than to rip the flesh from your bones. Combat can be challenging, but you have a good array of weapons at your disposal. Powerful prewar weapons are rare and valuable, and clever postwar improvisations provide intriguing alternatives. Shooting mechanics are sharp and allow you to easily utilize your arsenal to slaughter your monstrous foes, and for every time that a creature keels over lamely from a killer revolver bullet, there will be two others that whip back from the impact of a headshot or tumble away from a satisfying shotgun blast.

In addition to the always enjoyable shotgun (which comes in two varieties), there are a few fun guns (like the pneumatic crossbow/revolver), and the action is usually solid enough to make combat enjoyable. Some of your fiercest enemies are your fellow men who are spurred to violence by ideology or desperation. Using stealth is a great way to get the drop on or just sneak by human enemies, and the quiet approach allows you to overhear some fascinating conversations that add interesting layers to the world. Movement mechanics are also solid, though even if you are careful to avoid making noise, shining light, and triggering traps, your movements may still alert the enemies for reasons unknown. Startled foes launch scrambled attacks that can showcase some pretty wonky AI, but for the most part you are dealing with competent foes that will vigorously try to put bullets in you. Hectic firefights can cause some slowdown, especially when a whole squad of enemies has just realized you are infiltrating their camp. How bad this is obviously depends on your system and what settings you are running, but even the worst lurches dissipate quickly, leaving you to continue fighting for your life.

The reason for all your under- and aboveground adventuring is established early on, but the vague urgency doesn't coalesce into a clear mission until much later. Though the narrative can be patchy, Metro 2033 fills in the blanks by slowly unveiling its rich, multifaceted world. Everywhere you go, from bustling stations to lonely tunnels, you will find clues that broaden and enrich your understanding. Eavesdropping on an enemy conversation will shed light on Metro mythology, while bioluminescent flora raises questions about postnuclear biology. You glean a lot of information from just paying attention, and through this observation you create a kind of patchwork, discovery-fueled narrative that eventually comes to an intriguing conclusion.

Rats chewing on a corpse? Sure, it's gross, but that guy might have some ammo on him!

Metro 2033 is a well-paced shooter that will likely take you more than 10 hours to complete. It is punctuated by emotional and dramatic moments (a surprising encounter with a child, a few intense railcar sequences), though these aren't without their own idiosyncrasies (the immersion-busting "quickly tap E" prompt). The Metro and surface worlds are superbly detailed, and though how much of this detail you see depends on your system, rest assured that the game scales well and offers impressive visuals across different settings. The pervasive atmosphere fuels your whole experience, creating a grim, enthralling world that you feel compelled to explore. Metro 2033 is a very worthwhile game for anyone craving a uniquely rewarding journey into man's dark future.

The Good
Rich, pervasive atmosphere
Beautifully detailed environments
Rewards exploration and observation
Some clever weapons
The Bad
Occasional slowdown in frantic moments
Problematic enemy AI
Darkness is sometimes overbearing
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Metro 2033

About the Author

/ Staff

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Years later, you can find him aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent while desperately avoiding sunburns.

Discussion

23 comments
game_gt3
game_gt3

I just rated this and last light and I gave 2033 a 9.5 while last light got a 9.0. both are pretty good games because of the great atmosphere and story but last lights voice actors were a bit bad. and the whole story wasn't nearly as good. also I always had max ammo while in 2033 I never felt like I have enough and when I finished the game I had almost no 5.45 ammo at all while in last light I had 400-500 military grade and 360 normal ammo which Is a bit too much. overall good games that get a high score because of the immersion.

mixalisss13
mixalisss13

great game!!toooo low score gamespot

mixalisss13
mixalisss13

i`m currently playing this.i am now at ch.5 and really enjoy it . i hope last light fix the enemy AI

Hellequin85
Hellequin85

Free after pre-ordering Last light, it's ok, it's not great. Too linear, the human enemies just don't want to die no matter how well placed the shots are and I just don't feel part of the world. It's actually making me question the purchase of Last Light.

TheOnlyConan
TheOnlyConan

Got it for free. For that price, it is ok. It way to linear for my taste. Great atmosphere  but only as a background because you cannot explore it.

Renoo27
Renoo27

Bought this game a few weeks ago, played it for the first time last night. Loving it so far. The atmosphere is incredible, inside and outside. 

mddma
mddma

One of the best games ever, second only to HalfLife2. Played it 5 times in row, and after a short break for the 6th time. 7th playtrough coming soon. I got this on Steam, the best 2.50 bucks investment i ever made.

NoahRoalson
NoahRoalson

One of the most atmospheric and emotionally engaging games I have played, up there with Bioshock :)

Justforvisit
Justforvisit

Just about 5 Bucks on Steam right now :)

buckwild73
buckwild73

I recently got this game free for liking THQ Facebook page. Nice.

santinegrete
santinegrete

If you are into action and like Single player just purchase this game now. Atmosphere will win you over.

IamNick2k11
IamNick2k11

This game is awesome :) Original and well done! Maybe this proves that Novels - Games will work in future better than Movie - Games ;)

DarkMajor21
DarkMajor21

This is an excellent game! The only thing I have disliked is the instability for my computer.

 

HLno1
HLno1

I dont get the 8, looks like Watters loved the game

QKDW
QKDW

very beautiful game played it many times on all difficulties :)

zeusbark
zeusbark

 @IamNick2k11 Mmmm... I think they already do. Most of the best story experiences I've had them from games. Metal gear solid, Silent Hill, Mass Effect 1 and 2, Dragon Age, Siphon Filter, Conquer's bad fur day... BIOSHOCK!!! just to name a few. I think that's the reason movie based games suck, cause no matter how good is your movie, you can never put the viewer inside the movie like videogames can.

ignivim
ignivim

 @HLno1 It didn't have much hype, so Gamespot has to rate it lower.

eyehategod420
eyehategod420

@zeusbark @IamNick2k11 

Damn my friend, those are your best story experiences? No doubt some of those games have some interesting stories, but most of them are mediocre at best. Pick up some good novels or take a literature course in a time period that interests you at a college nearby. You're missing out!

noverum
noverum

@eyehategod420 @zeusbark @IamNick2k11 

Metal Gear Solid 3's story is merely 'interesting'? Perhaps you place it in the category of 'mediocre at best'.

You will struggle to find a better narrative.
 

zeusbark
zeusbark

@eyehategod420 @zeusbark @IamNick2k11 Ok Ass munch, for someone who says he enjoy literature you don't know how to read. First of all,  I was making the comparison to movies not books. and second, I say "Most of the best story experiences" I never say, my best story ex... once again, not even mentioning books. I have read many books, and some of my favorites (100 years of solitude, catch 22, 1984, Harry Potter and the Half Blood prince etc.) can't even be compared with books, cause there are not even in the same cathegory. 

ignivim
ignivim

 @Gelugon_baat I don't think you know what "petty" means, and not sure why you replied to me.

Metro 2033 More Info

First Release on Mar 16, 2010
  • PC
  • Xbox 360
Travel the subway system under post-apocalyptic Moscow as you seek to help the remnants of humanity stave off a mutant threat.
8.1
Average User RatingOut of 5333 User Ratings
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Developed by:
4A Games
Published by:
THQ, Deep Silver, E-Frontier, Spike
Genres:
Action, 3D, First-Person, Team-Based, Shooter
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
All Platforms
Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence