Metro 2033 is a fairly interesting game. Being based off of a novel that went viral online, the game adapts a story of a post-apocalyptic Moscow into an adrenaline-fueled action game. Splice in some horror segments and ammo conservation elements and you’ve got a rough idea of how Metro 2033 plays.
My chief problem with this game, though, is how frustratingly scripted it is. I’m no stranger to scripted gameplay. As a matter of fact, I was full of anticipation for the grand daddy of all scripted games, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, back in 2002. Eleven years later, though, and we seem to have forgotten how to make a game.
The best bits of MOHAA are all the same for most people. The D-Day Beach invasion; storming that mounted turret in the church in France; sneaking onto the submarine in the Nazi naval base; navigating the German sniper town. The joy of these events, though, were how unscripted the enemies’ behaviors were.
Throughout this generation, we’ve just been seeing more and more dilution of this original concept. The Call of Duty series, once a vanguard of innovative gameplay, has taken the MOHAA template and embraced it like no other. Almost every shootout starts with some kind of bombastic explosion or slow-motion table flip. It gets tiresome very fast and leads to a feeling of fatigue.
Gears of War is the same thing. The first game had some unique enemies and an almost horror-esque atmosphere, but its sequels are gigantic scripted affairs with shaky camera and ludicrous explosions every level to keep the octane levels in the stratosphere.
Sony’s flagship series, Uncharted, is probably the worst offender. The game will actively kill you if you stray too far from the scripted path. To make matters worse, most of the action scenes can only be completed in one fashion, like the Airplane scene in Uncharted 3.
Metro, though, just doesn’t learn from these mistakes. Some sections of the game felt like they were paused. I wasn’t in the proper position for my squad to open a door and I wasted a good five minutes before I decided I should move a little closer. Suddenly the door was open and we moved forward.
There is also one specific section in Chapter 5 where you have to guard a man named Miller from “amoebas” that spring from the ground. There was no actual indication to this, though, so I just sprinted through the area. Since no one blew up on me, I just assumed I did everything correctly and went to open the elevator.
Funny thing: The elevator wouldn’t open. About two minutes later, my screen went black and I thought my game crashed. Then the fail screen popped up and told me Miller had died. I now understood that this game wanted me to experience something specific instead of being a game.
Even so, that specific idea is lost on me. Your squadmates only die when the story mandates that they must. I was always a bit low on ammo during the game, but when I paired up with comrades, I simply didn’t shoot. I passed every section without dying, too.
There is no feasible way that playing a game on a difficulty entitled “Hardcore” should allow me to not shoot enemies and still succeed. I even proceeded to knife a few foes in one section and surmounted the challenge.
This doesn’t even take into account how painstakingly difficult the stealth sections are. I followed my guide arrow in one part and actually managed to dodge the enemy’s line of sight. I then hit a wall because I took a wrong turn. No biggie; I could just die and restart the checkpoint. Metro wouldn’t allow that!
My game reloaded me in the exact same location; I was against a fence and with two enemies staring directly at me. I was essentially trapped and I felt like the game was punishing me for not sticking to its pattern.
The author of the novel, Dmitry Glukhovsky, has stated in interviews that he preferred the creative freedom that video games allowed him for adaptation. Quite honestly, though, I disagree. After finishing this game in practically one sitting, I almost feel like I watched a movie.
There isn’t much in the way of gameplay. Aside from moving a crosshair, I can only recall eight firefights and five stealth sections. Some of those were devoid of any tension due to invulnerable teammates.
Hell, even the plotline makes no sense to me. I understand that the main character is looking for protection of his home “Metro,” but I don’t understand anything about the creatures he’s facing or how Moscow became ruined.
Wouldn’t you like to know why I’m here? Well, me too, honestly.
This sounds like an awful lot of negativity on the game, but I actually did enjoy it a bit. The gunplay is fairly engaging and the atmosphere crafted by the developers is beyond immersive. Everything oozes with graphical goodness and the use of volumetric smoke is mind-blowing.
The game was also fairly short and has left me with an itch to play some more. There are oddities in the stealth system, though, so I think I might pass for the time being. Regardless, Metro 2033 is a pretty neat diversion from the norm.
I just wish that more attention was paid to the gameplay and less on the immersion front. Its fine and dandy to have a game feel like a real world, but when I can’t progress simply because I’m five inches away from the proper spot, I think something is wrong.