|“||Fear the light. Fear the dark. Fear the future.||„|
— Original tagline
Metro 2033 is a linear shooter taking place in the Post-Apocalyptic Metro System of Moscow, 20 years after the devastating World War III. In-game, the player takes control of a man named Artyom who must make his way through the militant, mutated, and paranormal dangers of the dark metro, if he is to save his home station from a new mutant threat coming from the the surface.
First and foremost a First Person Shooter, along the journey the player must use a multitude of post-apocalyptic themed weaponry to kill a wide variety of enemies. Combat is mostly split between two forms, that of shootouts with human renegades belonging to the Moscow Metro's various militant factions - and that of gunplay with ferocious mutated creatures that hunt and close in on Artyom for tense moments of close range combat. Weapons in this game mainly consist of makeshift and crude, yet effective weapons. Survival is a main theme of the game, and while danger is always around the corner, the scavenging and conservation of ammunition in and between moments of combat become vital. The game has several types of ammunition that mostly fall into two categories: the regular rounds, which are dirty bullets made in the metro, and military-grade rounds, which were manufactured before the war. These military grade rounds not only unleash higher damage output but also serve as the game's currency for when Artyom is purchasing items in many of the game's safe stations. This requires the player to make smart decisions as to when, where, and how they use their ammo and also when to prepare their ammo.
Metro 2033 uses a very limited heads up display (HUD) element to keep to a more "realistic" and "immersive" experience. Rather than use a health bar, blood splatters on the screen indicate how much damage is being inflicted on Artyom, and his gas mask will fog up in radioactive zones, hinting Artyom as to how long until a new filter is required. In order to survive, the player must constantly be aware of the game's subtle indicators. Artyom must use a wrist watch to know how long he can use filters for, or when the player needs to check their heading, they must check a compass.
The game is narratively driven, in that at all times the player is seeking to progress through the game's level to reach a new segment of the game's story. The game, however, features two endings that are given to the player based upon a hidden system of Moral Points, which subtly reward players for acting out altruistically or with curiosity - often times without them even realizing it. In this way stealth similarly, plays an important role in gameplay. Due to the fact that Artyom is frequently outnumbered or, later on, by himself, nearly all human-based levels feature alternate routes that can be used to sneak past enemies, and preserve not just ammunition, but enemy lives. If Artyom does not shed blood needlessly, the player is likely to be rewarded.
Journey of Artyom
|“||If it's hostile - you kill it.||„|
The story is told in the style of a first person narrative story, by a much older Artyom (protagonist) as he records his story on an antique typewriter years after his grand journey.
The story opens with Artyom, an orphaned Russian man born just days before the world was destroyed "in the wake of nuclear fire", is accompanied by a man named Miller on a journey to the near uninhabitable surface to destroy the dark ones. Miller, who is within a faction of soldiers known as the "rangers", serves as an instructor to the player during the opening sequence. As they arrive on the surface the group links up with two rangers that are equipped with a re-purposed truck. Within minutes the group is ambushed by hundreds of "watchers" - large, rat-like mutants born of the atomic radiation, biological weaponry, and chemical disasters which befell the earth. Not long afterwards, a swarm of large mutant bats known as "demons" attacks them. During the battle the car is destroyed, both unnamed rangers are killed, and Artyom is seemingly killed by a dive-bombing demon.
The scene then abruptly shifts to a scene 8 days earlier in which Artyom is awoken back in his home Metro station called Exhibition. In Exhibition, Artyom and his adopted father Alex travel through the station's hospital where they learn of a battalion's fate after a battle with a mysterious new mutant species, the dark ones. Shortly afterwards they meet up with Hunter, another of the rangers. Shortly after Hunter enters Exhibition though, it is attacked by a wave of mutants called nosalises. After successfully defending the Exhibition against small waves of these mutant creatures, Alex confesses his suspicions that the true threat to humanity's continued -and arduous- survival are the dark ones. Right before Hunter leaves to battle the dark ones on his own, he hands Artyom his ranger token and orders him that, if Hunter does not return, to present the token to Miller in the far off station of Polis and inform him of the turn of events. It is this quest that guides Artyom through most of his story, as Hunter indeed fails to return and is presumed dead. And thus, the journey begins.
After leaving Exhibition and arriving at the nearby station, Riga, Artyom meets a drifter called Bourbon. Bourbon offers to give Artyom his Kalash if he helps him get through the tunnels towards Dry Station. After some dangerous trips through the Metro and on the surface, Artyom and Bourbon reach Dry, where Bourbon is captured by bandits. While Artyom attempts to rescue him, Bourbon is killed by the Bandit leader, and vice versa. Almost immediately, however Khan, a ranger associate appears and guides Artyom from this point on.
Khan guides Artyom through some of the more dangerous levels of the Metro, places inhabited by anomalies, an alien and dangerous phenomena, and exceedingly dangerous ghosts, people who have died in the past but cannot pass over... After getting through the tunnels, Khan instructs Artyom to go to the Armory alone, where he will meet Khan's friend Andrew.
Upon reaching the Armory, Artyom is captured by Communist soldiers but escapes with the assistance of an unnamed man. As Artyom is running for his life, he falls off a bridge and is grabbed and pulled into a hut by Andrew. Andrew then smuggles Artyom out of the Armory, and onto the front line of the Nazis and Communists.
Artyom must fight his way through the front lines, through both Nazi and Communist soldiers; after fighting his way through though, he is captured by the Nazis. The Nazis prepare to execute Artyom, but before they can, Ulman and Pavel, both being rangers, appear, and kill the Nazis. Artyom presents Hunter's token and Ulman tells Pavel to take Artyom to Polis and to meet up with him later.
Pavel and Artyom steal an armoured railcar, and attempt to pass through the Nazi patrols, presenting themselves as Nazis. They are discovered and are chased down the Metro tunnels by more armoured rail cars, and even a Panzer. After successfully making it through the Nazi barrier, the two jump into another smaller trolley, and proceed to the depot. Upon reaching the depot, the car is attacked by hordes of nosalis. Pavel is killed, and Artyom barely makes it out alive. Alone, Artyom reaches Hole Station, whose defenders recruit him to help fight a failing battle against mutants and meets a young boy whose uncle was killed by a nosalis. Artyom carries the boy on his shoulders towards the surface, where he is reunited with the survivors of the settlement. From here Artyom travels to the surface yet again, and into a Nazi stronghold, Black Station. Artyom fights his way through the surface outpost and Black Station, eventually meeting up again with Ulman. The two then proceed to the nearby Polis.
Upon reaching Polis, Artyom presents the token to Miller, and (presumably, as Artyom never converses during the game) educates him on the fate of Hunter and the rise of the dark ones. Miller brings Artyom to present his case to the Polis Council in an effort to obtain their support for a mission. However, the Council dismisses the threat because of lack of resources and men that are needed for the eventual war against Nazis, and because they assume Artyom to be a superstitious commoner from some remote station. This now leaving Artyom back at the proverbial square one. Hope is renewed when Miller pledges his assistance to stop the dark ones and save the Exhibition, along with the rest of the Metro. He proposes that a mostly intact launch facility, codenamed 'D6' can be used to eradicate the dark ones with the same fire that gave birth to their kind. The location to D6 was lost with the nuclear war, so the team must set out to the Library, a massive archive where the D6 documents are hidden.
Miller, Artyom, and Danila (another ranger) set out to the Library. On the way, Danila is injured by a demon and must be taken back to Polis, Miller leaves Artyom on his own to find the documents leading to D6. As Artyom moves through The library, he encounters horrendous ape-like mutants called "librarians"- quasi-intelligent and extremely powerful mutants that may have once been humans. Using a technique that Miller taught him, Artyom is able to stare down some librarians (and possibly shoot others) and is able to find the D6 documents.
When Artyom leaves the library, Miller and Ulman show up in an armoured car and take Artyom to Sparta, the first above-ground ranger base. Artyom sees Khan again for a moment, where he is warned about the path he is taking, and meets a small number of the rangers: Boris, Vladimir, and Stepan.
On the way to D6, Artyom suffers a strange vision of a ranger, and then a dark one in a doorway made of metal bars which walks backwards, seemingly towards the sun, while proclaiming a message of peace. Not the first of which but the most vivid vision Artyom sees. After the vision, the results of which are ambiguous and varied on the player's choice to follow or run away, a small horde of nosalises attack the rangers. After the short incursion and the rangers escape an Anomaly to resume the journey to D6, during which, Boris and Stepan are killed. After reaching D6, the remaining rangers start searching for the missile command centre. After finding it, they realize they need to activate the reactor to gain sufficient power to launch the missiles. Miller and Artyom proceed to the basement where the reactor is. Here they meet the "biomass", a giant, hideous mutant that has attached itself to the reactor. Artyom has to manually pull the fuel rods from the reactor using a crane, after doing so, Miller and Artyom leave the injured biomass, agreeing they will return later to finish it off. Together Artyom and Miller take the missile guidance system to the surface and prepare the launch of the missiles.
At this point a small jump forward takes place, bringing the player back to the ending sequence of the prologue, now with the story up to it now in detail. Miller saves Artyom from a demon and, from this point on, Artyom and Miller fight their way through the hordes of watchers, towards OstankinoTower. Reaching the tower they start to climb. At the top Miller is injured by a demon and leaves Artyom to ascend the rest of the way. Alone, once again - or so he thinks, Artyom reaches the top of the tower and installs the guidance system to burn the dark ones off the face of the earth. It is then that the dark ones attempt to stop him.
The last level of the game, Ethereal, takes place in a strange landscape, deep within Artyom's subconscious. Artyom must evade the projections of several dark ones and make it to the end of a maze and a long stretch of void. At the end, however, he has a vision of Hunter, who tosses Artyom a revolver and repeats the ranger's Codex: "If it's hostile, you kill it." Artyom turns around and fires the revolver at an incoming Dark One who pleads for Artyom to stop. As the dark ones fall to the floor Artyom awakens.
From this point on, one of two endings will be portrayed, depending on the moral choices the player has made during the game. The canonical ending is for Artyom to let the dark ones be destroyed by the missiles, thinking wistfully about humanity's role in the world and the meaning behind the dark ones' visions.
However if the player accumulated enough good moral points, then they have a choice in the matter, to just sit back and watch the show, or destroy the missile beacon. If Artyom destroys the missile beacon, the dying Dark One at his feet (the one Artyom shot earlier in his vision) mutters "..we want peace.." and the ending cinematic is played. This secondary ending has the guidance system falling off the tower, smashing to the ground, and Artyom realizing that the dark ones wanted only to reach out to humanity and make peaceful communications.
Metro 2033 received generally positive reviews, scoring 81/100 and 77/100 on Metacritic for the PC and Xbox 360 versions respectively. Some reviewers, however, gave mixed reviews mainly on lacklustre combat sequences, poor AI and glitches on the Xbox 360 and unfair deaths. However, many praised its story and setting, saying that "the atmosphere was spot on" and that the levels of the game were well designed. Many were also satisfied with the Russian dub in the game which gave it a more realistic touch, due to the circumstances and the location the game takes place in. The game has generally received more positive reactions from fans rather than critics and has gathered a cult following ever since. A sequel to Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light, was released in May 2013. The game is completely unrelated to the novel, Metro 2034, although the development team has collaborated with Dmitry Glukhovsky for the story, frequently hinting it is most probably related to Metro 2035.
Metro 2033 was remade, along with Metro: Last Light for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Metro 2033 Redux was released on the 26th of August 2014 for the US and the 29th for the EU with its Metro Last Light Redux companion. The Redux version is different from the original Metro 2033 in many ways, thus it can be treated as a new game. Including that some levels are linked by adding parts that were never there to link them and by modifying the graphic supremely.
Metro 2033 was planned to be more open world and 'STALKER-esque' according to an early design document. Artyom would have been able to cut through any number of stations on his way to Polis during which he could take up various side-quests and "mini-games". Why they decide to opt for a much more linear approach isn't too clear.It should be noted though that the developers did mention in one of their early interviews, right before Metro 2033's launch, that their engine was up to the task for creating an open world game but that they didn't want to be stuck in another long development cycle (not very unlike their work with Shadow of Chernobyl) while technology advanced and left them far behind the curve.
A year before the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, members of GSC Game World, left the company in order to create the company 4A Games, most notably Oles' Shiskovtsov and Aleksandr Maksimchuk. The game uses the multi-platform 4A Engine. The 4A Engine features Nvidia PhysX support, enhanced AI, DirectX 11 and a console SDK for Xbox 360. There has been dispute over the fact that Metro 2033 might be using some of the same resources as Shadow of Chernobyl, but no evidence has been presented to confirm these suspicions