Gaming Preview: Metro 2033

This article originally appeared on totalscifi.com. I was invited to the games launch at Centrepoint, which was a bit confusing as I thought that place was only for bums.

Metro 2033: Game Preview

Publisher: THQ

Format: XBOX 360/PC


With 2012 around the corner, Iran announcing details of their nuclear program, a new Cold War between the East and West splashed on the front pages of the papers and North Korea firing off warheads left, right and centre, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the apocalypse looms large in the minds of those who actually want to survive long enough to see London’s Olympics. Russian-based author and journalist Dmitry Glukhovsky is well aware of the geopolitical climate and, in his online novel Metro 2033, realised the world’s grim future as a mutant-infested scorched ruin, where survivors of an undisclosed nuclear fallout have taken to the depths of the Moscow metro system to eek out their final days. A
surprise hit with readers, the story developed over a period of years and incorporated the feedback of the online community, eventually going on to sell over 500,000 copies in Glukhovsky’s homeland and spawning a series of spin-off novels that expand the Metro
universe.

The unprecedented success led to the story’s emergence as a video game – in short, a hybrid of Call of Duty and Silent Hill – a brutal FPS that stands apart from its peers thanks to an immersive storyline and intimidating atmospherics. Developed by the studio that produced the successful S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, you’re thrown headfirst into the Moscow underworld to learn the ropes over the course of two short tutorial levels.

The controls are initially a little awkward to get used to (as with most first-person console games) but once you’ve acclimatised, quick responses are required when you have creatures bursting from vents or rushing at you from across desolate wastelands hungry to tear your flesh. Players will also need to slip on gas masks when venturing out into the irradiated overground that smacks of Tarkovsky’s futuristic vision of Mother Russia. Every set piece is loaded with detail, and the numerous NPCs help bring the visceral experience to life.

While bleak in tone, the intense fighting and crisp visuals do not disappoint, and the author himself admits that the spirit of the original story is very much in the game. A UK edition of the Metro 2033 novel is published by Orion on 18th March to tie into the game’s release, and there are already studios chasing for the movie rights – the future may not be so bleak after all.

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