Great World, Great Foundation. Just need to bake in the oven more
I popped in Metro 2033 after listening to various people talk about it for the past year. It seemed to be a fairly contentious game. Some people loved it, other people seem to hate it. The game is based upon a Russian novel in which the world has been vaporized due to nuclear war. The remaining survivors of Moscow have been living in the metro for the past twenty years, scrounging to survive in a hostile world with mutants and apparently something else.
This foundation is set up incredibly well and is told through the eyes of our character as he travels from station to station looking for his friend Hunter. The experiences that play out during the travels and the stations themselves are for the most part well done and illustrate just how bleak the survival of the human population is. The overall story and world though is not perfect and it largely seems as if the developer ran out of time, money or just didn't have the skill set to finish the game. I can only presume that the novel set out a very detailed story and the story of the game tries to do that in a condensed form. Unfortunately there are several moments in the game where the unfolding of the story seems rushed. Interactions with characters don't seem filled out and there are often instances where the dialog instantly shifts to a mood in the conversation to imply as if I was talking to an NPC for several minutes. One memorable instance occurs when you come across a kid about 2/3's of the way through the game wit ha dead uncle. You would think you would need to build his trust to have him come with you, but the demeanor and dialog shifts too quickly to him joining you on your journey. Other explanations about the broader social and political happening in each of the stations could have helped the story more as well. There are also large gaps that fully explain the broader world, as why our man is on his journey, who the dark ones are, and where they really fit into the broader context of the world.
From a gameplay perspective a lot of the mechanics are there and they work, but they just seemed to miss some of the spit and polish needed. Gunplay is fair, and gets the job done. They implemented a very cool mechanic with the bullets in the game. Bullets created before the apocalypse are incredibly valuable and the player has two ways to utilize them. They can either be used as currency or instead fired, where they deal a lot more damage than the bullets created after the world ended. It makes for a fun mechanic.
The gas mask actually works really well and its management could be fun, but how it works is not fully explained in the game. It is also difficult to determine where and how you can pickup filters. IT appears sometimes you can when you come across a body and sometimes you can't with no explanation to the why.
Another potentially controversial issues is the karma system that is in place. Yep, there is one and it is incredibly subtle. It is never explained and half the time you never notice that it is occurring except for the faintest sound that you will hear in the world. Is the fact that it is never explained or fully made visible better because the player is not focusing on it? Perhaps, but that is part of the charm of this game. A lot of the mechanics are left to the player to sort of just figure out on their own. Whether these were intentional or not is another question entirely.
Overall there is a lot to like with this game and it has a certain charm and thriller feel to it that I haven't seen in a long time. It was really nice to see a change of locals from the US to eastern europe and the story if you think abut it played out in a fairly confined geographic area within the Moscow metro system.I just wish this one could have sat in the oven for a few more months to get some polish, but I would love to see more of tho world.