This one is a bit different from the usual shooter experience. True, it has this auto-heal feature (that replaced the health bar at some point in many shooters) and level areas are usually rather short, but the way the story campaign is told, how weapons are handled and even how fights work, it brings its own designs. Fighting often is a hectic running around between multiple monsters, while hoping to stay alive long enough for the damn gun to finally finish reloading. This cycle then continues, until no more monsters are spawned. Sometimes monsters are spawned indefinitely and the situation can only be resolved by leaving the area; in those situations, I always ran as fast as possible through the entire area, because there was nothing to gain by fighting at all, on the contrary – munition was sometimes already scarce. Between those (action-) pieces, the game consists of running through tight, dark tunnels until the next automatic story element or action sequence unfolds. In 3 or 4 places in the game it’s possible to buy weapons and/or ammunition (and the game only moves forward, it’s not possible to return to a shop), but I never did that, because I rarely had any of the currency (certain bullets) necessary, so I completely relied on the stuff I found during the adventure.
Apparently there’s a book this game is based on, so as someone who hasn’t read it, I only had the game to get the story (assuming it’s at least somewhat identical). Maybe it’s my fault, but I didn’t even understand, why the main character had these visions. Some things I tried to guess, but there were little definitives and sometimes I tend to have some issues with too much ambiguity. Overall I often didn’t know why I had to do something and I lost track of the story after the initial quest was to reach a ranger named Miller – a task I could still get behind, while later assignments often left me wondering and clueless. Therefore I all too often just focused on running towards the exit…
The strongest trait of this game is, IMHO, its dense atmosphere. I say this all the time, but for Metro 2033 it’s especially noteworthy. The abandoned and broken tunnels, the people living in these undercities (and their behavior/conversations), an almost constant sense of threat outside of the few safe zones… Not that many games try to pull that off, let alone manage.
A sequel, Metro – Last Light, has already been confirmed. It’s again backed up by a book (Metro 2034) and if it might shine some light on events in the first game, I would definitely be interested. Or maybe I should just get the books (though people tell me the second one is a lot worse than the first).
PS: Metro 2033 is supposed to be one of these games, which have graphics that are so much better than everything else, because it has some DX10/11 support. I, again, don’t get it at all. Though I believe the graphics to be really good, I never once liked them half as much as… say Batman: Arkham Asylum – a game whose graphics are supposed to be bad, because it’s using UE 3.x and DX9. That doesn’t even cover how much more frames UE delivers (something I deem positive).