First Person Shooters, We’ve all heard of them, we all know what they are and they currently dominate the video game spectrum. Ranging from generic war shooters like “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” to all out insane shoot fests like “Doom” and “Unreal Tournament”. Very few first person shooters are actually able to break the norm and be something unique of their own. They’re one in a generation really like “Half Life 2” or “Fallout 3” or the game that I’m going to talk about, The “Metro” series.
The “Metro” series consist of two games, “Metro 2033” and “Metro: Last Light”. They’re based off of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novels “Metro 2033” and “Metro 2034”. In respect to the source material, the games are spot on with a little bit of exposition missing it is later on filled in the game’s sequel. Without giving away any spoilers here is a quick introduction on the story of the “Metro” series.
It all begins in “Metro 2033”. 2013,The entire continent of Russia is engulfed in a nuclear holocaust forcing all of Russia’s citizens deep into the underground Metro train stations. After years of living in the Metro the millions of survivors have made a station based country deep in the underground. In the Metro they’re 3 different factions that fight for control of the Metro and its resources. The Communist “Reds”, The “Fourth Reich” Nazis and the independent Rangers. In the year 2033 the Reds and Nazis have reached a critical point where they are always at war forcing the Rangers to search for someway to bring peace to the Metro. Mean while down in the Metro there are supernatural ‘things’ happening in the abandoned parts of the Metro that no one has come to understand but the real danger lives above. The nuclear radiation has transformed many creatures including human beings into horrid mutations deemed “The Dark Ones”, they’re vicious and will kill and eat anything including the survivors of the Metro.
Now the story begins with Artyom, a young 20 year old man who was born right before the nuclear holocaust but was raised in the Metro and lived there his whole life with one exception. When he was a young boy he visited the Botanical Gardens. A huge hive where the greatest and strongest of all the mutated creatures lived, Homo Novus. Speculated to be the next evolution in the genetic chain, the Homo Novus are large slender shadowy beats that can manipulate time, teleport and have extremely powerful telepathic powers that they use to dominate every being in the Metro above and below. On one fortunate day Artyom visits the botanical gardens and was rescued by one of the Homo Novus. Through this a bond was formed between him and the Homo Novus making him a median between humans and mutants. Never really affected by the Homo Novus, Artyom is neutral on them until one day Hunter, a ranger shows up to his station and convinces Artyom that the Dark Ones must be destroyed. On the way out Hunter tells Artyom that if he does not return he must head to Polis station, the capital of the Metro and convince the rangers to help find a way to defeat the Dark Ones. Hunter does not return and Artyom embarks on his mission through the Metro and the surface for the very first time. Along the way he meets new friends, experiences war and survives the supernatural forces of the Metro ultimately reaching his goal or does he? I’ll explain that later.
In the sequel “Metro: Last Light” Artyom returns this time now an esteemed soldier who must use his link to the dark ones to help avert Wold War 3 in the Metro. I’m being short on the summary because I don’t wanna spoil the games. The stories are great but “Last Light” was more story focused while “2033” was more about the gameplay which was amazing.
Now as I said in the beginning the “Metro” series is able to stand out of the clutter of First Person Shooters is because of its nicely tuned gameplay and unique mechanics only seen here. To begin with is the weapons. They’re about 30 different weapons ranging from sub-machine guns to assault rifles to shotguns to specialty weapons such as a flamethrower and a railgun. Each weapon feels different and have a perfect amount of detail added to them. The sub-machine gun dubbed “The bastard gun” over heats and has poor accuracy. The air-soft spring powered shotgun must be pumped constantly and flashlights must be charged. The attention to every little detail is amazing and is rarely ever taken seriously. the game is filled with unique mechanics that support different play styles. You can select and customize powerful guns and shoot your way through enemy encounters or you can stealth your way through and save precious ammo because in the Metro ammunition is currency so whatever you can save will be all the more useful when you get into later levels. Stealthiness can also attribute to the game’s morality system.
Usually in video games, I dread morality systems, they force you to play the game a certain way but in ‘Metro” it doesn’t matter or at least affect you in any harsh way because of the way the world is. It’s such a dark and dreadful world that you can’t help but feel sympathetic for the poor or the soldiers who are forced to fight. The game actually makes you feel like a human being and not some bullet sponge. You can’t save everyone but you can try your best and that is satisfying enough or you can be a total monster, the game will adapt and still keep you grounded. The only other game that I know that came close to this feeling was “Dishonored” but even then “Metro” is still more believable and has better conclusions to your decisions.
Technical wise, “Metro” is very ‘iffy’. Keeping in mind these games are on 5 different platforms and differ in quality. New-gen and PC are the best ways to play these games. The graphics are stunning and add even more detail to an already fresh game. The new-gen lighting to is extremely nice to have, the very first “Metro 2033” on the Xbox 360 was very muddy and difficult to see without over-using the night vision goggles. As well the A.I is relatively dumb, if you’re within a shadow or dark spot they won’t see you but as soon as you step into light they’ll immediately ring the alarm and shoot at you so be vigilante if you want to stealth. It is possible to ghost through the entire game and sneak past both humans and mutants. Probably though my favorite aspect of this game is the crouch jump. In the Metro crouching is how you muddle your foot steps and keep quiet but unlike most games not only is crouching speeds equivalent to running but you can also jump up and down and still not make a sound, other then the downtime levels in the games I spent most of my time crouching and using the crouch-jump to the fullest. I really hope more games use this because it just makes the game more enjoyable, by crouch jumping.
The last thing I’d like to touch up on is the debate on how to play these games. When it comes to difficulty and versatility this game is the best. To begin with you have your standard difficulties; Easy, Medium and Hard. Then you have the addition of Spartan Mode or Survival mode which drastically changes the way ammo, guns and enemies work with Survival being the more “Survival” like mode with less ammo drops and harder enemies and Spartan being the easier, run and gun game mode. Then Lastly is the ranger mode which removes the HUD of the game completely forcing you to literally keep track of your ammo, where enemies are and more. For an easy more story oriented play-through I’d recommend easy difficulty on Spartan with no Ranger or if you want to really feel awesome play the game on hard difficulty on survival with hardcore ranger mode on and if you really want to immerse yourself set the language to Russian, the voice actors are way better and the game is based in Russia so it adds to the authenticity.
In conclusion, The “Metro” series is an amazing game series to play through. With all around versatility to appease to all gamer to the hardcore shooters or to the relaxed player “Metro 2033” and “Metro: Last Light” stand out among the crowd and really prove video games can be more then just violent shoot fests or generic war fighters. I give the entire “Metro” series a 10 out of 10. “Metro 2033” is available exclusively on Xbox 360. “Metro: Last Light” is available on Xbox 360 and Ps3 and the “Metro Redux” bundle is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.