Monday, 17 June 2013

Delve into the Metro

Unfortunately not many people that I know have played the Metro games, or even heard of them which is a huge shame as Metro 2033 and its recent sequel Metro: Last Light are two of the better games available on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  Based o the novels written by Dimitry Glukhovsky Metro offers a great mixture of first person shooting, stealth, story and supernatural intrigue.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 follows the story of the young Metro dweller Artyom as he is drawn into a battle to protect his home station, and by further extent the whole of the Metro, from the sinister forces of the Dark Ones.  Forced to travel through the Metro on a mission to save the last of humanity we see Artyom grow from an inexperienced young man into a hardened warrior.

The game is going to have a number of people complaining about it, and to be fair straight from the start the shooting element in the game isn’t really that great.  The weapons can sometimes feel underpowered and enemies can soak up round after round without reacting, but the game isn’t designed to be a hardcore shooter.

Metro isn’t supposed to be played as a running and gunning type of game.  You need to take your time and being stealthy, watching your enemies movements and planning your assault appropriately.  When played this way Metro changes from a mediocre shooter into a well crafted adventure.

Fight for survival against hideous mutants and monsters.

Add to this great stealth and action element monsters and the supernatural the game really stands out from the rest of the crowd.  With sections of the game dedicated to traversing the wasteland on the surface, avoiding traps and mutated nasties and Metro tunnels filled with the tormented spirits of those that have died there. 

In addition to the unique type of game play and story are some really very beautiful visuals and excellent level designs that create a truly unique atmosphere and location.  There are a lot of other games set in a post nuclear apocalypse or in abandoned locations, such as Bioshock and Fallout, but Metro stands above these as a truly believable location.  A lot of this comes from the Metro inhabitants, who go about their day and have their own conversations that you can listen in on that goes a long way to going towards making a believable world.

The Metro becomes a very real place.
Metro 2033 crafts its story amazingly well, letting the events unfold slowly over the course of the game, leading you in a certain direction but all the while giving you just enough intrigue to question the actions of Artyom and his companions.  Following these clues and performing certain specific actions can reveal a hidden second ending referred to as the ‘good ending’.  It takes a lot of time and effort to uncover this ending but is worth the effort as it reveals some unique plot points that gives hints to the direction that the sequel, Metro Last Light, will explore. 

A great game that plays wonderfully well despite its faults and dares to try and give us something other than a generic first person shooter.  8/10

Metro Last Light

Set almost a year after the events of 2033, Last Light sees the return of series hero Artyom who is now a Ranger of the Metro.  The game follows Artyom as he attempts to find the last surviving Dark One and repair the damage that he wrought at the end of 2033, whilst also exploring the results of the discovery of the military outpost D6, found in the latter parts of 2033.

A fully self contained military bunker filled with supplies and weapons D6 has become the home of the Metro Rangers, it's become the Metro system's most coveted station city.  This forces Artyom into direct conflict with several human factions within the Metro as each tries to find and conquer the fabled D6.

This allows Last Light to build upon the world established in 2033 and explore how the humans that have survived the nuclear apocalypse govern themselves and interact with each other.  It sheds light on some of the worst parts of human nature and our love of warfare and self destruction, yet doesn’t get preachy or overly melancholy when doing so.

The Metro is home to many monsters, some human.
Last Light manages to continue on the story of 2033 and improve upon the previous game in every way.  We are treated to completely new environments, with the only repeat visit to a past location being the D6 station, and each new place both above and bellow ground is given a unique look and feel.  For a game set within an underground rail system the game designers are able to offer us a vast wealth of spectacle and wonder to explore.

New and interesting enemies prowl these strange new surroundings, as well as classic monsters making a return, and with the savage winter above ground making way to spring the surface world has been transformed from rocks and ice to watery marshlands.

The game also introduces lots of little game play changes that go a long way to making for a much more enjoyable and immersive experience, from customisable weaponry to having to clean your gas mask visor when dirty.  Last Light feels like a completely fresh experience rather than a quick and easy sequel where the developers really have put in a lot of work and effort to make the best experience they could.

The surface takes on a strange beauty as winter passes.
One of the biggest improvements made over the original is the gunplay element.  In the first game entering into a gunfight could very quickly lead to Artyom becoming overwhelmed by the enemy followed by a nasty death. 

This time round the combat is one of the more enjoyable elements of the game, making stealthing an optional way of playing the game rather than a necessity.  The stealth element has also improved greatly, with neat little additions such as being able to unscrew light bulbs and cut power in areas to assist you move unnoticed. 

Explore a unique and engaging story.
Last Light has improved upon everything 2033 did wrong and everything it did right to create one of the best action adventure games around.  Though it could be played on its own and still enjoyed for the great game it is it’s definitely worth playing together with 2033 to give the gamer a fantastic experience.  9/10


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