Metro 2033 Review

We suit up and strap in for another apocalypse, though this time with an Eastern flavour. 360 version tested.

By Rupert Higham, March 29, 2010


Weapons are a mix of traditional military issue and inventive makeshift solutions.

In a masterfully synergic stroke of game design, your ammo (at least the potent military grade rounds) is also your currency used for purchasing essential weapon upgrades and armour. Stealthy gameplay is highly encouraged if you hope to buy any of the expensive hardware on offer later on, and the environments support it allowing you to take out light sources and keep an eye on your camo index before emerging from the shadows and plunging a knife into the neck of your enemy. 

Much has been made of the proprietary 4 A Engine and its incredible rendering performance, particularly in its DirectX 11-driven PC iteration, but the Xbox 360 version is no slouch either. Lighting and effects are handled well throughout with special mention going to the grotesquely hairy and detailed mutants. It is sadly inconsistent in parts however, with some of the later indoor sections lacking in texture detail and looking noticeably rough around the edges. 


Glowing green radioactive mushrooms - if only all of the effects of the apocalypse were so colourful.

Having full control over the player’s reins, 4 A Games have paced Metro very precisely, offering a fine variety of set-pieces along the way. Combat between human and mutant opponents is distinctly different with the former requiring stealth and the latter brute force, not to mention the variety of trusty Russian technology you get to play with along the way. The pursuit of immersion at any cost does lead to a few missteps however; one section sees you carrying a child through an area on your back which in control terms translates to adding inertia to your aiming movement. This may not be such a horrible ordeal if they hadn’t chosen this point to introduce a small and speedy hit-and-run enemy, making targeting about as accurate as filling in a crossword with a can of spray paint, and equally enjoyable.

Metro 2033’s insistence on immersion can occasionally come at the cost of gameplay, but its success in building an atmosphere of utter despair is undeniable.  The bricks and mortar of the game have been seen many times before and despite coming together to form a perfectly solid structure, it could very easily have been released at least half a decade ago. It excels in atmosphere to such an extent however that it is elevated beyond its simple trappings.

As fans of S.T.A.L.K.E.R will testify, Ukrainian games offer a distinctly unique flavour. From the obvious, such as the mere act of witnessing a range Russians behind the crosshair as opposed to always underneath it, to that less definable ambience created by different cultural input, Metro 2033 is a fascinating take on a well-explored theme. Like comparing the Hollywood sheen of say, Interview with a Vampire, to the raw vision of Night Watch, the Eastern European alternative isn’t necessarily superior, but it’s certainly distinct enough to demand attention.     

8 out of 10

Forum threadski here, scoring guideski there.

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