Read any Russian novels lately? I don’t blame you. After all, why would you? When you’ve got the lure of Dan Brown and…I dunno, Shakespeare, why go stick your nose in a Boris Strugatsky? Well, you really should start doing so, because it turns out that Russian literature can make for some awesome video games.
Here’s the basic plot of Metro 2033. Set in the shattered subway of a post apocalyptic Moscow, Metro 2033 is a story of intensive underground survival where the fate of mankind rests in your hands. In 2013 the world was devastated by an apocalyptic event, annihilating almost all mankind and turning the earth’s surface into a poisonous wasteland. A handful of survivors took refuge in the depths of the Moscow underground, and human civilization entered a new Dark Age. So, in 2033, you play as Artyom (makes a nice change from all the Nathans, eh?), raised underground, and after one event we don’t know the details of yet, you basically get a gun and go kick some ass. So, sounds quite promising, if a little familiar, right? Well, here, in nice little bullet points, is why I’m excited about Metro 2033.
A fact for you. When countering the German offensive of Operation Barbarossa, during the harsh winter of 1941, Russian soldiers didn’t scream when shot. When a pointy shard of lead would enter their body, piecing their flesh, organs, possibly bone, and they lay there on the snow slowly bleeding out, they wouldn’t make a sound. It was seen as surrender to the Germans, a sign of weakness. Now, when you have citizens as kick ass as that, how can a game not work? Not to mention that Russia is bloody scary. It’s right next to Chernobyl, after all. We’ve been to almost all other landmasses overthrowing evil dictators in games, and unless you’ve played the stellar S.T.A.L.K.E.R series on PC (Many of the developers who worked on that masterpiece are now working on Metro 2033), Russia remains ‘that place that bad dude in Modern Warfare 2 was from’. It’s about time it got the attention it deserves.
I’ve just mentioned Chernobyl, but let’s do it again. If you’ve even wondered the haunted streets of Pripyat (again, not in Call Of Duty), you’ll know that wild, mutated boar and even wolves just roam about, oblivious to the once thriving human city they feed and breed in. Now, that’s just one example of Russian mutation (Yeah, I know it’s in Ukraine, but in the 70′s it was in the USSR), so think what a post-apocalyptic war could do? The S.T.A.L.K.E.R boys are already accustomed to creating horrors of nature, and there’s little better on consoles then those blue guys from Uncharted 2 on consoles, so some creepy weirdos are gonna haunt your journey through Moscow.
Admittedly, there’s not much new you can do with guns. Yes, it’s a first person shooter, but we all know that means one button to aim, one to fire, and another to reload. What’s really interesting about Metro 2033 is that fact, unlike all those other FPSs where you can’t even see your feet, Metro 2033 really places you in a physical world. Just check out this screenshot to see the level of detail – cracks in your gas mask fray and split the light, and you adjust the radiation meter that is cleverly disguised as a watch (see, you’ve even got some James Bond in there). This takes immersion to a whole other level than just seeing your feet – this really makes you feel like a part of the world.
But, we’ve been betrayed before. Games have had great promise, only for the end result to be a haphazard mess, our dreams dashed on the jagged rocks of optimism. Or something. Anyhow, it’s too early to tell just how well Metro 2033 will turn out – not until the first gameplay videos are revealed, which 4a Games teases us with, saying they are coming ‘soon’. Whatever happens, keep your eyes on this one. And read some Russian books.