Xbox 360
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Game Info:

Metro 2033
Release Date: March 16, 2010
Available on: PC; Xbox 360 (Version reviewed)
ESRB: M
Publisher: THQ
Developer: 4A Games
Price: $46.99
(Amazon affiliate link)

Metro 2033 is game that captures the essence of survival better than most horror games even have. You never seem to get ahead in Metro 2033, you merely survive. It might be that you’ve ran out of ammo (Which is used as currency in the game, but more on that later), or maybe you’re running low on medical supplies. Whatever the problem is, I can almost guarantee you’ll encounter your fair share of dilemmas more than once.

Metro 2033 is played from the perspective of a character named "Artyom". He’s lived his entire life underground, just longing to one day see the earth restored to its former glory. He aspires to one day be a ranger too, and explores the wastes, but his stepfather doesn’t wish that for him. What he ends up getting himself into could either save humanity, or doom it.
Highlights:

Pros: Incredibly immersive; good story; great visuals; extremely realistic; the most atmospheric game I’ve played in a long time.

Cons: Half of the NPCs have laughable voice acting; pretty linear compared to other games; textures can be slow to load, and some of them look like garbage.

Moral warnings: Violence plays a massive role; you’ll hear just about every curse imaginable at least once; drinking and smoking make minor appearances.

The first level of the game is basically a semi-prologue. For the entire game you’ll try to work your way to the first level you played to see the outcome of the story. It really was a clever storytelling approach and I found myself feeling like it was almost an interactive book at times. The prologue ends with a massive cliffhanger, and you’ll want to play the game just to see what happens to your character. Once the prologue is done you wake up a few days earlier in the safety of your metro, and that’s where the game really begins.

As you do a few small tasks around the metro, you get news that the Ranger, “Hunter”, is returning. You’ve been asked to greet him at the metro gates and help him if he needs it. Shortly after making your way to meet him you find yourself again fighting for your survival. As humanoid mutants start bursting through the ventilation system, and you and a few others are all that can hold them off and keep them from getting to the general populace. Normally, it’s nothing when these creatures attack the metro, but they’ve never come this deep inside before. After you defeat the small threat talk about a new species of mutant, the Dark Ones, begins to develop, and the real story begins.
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls 5/5

Morality Score - 64%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 2/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical -10/10

The Dark Ones are supposedly the next form in human evolution; they can survive this new world while humans are dying out. They have a set of psychological abilities that allow them to get inside of their victim’s head, thus driving them to insanity. Artyom, on the other hand, soon discovers he is somewhat immune to their powers, and that quickly gets him well known among his peers.

Hunter (The Ranger that you greeted) is scared that the Dark Ones, and other mutants, are going to completely demolish your home metro, so he sets out to find a way to stop them. But before he leaves, he instructs Artyom that if he is not back the next day, Artyom will need to get to Polis (Basically, the capital of all metros) and seek help. Sure enough, Hunter does not return and Artyom has to traverse the dangerous undergrounds to try to save his people. Without spoiling much of the story, you will travel to quite a few odd destinations, including above ground. You’ll encounter supernatural anomalies, very strange creatures and, you guessed it, Nazis (Don’t ask). And you’ll do all of this in order to, hopefully, save your people, and possibly even all of humanity.
The story and atmosphere are by far Metro’s strong point, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the game fails in comparison. Most of the components this game has aid it in creating a beautiful atmosphere. Very few games have the level of realism that Metro has, and even less can make it work. Metro, unlike other games, completely nailed the realism aspect. Instead of going into a menu to check your objectives, your character actually pulls out a clipboard and lighter to check his handwritten notes (Which are your objectives). In order to survive topside you have to have oxygen; to get oxygen you need filters for your gasmask; in order to get those you have to buy them and replace them manually. These are just small details that make this game realistic. There are tons of other details I could mention, but I would rather keep a few surprises for you.

All throughout your journey you’ll run into people and creatures that want to kill you, and you’re going to have to defend yourself. I think we all know what the best thing to defend yourself with is…. That would be a gun. Guns aren’t in short supply around the Metro, but guns that are worth anything are pretty hard to come by. Scattered throughout the different metro stations (Safe zones) will be merchants and they have everything you’re going to need. Trading is a very interesting aspect of the game, mainly because your currency is your ammo. There are bullets that were made in the metros (Dirty rounds) and bullets that are pre-war (Military grade). Everybody wants the pre-war ammo because it’s tons better than what can be produced underground. But, you must come to the decision; do you want to trade your good ammo for better equipment, or keep the bad equipment and have a higher damaging round? It can be a surprisingly difficult part of the game, but it’s one of the parts that really stands out.
Metro is sometimes one of the most breathtakingly beautiful games I’ve ever played, but sometimes it’s surprisingly below par. The details in the environment might be the best I’ve seen in any game to date. You really feel like you’re in the game world after a while and that level of immersion is hard to find elsewhere. Graphically speaking, this game is kind of a mixed bag. The character models are incredibly detailed, but it seems like everyone you meet has the same face. The environments are gorgeous, yet some of the textures look like something from the original Xbox. The pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to graphics, but sadly, I can guarantee you’ll come across your fair share of ugliness.

If you’ve already heard something negative about Metro, I’m sure it was the gripes about the gunplay. If you haven’t, it’s basically supposed to have a really bad shooting mechanism. I personally didn’t find it that bad and actually had a lot of fun with the shooting aspect. Is it as tight, and responsive as other current shooters? No. Is it as bad as everyone says it is? No. I found myself relying on the throwing knives more than any gun; they’re the stealthy solution to any situation. You’ll have plenty of guns to try out for yourself, some of which control better than others, but you should be satisfied with all of them.

The sounds and music of the game are good, but nothing really standout. Guns sound like real guns, scary mutated monsters sound like…. Scary mutated monsters. You can hear the footsteps of your enemies when they draw near, or sometimes your own breathing after you ran just a tad too much. The amount of small details they added to make it more realistic really show and I actually thought I was really my character more times than I’d like to admit. The music also adds a lot to the experience. It sounds good, it’s fitting to all of the aspects of the game and it can make the game quite unnerving sometimes. I do have one gripe about the music though; it’s that I found it forgettable. Nothing iconic or special about it, it’s just some good background music that fits the mood.
The voice acting is sometimes pretty bad. Actually, most of the character’s voice work is bad or, at best, mediocre. With the exception of a few actors, everyone is just bland. On the plus side, the guy who does the voice work for Artyom is really good, and I found myself coming to the conclusion that he was the standout voice actor hands down.

Curse words are heard all throughout Metro 2033, and you’ll hear almost everything (F bomb, sh** and bi*** are all commonly used) in the book, and you’ll hear some of them in Russian. There are games that cuss a ton more, but the language is still there, and there’s no way to turn it off either.

Metro 2033 is a pretty violent game, and it makes no attempts to ever let you choose any other paths (It’s an FPS, what do you expect?). Is it overly violent? No. But it does have its fair amount of death and bloodshed. You have to kill a very diverse amount of beings. Humans, dog-things, ape looking creature (Their names are hard to pronounce, sue me) and a couple of others. There is no dismemberment in Metro, but there is quite a bit of blood. I personally didn’t find the violence that bad, but others may disagree with me.

From what I can tell, Metro gets the “Sexual themes” rating for a very easily avoidable instance. As you are passing through one of the metros you’ll get offered to “escort” a girl to her shack, but if you do (Spoiler) you get mugged and beaten. You then wake up with all of your money gone and there’s nothing you can do about it (Spoiler ends).

I was surprised to find out how much Metro delves into the supernatural. Although none of it is occult, it can be slightly disturbing or scary to some players. Ghostlike beings stalk some metro tunnels, the Dark Ones take you into a “dream” state, and there are strange anomalies that have no explanation for their existence.

Also, just on a small side note, there are characters that drink and smoke all throughout the game. There is even one instance that you and a few buddies engage in drinking, which is done from the first person perspective.
Overall, I found Metro 2033 to be a good game from a first time developer, and a good game for any developer for that matter. But sadly, it seems like every good thing Metro 2033 going for it, there’s same amount of things going against it. If you’re looking for a great shooter with great and balanced action, you’re not going to find that here. But if you’re looking for an atmospheric shooter, I honestly don’t think there are many better choices than Metro 2033. If you don’t mind its moral problems I highly suggest you play this game, it really is worth your time.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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