4A Games formed from former employees of GSC Game World, developers of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. I can certainly see the similarities in that franchise and Metro 2033. The engine used is most likely very similar, but while S.T.A.L.K.E.R. uses it to create an open world, Metro 2033 is extremely linear and claustrophobic, almost entirely being underground.
I know a lot of critics come down hard on linear games, but it works well for Metro 2033. It has to be one of the most dark and chilling atmospheres I've played in a video game. If you're not playing in a completely dark room, you're not enjoying Metro 2033 the way it's intended. This is atmospheric survival-horror at it's best.
Only in a game like this can you really get away with all these tiny corridors (metros). There are times when you tire of the same tight caverns and just want a bit of an outdoor set-piece to spice things up, but that would go against the overall feel of the game, I suppose.
There have been plenty of other atmospheric games. Recent titles that come to mind are Amnesia, Aliens vs Predator, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. But what makes Metro 2033 more successful is the fantastic engine. I ran it at it's highest settings and everything looked fantastic. The lighting effects and constant dynamic fog and mist were really impressive. Even small things like the flickering of your light hitting dust in the air. The only issue is my computer struggled a bit on the outdoor areas, especially the Tower. In the end I had to turn the settings down to Medium, it was just too choppy.
The game follows the novel of the same name, and while this might have been good as a book, it seemed to lack purpose in the game. I seemed to be travelling to another metro station for most of the game just to tell them that my own home station is in trouble with invading creatures. Did they care? No, the entire suicide-mission was a waste of time. So then I'm tasked on a new mission to launch some missiles somewhere. According to the novel the creatures lair, but I don't really see what different leveling several blocks of Moscow really makes when the entire world is ravaged by these creatures. And then the game ends, with no explanation of where they came from or how the world got this way. But I suppose the novel left a lot of this out as well.
The gameplay was well done, with some very tricky parts where you can get overwhelmed with creatures or just taking on a large number of humans (Nazis). Most creatures are difficult and sometimes I found it easier to just run for my life instead of taking them on, which helps the survival-horror feel. The only problem with my play-through is I saved up a lot of money and ammo expecting a tough final third of the game. But upon getting the best weapon in the game, things kind of got a bit quiet. In the end there was no boss battle or anything like that. So playing through again I'd definitely buy the better weapons earlier instead of holding out and saving up. It ended up making the middle of the game a bit harder.
In the end I finished with over 300 Military-Grade bullets, which is used as cash or can be used as better bullets in guns. Probably if I were playing on hard, I would have used all these up.
Also it could have been a bit clearer as to what weapons are best. Even at a shop it was hard to tell if what I'm buying is worse or better than what I have. Outside of shops, nothing is even named so you have no idea what you're picking up. Also it would nice to know how many items I have such as health packs and air filters.
I think some people won't like this game. It does have a slightly Russian/European build quality (I've played enough Russian shooters to notice it), but for a game like this it works. If you like a very atmospheric survival-horror, you should enjoy this one. Personally, I loved it. I probably should have waited for the 2014 Redux version though, which is coming soon.