Metro was a novel written by Dmitry Glukhovsky. The first one titled Metro 2033 was published in 2005. Inspired by the novel, Deep Silver Game Industry, decided to create a video game, Metro 2033. In 2010, they released the 2033 title, at 2013 the Last Light title and the last game of the trilogy, Metro Exodus came during 2019. In this review, we will discuss about some gameplay aspects of the games, some features and also the main story. This is the first part out of the three articles about to be released about the games. Here we will discuss about the first title, 2033.
DISCLAIMER: We advise you, that massive spoilers are ahead so read on your own account. If you want to download the game, is available on Steam and the Epic Game Store.
The Great War
The year is 2013. Humanity is yet again in war. World War III is happening all over the planet. There are 2 major countries, battling with each other. The United States and Russians. But the world is going to change forever. Although little is revealed about the war itself, we have some knowledge in game (from “Enter the Metro” animation). We know that 20.000 military warheads were used and also that 140.000.000 Russians died. The event was called Armaggeddon, or simply Catastrophy or Extinction. People of Moscow, managed to survive for 20 years in the Metro of the city, believing that they were the only ones who survived the calamity. But soon we shall realize that this is far from truth.
After the nuclear attack where “humanity killed itself” according to the words of Artyom, earth became an inhospitable place. The city of Moscow became a shadow city. Human life could not be sustained on the surface. Even the few brave who wanted to go up there, stayed only for a few minutes, with equipment and of course weapon. The radiation killed most of living things. But the creatures who survived, changed and became hideous beasts. And on top of that, a new human species were immerged from the Botanical Gardens, the Dark Ones. Back in the Metro, although at the beginning humans stood together to build their underground civilization, humans once again fell to the traps of radical ideologies… The human race is at the brick of extinction, even in the Metro.
Fast forward to the date 2033. The people of the Metro of Moscow, believe that they are the last of the human race. They rebuilt again, united in the struggle for survival. But by the time that Aryom became 24, humanity, besides the total wars between the factions of Nazis and the Reds, they have a new enemy. They are called the Dark Ones, tall black beings, with supernatural powers, able to kill a human in only mere seconds. A new threat, supposed to end whatever is left from Humanity. Metro, either way or another, is in grave danger.
The Metro, as Khan, one of the side characters of the story will reveal, is not just a place, a manmade construction, but is a place full of paranormal activities. Souls trapped in the places that they died, like the fellow soldiers of Khan. There is a religious Christian saying, considering the violent seperation of the soul from the body, during a man’s death. Metro uses this idea to a great extent, trying to make the point that the War did not scar humanity only to a superficial manner. The destruction had a greater and deeper impact, that only the Metro itself knows.
Artyom Alekseyevich Chyornyj – The Main Character
In the 2033 novel and game, we get informed that Artyom, the hero of the Metro stories, is 24 years old. When the bombing happened, he was just 4 years old and has brief memories of it. But he cannot remember one person. His mother. After the withdrwal to the metro tunnels, he lost her. As Artyom says about himself, he is not the bravest nor the best of fighters. He is just a young adult, trying to help his father and his station, the Exhibition, as it is called. This is of course so everyone can be one with Artyom. Huw Beynon the head of Deep Silver said one time:
“If Artyom has a face… surely it’s yours?”
We see from the head of the Metro project, is to make the player be Artyim and live like him. Of course, the question that Huw makes here, is meant for the way the game is going to be played, as we will analyze below. From his journey in the tunnels of Metro, Artyom is going to meet people of different backrounds and specialities, but also he will gain knowledge that the threat in the Metro is not actually the Dark Ones, but the humans living in it. During these encounters, he will have to make choices, that will make him either enlightened or the worst enemy for those Dark Ones. At the end, he will meet and get familiar with the Rangers of the Metro, a military non-politically inclined organization. This group of the so calles “Spartans”, will play a major role in his life.
Khan – The Mysteries of A Man
Khan is one of the most intersting and mysterious characters throughout the Metro series. He first shows up after the death of Bourbon. Immediatly he helps Artyom to continue his journey. Khan is the first one to show to our protagonist the what the Metro really is about. A new reality, shaped in the war and destruction of the previous one. Throughout the whole way of Artyom to Polis, Khan will try to show him that the world of Reds, Nazis and even the Rangers, are the shortsighted groups of people, that in the name of survival and power will do anything. That’s why the Ranger are obsesed in destroying the Dark Ones, without knowing anything about them.
Although his obscure character and secretive life, Khan will be a mentor figure for Artyom. The questions that he asks Artyom will echo in his mind multiple times. One cannnot shake the idea that Khan is a kind of Guardian Angel for Artyom. This idea will be later be developed during the Last Light title and even though Exodus will not have Khan in it, the amount of time that the character gets, it’s enough to get a glimpse of that idea. Generally, Khan is the reason that the player will have that ethical dilemma, the inner discussion of right or wrong. And this, for getting the player to get the point of the game. To show that behind a fun game, can be a deeper meaning to all that.
The Rangers of the Metro
One of the politically neutral factions of the Rangers that we meet during Metro 2033, is the Rangers. Although it is a mere introduction at the first game (during Last Light we learn more about them, let alone the Exodus title, which is all about the Rangers), we get a first picture about them. Hunter, a ranger from Polis, is one of the soldiers of “Sparta” (the name of the squad) and actually presents the Rangers as the protectors of the Metro. They are tasked to end the threat of these “Nova Humans”, the supposed next step of human evolution. Although his assumptions were actually wrong, Hunter plays a major role into shaping the character and decision making of Artyom.
Following Hunter’s orders, Artyom starts his journey to Polis, to deliver Hunter’s message to Miller, the chief of the Rangers. Later we learn that Hunter is probably dead, although we never learn or see it happen, so the last words of Hunter, play a crucial part to the decisions of Artyom. “If It’s Hostile, You Kill It” was his last words to Artyom, before dissapearing into the tunnels.
Although the attribute that Rangers will do anything to help the human race survive, it does not make them bloodthirsty killers. Khan realises that, the fear of the unknown that can lead to an existencial threat, so he talks to Artyom. Khan is not trying to enforce a way of thought to young Artyom, but to help him see the bigger picture, that is beyond him, Artyom, the Rangers, or even the survival of the humans in the Metro.
A Complete Story
The story is amazing. The player can keep track of politics in the Metro, he can witness the differences of people’s ideologies, he can understand the flow of events and he can become one with Artyom. Artyom has a characteristic throughout the series. He does not speak, probably simulating the player. The player cannot possibly interact with a NPC, so the NPCs interact only with Artyom and not the other way around. This silent character is not because of technical difficulties. But rather to keep Artyom reachable through other aspects of the games, like the diaries, or the loading messages. Adding to all that, Khan himself is actually intrigued by Artyom’s choice not to speak.
Although it’s the first part of the trilogy and the oldest release, it does not luck in character development. It may not be a Witcher-level plot, with many plot points and side stories, but it is a straightforward experience, well written and developed for a nearly 10 hour experience. The simplicity of the story, the bullet point screenplay, helps to keep the game simple. A single character, that meets other secondary character that help him, or go against him, and at the end, throughout your experience and your journey, you must face the consequences of your actions. Straight. Simple. Great.
Being the first game of the trilogy, it goes without saying that it ceratinly lacks in aspects of weaponry, crafting and itemization, let alone graphics. Although, for a 2010 game, the graphics are great and the atmosphere that the developers created, the depths of the Metro, the warzones and of course the breathtaking apocalyptic scenery of Moscow, add to the theme of the game. As a player, you can easily get hooked on the mazes of the metro, or lose your way in the abandoned buildings of Moscow. Meanwhile, every move needs to be counted strategically (especially at Ranger Hardcore Mode, which I totally recommend for the perfect Metro experience), from what weapon you are going to use, to many bullets you are going to need.
Also, you must be prepared to face the earth as it has become post the Great War. Artyom must have with him a good enough supply of filters, if he is going to survive at the unforgiving new world. The contamination zones, destroy your filters, so the player must be ready to cross fast. It is a very nice detail, that the guns of this game, are not your ordinary guns. What we mean, is that, of course they replicate from existing real world guns, but they are handmade and optimazed in the game, to give you the feel of the survivalistic life of the people of the Metro. Every gun has its own use. Every kind of bullet that is used, either on people or nosalisies, is something to be consider. The damage you are going to make on your enemies depend on these two things, bullets and guns.
At this last section of the Metro Trilogy review, it would be good to emphasize on the Multiple Endings of the games. Every single one has two endings the Good Ending and the Bad Ending. We used only the Canon Endings, to present to you the main flow of the game. Now, to understand how this works, is to understand the character of the game itself. Metro is not a fast paced shoot ’em up game. It is not your basic Call of Duty experience, where you play to kill. Artyom is not a killer.
The player can make him so (alas getting the Bad Ending), but Artyom can be played as he is meant to be. Stealthily, while avoiding killing humans, no matter who they are (Reds, Nazis, Bandits etc). Artyom also does not kill those who surrender. He kills only in self defense, and when the life of the innocent are at stake (like when Artyom meets the refugees from Andrew’s the Blacksmith Station).
In order to get the Good endings, you acquire Moral Points, by saving or helping those in need, and by avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. By doing that, in the 2033, you will be able to knock the radar down and destroy it. By doing that, the missiles never reach the Dark Ones Nest and you get the “Enlightened” achievement. It’s the only game where the Good Ending is non – Canon.
In 2034 and Exodus, the Canon Ending is the Good Ending. If the player screws up the Good Ending by not getting Moral Points or by not keeping the team together (in Exodus you need to keep your friends with you in order to transmute blood to Artyom), you get the Bad Endings.