Metro 2033: The return of 'proper' survival horror?

We know what you’re thinking as you look at these screenshots. Fallout 3: Snow Edition. We did at first too. But having now played through the first couple of hours of THQ's upcoming shooter Metro 2033, boy were we wrong.

Totally linear and heavily story-driven, Metro is actually a hardcore first-person survival horror with a set of values entrenched in the late ‘90s. Still sore that Resi has gone all testosterone and bullets? Metro has you covered. Its tale of post-nuclear survival in a colonised Moscow underground railway system is so wrapped up in traumatic challenge and cool ideas that if all goes well, it could take up the dropped survival horror baton very nicely indeed. Here’s why...

The emphasis is on survival

As a young man by the name of Artyom, it's your task to traverse the devastated city and warn the Metro council of a new and terrifying threat to humanity's already crappy existence. Moscow is crawling with monsters but as foul as they are, Metro’s mutated creatures of death-encouragement are just one reason for the city's funeral directors to be cheery.  As a post-nuclear wasteland, the Russian capital itself is hazardous to your health, and surviving it will take a good deal more than a quick Fallout 3-style Radaway shot every so often.

So hazardous is the atmosphere above ground that every time you break the surface you’ll have to wear a gas mask. Donning and removing your mask is a manual, button-activated action. Remember to do it and live. Forget and die. But a mask’s air filter can get clogged up with nuclear lung-death pretty damn quickly in a place like this. Thus, foraging for and installing replacements is as much a priority as killing and evading the murderous local wildlife, and there’s nothing automated about the process. Given Metro's penchant for immersive, "real life" game mechanics, you'll even have to raise Artyom's wristwatch (another manual action) from time to time in order to keep tabs on each filter's lifespan. 

Above: The snow-bound desolation of bombed-out Moscow has a unique and otherworldy eeriness about it. 

The scavenge-and-ration approach also extends to the game’s economy which, in Metro’s violent post-nuclear dishevelment, has been reduced to using a particular type of bullet as currency. The catch? Your hard-hunted money bullets can also be used in certain weapons. So the choice is a tough one; do you save your cash for the next expensive weapon shop and make do with your very limited ‘normal’ ammo, or fire it into the face of a monster and survive poorer?

Above: Metro's nuclear survivors are an equipped but ramshackle bunch, surviving on whatever they can salvage from the unforgiving city.

And even the horror game staple of the flashlight needs careful maintenance in order to remain effective. This time your attention will turn to a makeshift hand-crank generator which needs a regular jacking (a case of repeatedly jamming the fire button after selecting it from your inventory) if your precious light o’ life is going to stay at optimum power. Similarly, navigation is a case of pulling up your compass and following the arrow. It might have the same magic homing ability as Jack Sparrow's does in Pirates of the Caribbean, but raising it means lowering your gun, which is obviously very risky.

It takes a lot of effort, rationing and decision-making to survive in Metro’s Moscow, and absolutely nothing is done for you.

In summary



  • Mercutio - February 6, 2010 7:55 p.m.

    HA. The truck in the infographic for "resources" is from Command and Conquer: Generals. The game sounds tolerably fun, but the emphasis on manual actions will probably be overbearingly annoying. The problem with that kind of system is that there are inevitably stupid conflicts, like "I cant't glance at my watch and point a gun at the same time". I expect a 7-8.
  • oryandymackie - December 11, 2009 6:25 p.m.

    Crumbdunky, the whole "I'm original I played the first two main Fallouts and hated the third! Look at me!" thing is tired now. Although you may look sourly at it's "commercialism" it was still an outstanding game, so you're welcome to sit alone and play the first two Fallouts whispering bitter nothings while us "commercialists" have fun watching headshots in slow-mo and clearing out hotels in a beautifully devastated wasteland.
  • JohnnyMaverik - December 8, 2009 2:38 a.m.

    Sounds amazing, but I refuse to get my hopes up... if it deliver on all the promise though this could be big, and diservedly so...
  • gmilf71 - December 4, 2009 6:08 a.m.

    Dude looks awsome. If on the ps3 I'll get that. Cool concept. For some reason, it's never been done before that I know of.
  • AssBurgersFTW - December 4, 2009 4:54 a.m.

    Can't wait for it on PC, going to be some great mods for this
  • TheCreamFilling - December 3, 2009 11:57 p.m.

    Too bad it's not open world, this seems like just what I thought Fallout 3 would be. I keep thinking of the scene in The Road Warrior where Max searches a dead goon and finds a shotgun shell, but then it crumbles. That the type of game I want, where guns and ammo mean true power if you can actually find some.
  • TheIronMaiden - December 3, 2009 9:57 p.m.

    hmmm..on the fence for this one. Will have to see more details on it.
  • Ibitmyeye - December 3, 2009 4:04 a.m.

    Assuming this game does add in the neccessary improvements to make it a little less repititous, I definitely think this game has potential to be one of the best for the year.
  • PS3FANBOYKID - December 2, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    Might be the first good game published by THQ.
  • WayByWind - December 2, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    Should this find its way to the PS3, it may be the one horror game I'm interested in playing.
  • GrenadeSpamAndSausages - December 2, 2009 8:50 p.m.

    @crumbdunky you do know that you've just slagged off fallout 3 without any actual USEFUL input (you may have told us whats you thought was wrong but to be brutaly honest most don't give a flying feaces)then told everyone that you feel the same way and re-wrote an article we just read so you could then complain about co-op in survival games (I'm pretty sure GR has been through this before) please stop telling me things I already know and opinions are great but when they take up half a page, I think most people stop caring.
  • AnonymouZ - December 2, 2009 8:31 p.m.

    lul no ps3 then f it. i lul'd at xbot rules last post tho. man, does that guy love walls of text or what.
  • DoctorProfessor - December 2, 2009 3:21 p.m.

    Does the winter setting play a role into the game other than creating atmosphere?
  • GR_DavidHoughton - December 2, 2009 12:12 p.m.

    Yep, those old screens are from a previous iteration of the game that was shown off a good while back. Metro 2033 was 're-announced' in October, with this new, overhauled version. So ignore anything you see or hear about the the game that dates from before this report. And Metalgatesolid: Sorry, but there's no PS3 version at the moment. It's PC and 360 only right now I'm afraid. We'll let you know if that changes though.
  • gamesradar_george1 - December 2, 2009 11 a.m.

    @frmonth Good spot - yes this game has been in development for a fairly long time, hence the 2006 screenshots. Dave H might be able to explain more?
  • crumbdunky - December 2, 2009 4:30 a.m.

    Looks a lot more interesting than the series wrecking FO3(seriously, did NOONE play the infinitely better 1 and 2 except me? 2 borked combat systems, short and dull storyline and a bagfull of Bethesda's usual QA avoiding bugs do NOT make a great sequel in my eyes. Certainly, alongside Resi5, FO3 is my biggest disappointment of this generation-they even messed the atmosphere by recycling a little too much of Oblivion)-it seems to be truly oppressive and that's some high praise right there from the book's author to boot. Thing is, every time I hear about a game like this it just ends up being a let down and I REALLY share GR's fear that they'll stoke it up by cheap, unbalanced means and after doing a lot of the hard things right that wouldn't half be sad. Resi5 was killed, for me, by them neglecting the SP in a desire(oddly) tomake co-op king of survival horror when anyone who ever watched a scary film both alone and with a mate knows that scary is impossible with a friend-it just becomes funny. Played on your own and forced to put up withj the risavle AI of Sheva tha game sank into a babysitting/frustration sim exercise that I never want to see repeated. Dead Space did better but as a new IP didn't quite push it's ideas far enough(maybe next time?)whereas Metro2033 has ideas and atmosphere to burn by the looks and sounds of the game. High hopes IF tghey can avoid the many pitfalls of both the SH genre AND those that FO3 fell into by trying to be too many things at once and messing too many up as a result. BTW, I'm not saying FO3 is a poor game-it isn't-but it's easily worst in series, worse than Oblivion, gets a free [pass for some of the biggest bugs in gaming and gets way too much praise from sites which fail to say that it's not a patch on the rest of the (non bethesda) series. That's all-it's just a lot more disappointing than many realise.
  • LizarDAZZLE - December 2, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    saw this in PC gamer a while ago. Looks cool!
  • H2A2I00 - December 2, 2009 1:57 a.m.

    i am intrigued and the fact that most of the games set in a post apocalyptic world tend to be amazing(eg. Fallout 3) is a plus.
  • dunc12 - December 2, 2009 1 a.m.

    wow, this looks amazing. i'm a huge fan of the genre so this has my hopes high =]
  • Yeager1122 - December 2, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    Looks intresting lets hope they fix the problems with it.

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