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

How nuclear armageddon could resuscitate a flatlining genre

Despite being an FPS on the surface, Metro's challenges put us much more in mind of the early days of Resident Evil than the likes of Doom. You're no plasma-toting space marine superman. You're just a guy with some ex-military weaponry and barely enough ammo and health resources to make it through the day. Even with a pistol, a shotgun and an assault rifle at your disposal, you'll hear the mortifying click of an empty chamber quickly and frequently.

Above: The tunnels are deadly enough, but the cold light of day is very cold indeed.

Thus, where most horror shooters reduce the trusty melee weapon to the state of never-used inventory decoration, existing purely to allow hardcore players to show off during their Youtube speed-runs, close-up knife combat becomes a staple battle tactic in Metro 2033. Knife damage is powerful, but the panic we felt when frantically trying to slash through five leaping muto-dogs was blistering.

But at this point we must raise a definite concern. While Metro 2033's return to the punishing oppression of traditional survival horror is both admirable and welcome, we can't help feel that things are currently stacked a little clumsily against the player.

Above: This much back-up is rare, and in these dark, cramped conditions even a five-man squad might not stand much of a chance.

Limited character movement is an obvious staple of ‘proper’ survival horror, but at the moment Metro’s protagonist feels a little too slow and clunky to allow a fair fighting chance, particularly given the limiting nature of a first-person perspective. And while swarming enemies are great for firing up the initial panic factor, after four or five battles things start to feel samey and a little cheap.

We really hope that developer 4A is using the remaining few months before release to improve balance and make monster AI more interesting. With so many well-realised ideas in the game, it will be a massive shame if the core violence mechanics drag things down.

In summary


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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