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.