The Fallout gaming universe needs no recommendations. The first two games of the famous series became the icons of the post-apocalyptic genre and the third game, although dramatically different from its predecessors, enjoyed a warm welcome from the gaming audience as well. Fallout 3 is often criticized by hardcore fans for digressing from the canon and having a too short main plot line, but anyway. Following the success of this series, many developers tried to strike gold from the post-apocalyptic mine, but it turned out that the survival on the ruins of civilization after a global catastrophe could only be fun if there was some special feature in the gaming universe. The difference between Fallout and the numerous attempts at mimicking it was that Fallout showed a strangely addictive, even though gloomy, world with unique culture and aesthetics. Most of the clones just couldn’t offer that.
Not all of such attempts failed, though. One of the more successful ones is the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series which builds upon the disastrous Chernobyl story, the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic novel, and the famous Stalker movie by Andrei Tarkovsky. Despite a very long time it had taken to develop (started in 2001, the first game was completed in 2007 only), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. gained enough recognition among gamers worldwide. Its example seems to prove that a post-apocalyptic game has to build upon a solid cultural background to be a success. This made the trick for Fallout and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Will it work for the 3D shooter Metro 2033 we are going to review today?
The game is set in Moscow, 2033. The fire of the worldwide nuclear war started by China quickly embraced the entire planet and consumed all major cities, the hearts of civilization. The civil defense systems reacted quickly and effectively, Moscow residents evacuating underground into the intricate network of the Moscow subway system. (As a matter of fact, this feature has indeed been implemented in the Moscow subway since the Cold War times. Under the threat of a nuclear attack, the stations and tunnels can serve as bomb shelters with filtering and ventilation utilities, hermetic gates, etc. Of course, the Moscow subway is inferior to the famous Vaults from Fallout in terms of comfort and security, but people being evacuated wouldn’t care much about comfort anyway, we guess. And as opposed to Fallout, no inhuman government-sanctioned experiments over the saved people are supposed to be carried out there. Although, who knows?
The Metro 2033 novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky narrates that about 40-50 thousand people have survived by the year 2033 out of the originally saved 70 thousand, which may be viewed as the author’s endorsement of the protective properties of the Moscow subway. At the moment of the attack, the single network of stations was split into multiple segments by the hermetic gates. As a result, in the decades of life underground, the isolated subway stations have transformed into mini states with various goals and ideologies, from communist and liberal to fascist. People keep on living by any means possible – growing edible mushrooms, breeding domestic animals, fighting rats and each other. Trade has developed, using the pre-war military grade bullet as currency. This is the background for the book as well as for the game inspired by it.