Metro 2033 was based on a Russian novel which of course I’ve never read (like the Witcher) so I can’t tell you how closely it follows the source material. Despite being several years old, the game is technically demanding so you’re probably not going to be able to run it with integrated video hardware.
In the near future a nuclear apocalypse has occurred with the vast majority of Russia’s population wiped out and the surface world covered in radioactive fallout. The survivors live underground in the Metro, a vast subway system that now houses maybe 1000 people. People in the game speak heavily accented English with some Russian cursing thrown in (which you may recognize if you play Dota2). It’s a harsh life underground scrounging for food and fighting for limited resources, made even worse by giant mutant rats and bandits running around killing people for their possessions. You play Artyom, a young man who is sent through the Metro to pass along an urgent message. Metro stations (mini-cities) and guard outposts are being attacked by “Dark Ones.” The Dark Ones are the bogeymen of the Metro, like stories told to frighten children. Too bad they’re real and coming to get you.
Metro 2033 is a first person shooter with very good graphics and lighting effects, and a focus on post-apocalyptic underground atmosphere. Years ago when I was considering getting the game, someone told me Metro was like the STALKER games (another post-apocalyptic Russian series). This is NOT correct. STALKER is about collecting loot, wandering an open world kicking ♥♥♥ (like Fallout but you die easier). Metro 2033 is very linear and you don’t really have an inventory system. You just have weapon slots and ammo like Doom or Quake. The only real similarities are the depressing environments and atmosphere. Metro has a sort of semi stealth system where you can see how revealed you are (you want to stay in shadow) and you have a few throwing knives that can score instant silent kills. Metro also has a regenerating health system though it’s pretty slow and you don’t actually have that much health. Med kits are used to heal you to full almost instantly. If you try to blast your way through a bandit camp you’ll get squashed pretty quick.
Money in the Metro is ‘military grade rounds.’ These are regular bullets, but shinier, made before the war. You can use them as ammunition in some of your weapons to do more damage, but you’d be wasting them since they’re also your currency. Your money is spent on buying and upgrading your guns, buying consumables (grenades, knives, health packs) and just saving up for the money achievement. You probably won’t spend too much of your money if you play stealthy anyways since you can pick your throwing knives out of dead bodies.
The game also has a kind of morality system where you score morality points by exploring the Metro and making “good” choices. It’s actually really subtle and you probably won’t even realize it’s happening unless you read about it online. The screen briefly flashes like someone took a picture when you find a “morality point.” The points add up and at the end of the game you see a different ending if you scored enough (you need A LOT, so you probably won’t get the good ending your first playthrough).
Another key element of the game is your gas mask. There are times when you must leave the Metro and go up to the surface world, where the air is toxic. When this happens you put the gas mask on, which kind of obstructs your view and hear your own heavy breathing. Every few minutes you’ll have to change the air filter or the vision starts to get clouded up. Filters are found or bought just like other consumables, and this limits the amount of time you can stay on the surface. Another thing to note about your mask is that it can be damaged in battle. If you get shot or clawed, there’s a chance your mask will fracture or break, and you’ll need to get to safety or die (you’ll probably die). Metro is not an RPG, so don’t feel bad about running or sneaking past enemies. You don’t get any experience for kills and enemies don’t really drop money.
+Excellent atmosphere and graphics. Sometimes scary not in a BOOGA BOOGA way, but more of an OOOoooOOOOOOooo way.
+There is a heavy “supernatural” element to the game (the Dark Ones are psychic) to add variety to your surroundings. You can also play stealth or shoot em up, but you should start each fight picking off people if you can.
+The game has been given away free a few times and appeared in a few bundles. Not bad for an AAA game.
-For an older game the hardware requirements are intense and your computer will probably heat up while you’re playing.
-The game is deceptively straightforward. There really isn’t much exploring or alternate paths you can take. I don’t mind this but some people might think it takes away from the experience, especially if you thought the game was going to be like Fallout or STALKER.
Overall Metro 2033 is a great game and you should give it a try if you have it in your library. I haven’t tried the Redux version but I’m told it’s basically the same game with better graphics. Like I said earlier, the graphics are already really good, so don’t feel pressured to shell out money for the new and improved version, at least until the price drops.