Fallout: Mother Russia Edition

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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In 2013, the world’s end is in the form of mass nuclear strikes. In order to escape the apocalypse, the denizens of Moscow descend into the city’s metro stations, shutting themselves off from the surface to survive the fire and radiation engulfing the world. For the next 20 years, the people turn the subway stations into underground cities, establishing their own laws and trades with the other stations. Of course, humanity being what it is, the fighting never truly stopped as a few factions have vied for control of the remnants of Moscow. However, a select few have stepped up in order to protect the people of the Metro from threats both inside and out. 20 years of radiation and supernatural elements have transformed the surface into an inhospitable wasteland where humans cannot survive, but the mutated wildlife rule in their place, prowling in packs or picking off anything that moves. They have even made homes in the Metro tunnels and abandoned stations, attacking the populated ones if provoked and sometimes wiping them out. This, along with more paranormal threats, are only a few of the dangers the people of the Metro have to live with. With all of these horrors, you would think that these people have seen everything at this point. If only its was just that. Every day brings a new terror to the Metro and it is not uncommon for someone to walk down a tunnel and never been seen again…

Developed by 4A Games and based off of the book series of the same name, Metro 2033 is an FPS Survival Horror series that explores the dark tunnels of the Moscow Metro and the dangers that lurk within and without, all while carefully managing scarce resources. The first game was released for the Xbox 360 and PC to critical acclaim, with a sequel, Metro: Last Light, launching in 2013 and including the PS3 this time. A compilation updated rerelease titled Metro Redux was released in 2014 to current-gen systems, containing both games, remaking the first game with Last Light‘s version of the 4A Engine, and upscaling the graphics for the new consoles.

The games follow Artyom, a young man that has lived in the tunnels ever since he was a small boy. The day the bombs dropped, he was taken to safety while his mother perished above ground, leaving him with in the care of Alex, his loving stepfather. Since then, he has lived a relatively stable life in the station of Exhibition. It all changes when the most feared creatures of the Metro, the Dark Ones, seemingly attack the station, prompting Hunter, Artyom’s mentor figure and a member of the Rangers, to hunt them down. His last words are if he does not return in three days, Artyom should travel to Polis and tell the Rangers of the Dark One’s threat. Artyom’s decision to follow through with Hunter’s last wish drives the plot of the first game. On his way to Polis and to save the Metro, he meets several important characters that will guide him on his way, ranging from Miller, the leader of the Rangers, to Khan, an ally of the Rangers that possesses extensive knowledge about the paranormal and other mysterious happenings in the Metro.

While the remnants of humanity have put aside their differences for the sake of survival for the most part, conflict is still their inherent nature and some continue to war against each other for power and pettiness. This is best represented by the Red Line and the Fourth Reich. The former hold true to Stalin’s Communist rule and the latter continue the legacy of the Nazis. The two groups continuously war with one another and life under their control is just as bad as it sounds. Of course, the biggest danger to the Metro comes from the world itself. Indigenous life has been mutated beyond most recognition, becoming unrecognizable to what they were and incredibly dangerous to the residents of the Metro. From the flying Demons and swarming Spiderbugs to the dreaded Librarians, these are only a few of the creatures of this post-apocalyptic world. On top of this, the apocalypse seems to have shattered both Heaven and Hell, with the ghosts of the dead forever trapped within the tunnels or on the surface. However, none are as dangerous or feared as the Dark Ones. Tall and lanky humanoids with powerful psychic abilities, the Dark Ones drive people mad just by being near them and the Metro want to wipe them out before they suffer the same fate first.

The game plays like your standard FPS, but instead of professional weaponry, everything is cobbled together and looks like it could fall apart just by glancing at it. While the usual archetypes of pistols, shotguns, SMGs, and semi-autos are there, there is a large amount of customization available for each weapon. The shotgun can have four barrels for more damage, elongated barrels for more range, and other customizations for example. Currency in this world are military-grade bullets, which can be used to cause more damage, but is usually only advised to be a last resort as the player would literally be shooting money. The levels are designed to be as tense as possible, with plenty of secrets and unpleasant surprises awaiting those that explore. If one wants to survive in the tunnels, then they need to be as prepared as possible. When the time comes to travel to the surface, the player needs to be stocked up on air filters and durable gas masks, trading each filter out every five minutes.

The games were originally published by THQ, but now that they are defunct after declaring bankruptcy, the rights have gone over to Deep Silver, to which Metro Redux was released under. The original game should have been an instant classic, but THQ botched the marketing, relegating it to cult classic status. Still, the two games are very well made and have enjoyed critical reception. The original Metro 2033 does look rough, but Redux looks phenomenal and is the definitive version that should be played, abridging or combining segments for a better flow in both story and progression. If a tense and immersive atmosphere and story combined with detailed, realistic, and challenging gameplay sounds like a good time, Metro Redux is the best deal to experience two of the most frightening FPS games of the 2010s.

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