on Oct 22, 2013
I forgive this part of the game because the previous section was so strong, but this was really frustrating. I would gladly have traded this whole two-hour adventure of Nazis vs. Commies for another 15 minutes of spooks and mystery. Let’s talk about why this doesn’t work for me:
- Even though Armory is a (presumably) small city just like the others, they are “communists”. Laying aside the fact that labels like “communist” and “capitalist” get REALLY blurry when applied to village-sized societies, what is it that makes these guys “communist”? And not just communist, but communism modeled specifically after the Soviet Union, complete with political officers and KGB-style dudes running around checking everyone’s “papers”. Why have papers? The police – secret or otherwise – likely know the face of every single person in town. A “faceless” bureaucracy is neither useful nor possible. If anything, a despotic leadership would look more like the mob.
- There are “Nazis” in the next city, complete with Nazi-style uniforms and… ideas? Why? What made them form a society around those ideas? More to the point, what ARE those ideas? “Let’s invade Poland and kill the Jews” is no longer a viable goal when both Jews and Poland have stopped existing. What is it that makes these guys Nazis?
- Okay. Nazis and Communists. Whatever. But why are they fighting? What possible disagreement would make these starving, suffocating, suffering survivors ignore the armies of monsters and make war on each other?
- And even if they are at war, how is it that we’ve got men being conscripted by the cart-load and thrown into battle? Seems like we should run out of guys after a couple of days. At most.
- Okay, so they’re fighting. But would the war really take the shape of modern warfare with front lines, machine gun nests, sandbag fortifications, and infantry? Wouldn’t it more likely take the form of hide-and-seek ambushes, gang warfare, or guerrilla-style attacks against infrastructure?
I’m not saying you can’t make a story about Communists and Nazis fighting quasi-trench warfare in the subway tunnels after the apocalypse. I’m sure with the right world-building and proper setup you could make something like that seem plausible in a really pulpy way. But that groundwork was not done here. These two towns, their governments, their politics, and their ongoing war run completely at odds with the world the game has revealed so far. It’s been showing us a society of villages struggling against ghosts and monsters, and now it’s portraying something completely different in tone and scale.
Also, the game continually captures you in cutscenes, then has you escape in cutscenes. Then you get surrounded, but the bad guys don’t shoot you because they’re too busy talking. Then you are saved by dumb luck. This happens more than once in the game.
Dear Metro 2033: You don’t need to copy those other games. You’re better than them. Just be yourself.