Metro 2033 EP7: The Ghosts with the Most

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 68 comments

Link (YouTube)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


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68 thoughts on “Metro 2033 EP7: The Ghosts with the Most

  1. Benjamin Hilton says:

    Rant inbound in 3….2….1

    So this may be a little early to post this, but as I’ve said before I’m playing this for the first time now as well, and I can’t believe you are unable to buy filters anywhere after Market…there are multiple places with shops after but filters are never available again…I got to the library and literally couldn’t continue because I was unable to breathe. I had to go all the way back to chapter 2….hours of game play lost.

    And before everyone says “l2p loser haha” just think about this…I played it on ranger difficulty because everyone says that’s the definitive mode…and I get punished incredibly for something I didn’t even realize was a mistake until hours later.

    And yes Bourbon does tell you to buy some filters…but “buy a couple” and “buyout all of them because you will never get another chance” are two separate things.

    Then on top of this, on this second run through I stock up in Market and find that for the rest of the game I can no longer loot filters…no matter how much the clock ticks down, I am never again able to loot perfectly good filters that I was able to loot the first time…What the hell?

    It would have been so easy to simply make them available at later shops or at the very least fix such a major bug as not being able to loot them. Instead we have an egregious example of DIAS game play, not because you have to do it a hundred times, but because doing it wrong once sets you back half the game.

    I have never loved a game so much and then been so turned off by such a silly design choice.

    Pardon my French but *Fuck. That. Noise.*

    Rant concluded

    1. A. Hieronymus Bosch says:

      Supposedly, the lower your remaining air, the more filters you can loot off of corpses.

      I think something causes this to break, though. Because I found myself consistently running low before and after Polis, with very few filters showing up. (Side note: I think headshots break the filters.)

      Once you get inside the library there are a number of filters available, though. You just have to go stupidly fast or abuse the (un)equipping of the mask.

      Still. They really should have let you buy or acquire some filters inside of Polis. Or have at least had the NPCs give you an extra minute or so if you were out.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        Weirdly enough, I never had that problem – but that’s probably because I bought all the filters I could BY ACCIDENT – I was talking to a friend and looking away from the screen, not realising I was still pressing buttons. And since I didn’t have my headphones on, I couldn’t even hear the noise of bullets leaving my pockets. I thought I had screwed myself, but decided to run with it anyway to see how far I would get with a lot of filters and not much else. By pure accident it turned out that was the way to go in Ranger Mode.

      2. Benjamin Hilton says:

        Yeah there was definitely a glitch there…I would look directly at filters that were in boxes, next to static corpses etc…ones that I know I had picked up on my first run through, that I couldn’t touch even though my time was running low.

        And yeah I know about the mask on/ mask off abuse technique, but really you shouldn’t have to do something like that to play.

        I did end up having to run stupid fast through the library when I got there again, and I ended up missing half the dialogue because of it…not to mention the inability to appreciate the beautiful library that the npc’s were talking about because I was so busy running from corner to corner scrounging.

        1. Corpital says:

          Nope, not a glitch. It is a “design decision”. Just like you can only buy filters until you are over 40minutes of filtrated air (so 49minutes *should* be the maximum), you can only pick up filters if you are under a certain amount of filtertime. The time you are allowed to have, naturally, sinks the further you are in the game, but how much *may* be a bit random.

          Bought Metro after the first SW episodes and the first time, I, too, had to start over in the library, because two minutes were a bit short.
          Second time, I stocked up to 46minutes and everything was fine, until a nazi slightly damaged the gasmask. Mask was replaced about 20seconds later, but I seemed to have lost over 10minutes of filter. Somehow. Ended up at the library with 7minutes and was not allowed to pick any filters up outside, but finished the game.
          Third time! Bought 31minutes of filters and finished with about the same results as above.

          So…without mask off/mask on to save filter, this system is very good at creating danger and tension in the late game by bringing all players to the same level. This level is called “you will suffocate if you don’t kill yourself beforehand because you cannot stand the constant blurry vision and heavy breathing”. A long name, I know.

          1. Benjamin Hilton says:

            Pretty much exactly what happened to me, glad I’m not the only one.

            And yeah even on the run that I finally made through I heard no dialog in the library because of my own breathing and couldn’t appreciate what was probably beautiful scenery.

            If you browse old forums this seems to be a common problem, but the only advice is about a hundred people shouting “L2P HAR HAR”

    2. Kataphrut says:

      It’s not so bad here because there aren’t any major gas mask sections between Armory and the next merchant, but the next time you get to buy something (right after the bit with the kid) is right before a prolonged outside section with lots of human enemies.

      If you’re playing it stealthily, you’ll have to move slowly and use up air time, and if you play loud, you’re at risk of getting your mask broken. And you can’t buy any filters at the shops right before that! It’s ridiculous. It’s a shame this game never developed much of a modding community, because the air filter problem seems like it could have been easily fixed that way.

  2. Spongioblast says:

    As I understand it (from the Wiki) the Nazis take the racial purity and militarism elements of German Nazis and just apply it to Russians. Kind of like how some American Neo-Nazis are just white supremacists with swastikas.

    So yea, I can see why they would be fighting. But the meatgrindery way they’re fighting makes little sense.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      It is a valid ideology for the setting,but the name and the symbols are just dumb.Why not call themselves purists,or the peoples party,or saviors,or anything else and have the enemies call them nazis as a slur.

      1. ? says:

        Because real world Eastern European Neo-Nazis tattoo nazi symbols on their bodies, collect nazi memorabilia and greet themselves with nazi salutes… From the realism standpoint it would be weird if they would not go for it and used some euphemism. And it would be weird if people going for communism nostalgia wouldn’t be pissed at them for it, since beating nazis was the greatest success of USSR. It would be like in a post-apocalyptic setting set in Deep South a group of white supremacist and proponents of slavery carefully avoided any references to KKK. What , are they afraid of getting sued? (although in real life writers would be afraid of getting sued by real KKK, so it’s cultural thing)

        1. DIN aDN says:

          Basically this. It’s a thing in the game because it’s [edit: got the word!] alluding to a thing in contemporary Russia that is pretty much guaranteed to evoke strong responses from its audience.

          By way of comparison – and holy canolli, this does not have nearly the same amount of gravitas – it’s not like you’d expect there to be suddenly ten times as much hair gel lying around as any other type of supplies, but insane 80s hair in English-language post-apocalyptic fiction is still done now after that many films and other visual media did it in the 80s when hair like that was a thing. Some elements of the setting are pulled straight from the here and now, because they’re things we can easily identify with.

          [Sorry for such an overwroght response. I just wanted to say more here than “Yes, seconded, it’s a Russian thing”]

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          And what are the chances of a huge group of neo nazis finding themselves in metro just at the time of the apocalypse?The biggest group of nazis Ive seen in my life was 5,and that was on a concert.Granted,moscow is bigger than my city(about 5 times),but I still doubt enough would gather in the metro for them to gather this much support.

          1. Raygereio says:

            You only need one slightly charismatic ring leader. What’s so dangerous about this type of group is that they thrive when society is at a low point by working of people’s fear and anger.

            1. Felblood says:

              –Or even when society in general is doing well.

              I grew up in Northern Idaho, in the 90s. You know that decade that everybody seems to say was so peaceful and great to grow up in? Followers of this guy taught us what “domestic terrorism” meant via the bombings and other violence the local news, well before 9-11.

              Nazi iconography is deliberately crafted to appeal to the sort of person a cult would look for. –not just the poor or the insane, or the recently released from prison; those are symptoms of the common condition that cult recruits tend to share. They are going through a lot of stress, and they don’t have close ties to any living friends or family. Give them a snappy uniform that let’s them feel like they belong, some counter culture elements, so they feel like a rebel instead of a sheep (like a lighting bolt tattoo and a deaths head ring), and some crazy dogmas, designed to isolate them from outside contact. Make them feel safe and in control, when they do what they’re told.

              Bonus points if you can borrow elements from some historical group the subject has heard of, instead of just inventing new stuff. For example, Hitler co-opted elements of Odinism and the Roman empire to give his iconography a sense of place, and people who borrow from him get that package deal, plus his record as one of history’s most… effective genocides.

              It gives a new faction a sense of history and well… legitimacy. Look at the way our founders blended Greek and French material into their primarily English society, to make it seem distinct from England, but not too “out there”.

              That said, the real problem here isn’t that the Reds and the Nazis don’t fit in the game-world realistically. It’s just that the game has, heretofore given us an impression of a world where civilizations this size are implausible, and here they are all the sudden, and nobody stops to mention that we might not have expected this. Suddenly we start doubting the crazy-awesome world the writers have been implying with this awesome tone, when we start to see the one they actually built.

  3. FakeName says:

    Last Light did a bit of a better job at explaining what makes the Nazis Nazis. They believe the only way to save the post-apocalyptic world is by ensuring genetic purity, so they kill mutants and anyone without the proper skull-measurements. In 2033 they’re really just jerks who like swastikas.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      They’re basically the Enclave.

  4. Mersadeon says:

    Look, Shamus, I really don’t like doing this… but if you look at what is hinted in the game and explained in the book, those problems get a lot smaller.

    Both the Communists and the Nazis don’t just have one station. The communists have the entire “red line” for themselves and are a force to be reckoned with – they have hundreds of people living under their rule.
    The Nazis only have three stations, and in the books are significantly weaker. In the game, they appear to be equally strong to the communists.
    The Nazis are based off of actual Russian Nazis – of which there are quite a lot, unfortunately, in modern Russia. And the ones from Metro think the precious little resources left shouldn’t be wasted on “subhumans”.

    And the Communists have a counterpoint – the Hanse. The Hanse is this weird mix of extreme capitalism and favouritism rolled into one. So, yeah, those communists don’t just like to call themselves that – they actually have a little government. And those passports? Those are actually all over the Metro, almost every civilised station makes their own from scrap paper. The Hanse doesn’t allow travellers without passports through, and since they control the ring-line, that means you can’t go far without one. This actually makes sense, as it means everyone without a passport can pretty much be assumed to be a bandit or somesuch scum – since all “good” stations issue papers.

    And sure, the smaller stations have fewer people. But big ones, conglomerates of several stations like Polis? Those aren’t 100 guys sitting around, it’s actually a small city.

    So, why are they fighting? Well, everyone wants space and resources. And those two groups also fight for ideologies – the Nazis want to purge the Metro of “subhumans”, while the Communists think that humanity in the Metro can only survive if everyone gets an equal share.

    Last, but not least – yeah, the warfare is depicted quite unrealistically and overblown. That’s pretty different in the books. Can’t really defend that, to be honest.
    One last word, though: In the games, monsters are a lot more prevalent. In the first book, we hardly even saw one. In most of the other books I’ve read, they are a bit more numerous, but it’s never like in the game – where settlements seem to be constantly under siege by Nosalis.

    EDIT: Well, I know most of it sounds pretty lazy, since I basically say “BUT IN THE BOOK” every sentence. It’s just that the game can’t give lots of exposition without breaking the tone. I wish -and I’m not saying this in a condescending or negative way at all- you had someone on the show who has read more of the books. I believe Josh has read some of them?

    1. MrGuy says:

      While that potentially makes sense, and explains why the authors of the books maybe had some semi-elaborate world building going on, that doesn’t excuse the makers of the game from slapping it in without explanation or setup.

      “It makes sense if you read the book” is even worse than “It makes sense if you hack the right terminal and read the right e-mail” as an excuse for sloppy game lore.

      The games are not the books. If you can’t make a concept from the books make sense in game, leave it out of the games.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        I know! I’m not trying to say that this makes sense in the game, just that there is an explanation. Also, we have to kinda forgive them a bit because in an atmosphere-reliant game like this, it would have been pretty hard to cram enough exposition in to make this plausible. It works better in the books because in that medium, you have constant narration that just by dropping a comment on the side can explain a lot.

        1. MrGuy says:

          we have to kinda forgive them a bit because in an atmosphere-reliant game like this, it would have been pretty hard to cram enough exposition in to make this plausible

          Agree it would be hard to fit this into a game AND explain it. Disagree I have to forgive them for knowing this and cramming it in anyways.

          When you adapt a work for other media, sometimes you have to cut/change a few things to make it work. For example, while I know it made some fans of the book mad, cutting Tom Bombadil from Fellowship of the Ring was a thoughtful and probably correct choice. Some flavor was lost, but given the other choices were adding 30 minutes of explanation to a 6 hour epic or shoehorning him in without any explanation, it’s the least bad option.

          1. Benjamin Hilton says:

            Or twelve hour epic if you count the extended editions.

          2. Mersadeon says:

            Oh, I think I didn’t express myself right. I mean that we have to forgive them for how they handled it, not for deciding to put it in at all. I think the Metro games could have worked a lot better if it hadn’t focussed on the Reds and the Nazis that much and just left them as big background pieces, without them dominating gameplay and plot that much.

            1. Benjamin Hilton says:

              I do think there is something to be said for the intent of the gameplay as well.
              It seems to me that this section was another way to change the pace…up to this point there were a few small battles, some stealth-able areas, and some slow pace moments and generally good pacing.

              This section offered the ability to either pull off the king of all stealth missions (sneaking past two armies in the middle of a battle), or to join the massive battle yourself.

              I believe this section was more about that gameplay than adding in story elements.

              I’m not saying it was a wise decision, just that I think that was their mindset.

              1. Mersadeon says:

                That is a point I’ve never really considered – that this was supposed to intensify your chosen playstyle. That’s an interesting thought.

                I certainly have to say though, this kind of warfare (and even worse, the end-battle of Last Light) are so not fitting with the lore.

                1. Benjamin Hilton says:

                  Further down in the comments Ryan Brings up the point that this section allows for a lot of moral choices.

                  There are multiple sections where people will be imminently executed. Do you save them or walk on by to maintain your cover?

                  And at later there are men sitting around a fire speaking about missing their families. Do you kill them because they are Nazis and you’ve been killing all the others? Would you feel bad about it after?

                  Regardless of the moral point system, these choices are just interesting on their own, and this Communist VS Nazi war gave the developers the chance to put them in the game.

                  Again I’m not saying it couldn’t have been done more elegantly, but I think I see where they were coming from.

          3. Peter H. Coffin says:

            Were it only a few things…

            It’s a matter of focus and good direction. If you change a lot of things to make a particular kind of video game, wholesale lifting of world from another work that is very different doesn’t work. You must also change the world to match and then you’re under a certain level of obligation to explain your world because it’s not really like the book anymore. If you want to use the world, and then have the book be part of the expected resources and knowledge the player brings to the game, then the obligation is instead to not screw around with the world, tone, and style in your move from Book to Video Game, even if that means not making a video game that fits all the expected patterns and tropes of a mainstream video game.

            Here’s a made-up example.

            Book: Blown is a novel about auto racing that deals heavily with performance tuning and team rivalries that manifest in struggling to win enough to keep member’s loyalty (and subverting other teams’ members), with limited finances. Most of the book is spent in deal-making for parts and intelligence and performance engineering, interspersed with about three races that demonstrate weaknesses, breaking parts and hearts, and requiring analysis and redesign.

            Book-matched Video Game: Blown is a resource-balancing game that requires matching finances and time to a race schedule. You manage all aspects of preparing for a race: ordering parts, sometimes with replacements to deal with breakage, compromising better for cheaper in some cases, determining how much fuel, time, and part wear you want to expend practicing driving each course alone or against teammates to prepare for a series of races, which affect your available resources for the next race and could even attract sponsorship and entrance to professional races (the win condition).

            Trope-based Video Game: Super Turbo is a racing game on a series of through a gritty, futuristic tracks which feature an extensive array of drive-over power-ups and hidden short-cuts, managing fuel between pitstops hoping to win enough to buy the next tier of “engine”, “tires”, “brakes” or “suspension”, to keep on your car forever. Includes paint shop utility for customized look!

            Both video games have made changes from the book, but the book-matched one does it by changing the espionage and relationship management of the book into weighing how much time and resources you’re willing to spend on practice-racing to prepare, knowing you’re burning fuel you have to buy and wearing out performance brakes and tires you’re going to have to replace, and risking breaking a part you can’t get another of or can’t get in time. The trope-based game, on the other hand, completely changes the focus from one of preparation and planning (oh and not making a mistake while driving one of the very few actually important runs) to instead a dark-mood Mario Kart with only simple upgrades and where even pretty bad drivers can place sixth enough times to eventually earn upgrades.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “It's just that the game can't give lots of exposition without breaking the tone.”

      Yes,it can.Last light explains the sides and the conflict much better because instead of you going through the dumb front lines it puts you into their headquarters.

      1. Raygereio says:

        I never felt Metro 2033 had to explain the communist-nazi thing. They aren’t a part of the story. They’re background whose single role is to provide a hurdle for Artyom to overcome.

        On the other hand Last Light does need to properly establish both sides since that conflict is a huge part of that game’s story.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          On the other other hand we end up with the feeling of “this game has your typical video game nazis”. To be fair I can see this being a complex problem, (as I understand it, haven’t played it) the devs don’t want to make the nazi-commie conflict be the driving force of the game so they don’t really want to get into the factions all too much, the scope of the game doesn’t really allow for them to add a huge, possibly branching storyline that would let the player immerse themselves in that aspect of the setting… at the same time if they remove those references they’re further divorcing themselves from the source material and it looks more and more as if they’re just borrowing the name of the books to boost the sales on their “shoot the ugly monster” FPS…

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          It doesnt have to explain food either,since that is background as well,yet it does,very expertly.

          1. Klay F. says:

            If your going to be pedantic, I’d say it doesn’t explain food very well at all. A few pigs aren’t going to feed a whole station.

            The big difference here is that you saw pigs and thought “Oh right, food source.” and never thought about it again, whereas with nazis and reds, all of a sudden you are examining every aspect.

            As Ray said above, it doesn’t explain the particulars because its not the central focus of the story. It DOES do so in Last Light because in Last Light the particulars ARE important to the story.

            Now I’m not saying these two sections belong in the game. I’d have been fine if they had simply acknowledged that a conflict exists between the two factions, and left it there. As good as the frontlines sections is gameplay-wise its still just a distraction from the story.

    3. I think Shamus might also be overthinking this a bit. In large, desperate groups, there isn’t much of a reason needed to successfully set up an “us” vs. “them” scenario that leads to conflict. Look at the religious sects that, at first blush, would seem amazingly similar, yet small differences lead to bloody strife. For a more humorous example, you might want to ask the People’s Front of Judea, but that’s opening a whole different can of spam.

      The communists vs. nazis label fits the setting and provides a handy excuse for heavily-armed factions to drape their muderous tendencies in an ideology.

      I think the problem for Shamus (the “engineer” in him) comes when applying the reasoning skills of a fairly sane individual to a more chaotic group. A mob isn’t a well-oiled machine whose purposes and parts stand up to scrutiny. Often, they’re like a stampeding herd that whoever’s in charge is lucky to steer in a general direction, much less have some amazingly clever and well-thought-out endgame that everyone follows to the letter.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        I do think it’s good to remember that people often do incredibly irrational things on a regular basis. That doesn’t justify/explain all the discrepancies, but it helps make things a bit more believable I think.

        1. True, though the initial misgivings about communism being the classical definition is probably also not the best way to look at it. I think “Stalinist,” a totalitarian outlook with a strong leader and a rigid system where (when convenient to those in charge) “the collective” follows orders together.

          Did I mention I was a poly sci major? :)

  5. Benjamin Hilton says:

    It’s actually possible to buy both the Armor vest and the stealth gear if your willing to throw down the cash..though this is really only feasible with the ranger dlc because of the money you can get by selling the weapons from the smith’s room

  6. anaphysik says:

    Josh: “A few wooden boards? Perfect! This’ll do great against any massive explosions that might barrel down the tunnel!”

    You should’ve given more khansideration to your friend’s warning :/

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      It was certainly a bit foolish of him to think that a few planks of wood could khantain the blast.

    2. Disc says:

      A piece of plywood worked well enough for those kids in Little Lamplight.

      1. MrGuy says:

        Ha, ha!
        Josh likes Little Lamp-light!
        Josh likes Little Lamp-light!

    3. Josh says:

      Hey now.

      Rotting wooden boards are always invincible in video games.

      Except for when they’re not.

  7. Garrett says:

    Underground trench warfare could be really fun. Walls falling down, tunneling and tunnel construction, sneak attacks, desperately crawling through tiny tunnel shafts and getting in a knife fight with another guy after he wrestles your gun away. Hastily built sandbag bunkers defending against clanky tanks as they fire deafening cannon rounds at each other.

    1. Cybron says:

      The older versions of Ace of Spades (a game about trench warfare that was half super basic FPS, half super basic minecraft clone) occasionally turned into this minus the tank bits. It was extremely fun.

      I miss that game. Too bad the CoD crowd got ahold of it.

  8. Alex says:

    The heavy shotgun is a rebored .50 caliber machine gun. Not bad, but the KS-23 is better. This is a shotgun made using the sawn-off barrels from a goddamn anti-aircraft tank.

    1. ET says:

      Holy macaroni, that’s a big gun!
      It only holds four freaking rounds, if you walk around with one chambered!
      Anyone know which shotgun rounds are the most common in Russia and/or the eastern European countries?
      Just curious if that gun would be more realistic to find in a post-apocalyptic world, or good old 12 gauge?
      A quick Googling seems to indicate 12 gauge worldwide as the most common, but I don’t live worldwide. :P

    2. Benjamin Hilton says:

      If this looks familiar to anyone It’s because this weapon is featured in the first Black Ops game, though single player only I believe.

  9. The Rocketeer says:

    In the time between the last episeode and this one, I have played the game, and now feel comfortable commenting on it.

    The Nazis versus Commies thing seemed dumb to me, too, but I rationalized it in two ways: first, by concluding it might have made a lot more sense in the novel (and if it does not, allow me to continue believing this), and because it highlights what seem to be an important element of the setting: that people will continue to cling to dead, otherwise powerless symbols of old-world power even after the ultimate demonstration of these entities’ failure, and will continue to embrace war and armed conflict as an ethos after the same. I heard once that the setting took a lot of notes from Fallout, and if that’s true, I think this might be one of them; I could see Ulysses running around in those tunnels, bitching about it and freaking people out with his wooden, unblinking stare.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for the way the game handles the supernatural elements: they are all dumped into this one section of the game with Khan, and they will never really come up again. There are another couple of ghosts, and a single anomaly. Other than that, once Khan parts ways with you, it’s just back to post-eschaton business as usual. I just really don’t get what they were trying to do here, with a sudden, incongruous guided ghost tour that the game seems to forget about immediately. It’s like if they had a lava level out of nowhere, with your companion mentioning the giant volcano that rose under Moscow after the war, and then the rest of the game proceeds as it already does, with maybe one glimpse of lava for the rest of the game.

    And apparently Miller and the rest of the Rangers recognize anomalies like they’re just another quirk of the tunnels, but don’t seem to believe in anything (else) supernatural? What was the game going for with this stuff? It might have been better in the books, but I’m less confident of this than of the above.

    1. Alex says:

      “And apparently Miller and the rest of the Rangers recognize anomalies like they're just another quirk of the tunnels, but don't seem to believe in anything (else) supernatural?”

      Aren’t anomalies pretty much just a fictionalised version of ball lightning? There’s quite a leap between those and actual ghosts.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Sort of… Saying the anomalies as presented in the game are just fictionalized ball lightning is like saying the ghosts are fictionalized shadows. Anomalies are freaky stuff.

    2. Klay F. says:

      Unfortunately, as much as I love it, the game suffers from the same core problems as the book does, its just being looked at from opposing sides. The book has a pretty big philosophical bent to it, add to this Artyom basically being led around by glorified tour guides for most of it and the overarching goal to hurry and destroy the dark ones results in a book with very interesting ideas, but no patience to actually explore those ideas.

      The game on the other hand has the same overarching goal, but now action has replaced most of the philosophy. You still see the glimmers of good ideas there, but now they are even more in the background than in the book.

      On the Nazis vs. Reds thing. This isn’t an important part of the story, though it IS an important part of the world. Had they just introduced the conflict and left it there, I think they would have been able to avoid this whole digression, while still touching on the important points. So basically they should have followed the book more closely here.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Honestly, I’ve come to see the ‘guided tour’ problem as fairly endemic to the entire after-the-end genre. I understand why it happens, but I really wish it would stop.

  10. Ryan says:

    The nazi iconography was pretty lazy, but it’s worth noting that it serves the purpose of complicating the morality points system by introducing and actual moral quandry: Do the nazi soldiers you end up sneaking around deserve to die? It’s sloppy, but the point is the contrast between what you expect a nazi to do and say and what these guys huddling around the fires are doing and saying.

    It’s also sort of a callback to the greater Dark Ones issue, which was framed by Alex as a psuedo-Darwinist struggle early on. That the Dark Ones take a merciful attitude towards the Nazis as a sign they can trust you shows that they don’t share the views of the Nazis; not that you would have any way of knowing that on a first time run-through, of course, so maybe that’s moot. If a bright white light flashes in the Metro, and no one is around to explain the hidden mechanic, does it give you a morality point?

  11. Ryan says:

    The guitar music is, of course, one of many atmospheric components this game shares with its big brother Shadow of Chernobyl.

    1. Disc says:

      I thought few of the various soundtrack pieces to be a bit more poignant for the overall mood of the game than the campfire guitar songs, though they’re very atmospheric in their own right.

    2. Dave B. says:

      The campfire guitar songs are my favorite part of Shadow of Chernobyl, and basically set that game’s atmosphere for me.

  12. Lord of Rapture says:

    The previous section might have been better for worldbuilding, but the Nazis versus Communists provides really fun levels for sneaking around and/or shooting. There’s a lot more tension and tactics in fighting intelligent human enemies than boring monsters that just come straight at you.

    It really sums up a lot of the problems with Metro 2033. Good atmosphere and storytelling, or fun, exciting gameplay. Pick one, but not the other.

    1. Benjamin Hilton says:

      Yeah the gameplay aspect of this level is what we were talking about further up the thread.

  13. SlothfulCobra says:

    The thing is, the post-apocalyptic setting of Metro 2033 is more about how people continue their lives as they were before the apocalypse, while most of the post-apocalyptic settings in America tend to be more escapist fantasies where everything from the old world is thrown away and forgotten. That’s all part of the charm of the setting. Children still play, people still look to religion for answers, people in bars still drink to have a good time, and people still have crazy purely ideological disagreements that they kill each other over.

    Of course, in the game, this entire section is really just a shoutout to Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and all those WWII games. It really doesn’t come off all that well, but what can you do.

  14. AJax says:

    All of Shamus’ criticisms are perfectly valid but I still really like this section because of the change in gameplay focus. We went from Doom 3 mutant shoot-fest to a full-on stealth section that have you sneaking behind two armies to get to your objective. Also I really like the dialogue between the guards in this section especially the one that points you to go below into the path that leads you to the Nazi camp.

  15. Neruz says:

    It occurs to me that the ‘morality’ points are less about morality and more about being a decent and intelligent human being.

  16. Michael says:

    The Darkness II, actually did the thing Rutskarn is talking about. The sawed off shotgun had a shell rack on the side. When you were down to the last five or six shells in reserve, you’d pull those shells and feed them into the gun.

    EDIT: Also, proof that I’m not crazy. At 8:20 Josh fires two shells from the shotgun and then reloads 3, bringing it to six rounds.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      How many you can reload depends how many are already in there and what positions they’re in on the rotation. There are six slots, but you can only access 4 of them at any given time… so if the chamber already has one you can only add the 4 more. But if the chamber is empty, you can load the 4 then rotate them to reach the two remaining empty spots.

      I was inordinately fascinated by the way it and many other guns loaded and such.

      1. Michael says:

        Except, the game’s a little weird with the sixth shell. If I remember right, when the shotgun is completely empty, and you press R, you load one shell and then cycle the action, then continue reloading. If you hold R through the reloading process, then you’ll load all four, cycle the action, and can load two more.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          The single shell reload seems to be meant for quick action – usually when you run out of shots mid-fight. The animation’s really fast too for that purpose.

  17. Spammy says:

    I wasn’t really bothered by the Commies vs. Nazis thing. The whole communist bureaucracy may be a little odd but there are still thousands of people overall in the Metro, people who are making food, water, guns, and ammo. It’s not that far fetched that you would see Communists, especially since it’s either said or hinted strongly that some of the older survivors were in the Red Army or Communist officials.

    And, well… I mean we still have Nazis now. One or two charismatic guys winds up surviving in the Metro and organize a few stations around their ideals and then some people who feel just as strongly about a different set of ideals comes along and they start fighting.

    I don’t think the trench warfare is too far stretched either, considering that you know people are only coming through certain tunnels. If you know where all the connecting tunnels are between Station A and Station B you can set up your guys to stop people from coming through. Also, I thought the next level was really fun and cool, so that made me softer on the idea.

  18. Blov says:

    The armoury bit wasn’t great (I thought the new ranger gear stuff really made the economy of the game feel a bit trivial for a bit to me) but it’s the bit right after it that I found really egregious. I half-agree with Shamus but I also think it’s kind of a look at how these people’s lack of any context and world history makes them ridiculous. The portrayal of the communists in particular seems a lot weaker than that of the Nazis (across the game as a whole) to me (like, there’s not really any presentation of what makes the communists appealing, while the nazis have got a working rail system, well-armed soldiers, a functional chain of command and are running surface patrols). I think the reinforcements thing is kind of the two factions playing at imitating the wars they’ve only ever heard of and that are actually impossible in the context they are in. I mean, the reinforcements on both sides are pretty damn paltry and neither of them really seem to be making any moves against each other.

    The thematic point is kind of obviously that you move from Cursed to Hole station where a handful of people are desperately futilely trying to save people from an apparently unstoppable inhuman threat to this scene where massive amounts of resources and talent are being spent on having pointless vehicular tunnel wars.

  19. ENC says:

    Hey Shamus, in the book all the ‘dumb luck’ is pretty much explained as the Dark Ones influencing people to do things. In the book Artyom is about to be hung by the Nazis at one point and some card-carrying Che Guevera supporters roll up and save him. He’s saved quite a bit in the game and the books, actually. Moreso in the book (especially when the Cult of the Grey Worm is involved) but it still happens in the game.

  20. psivamp says:

    I’m so glad you guys are doing this game. I made it past the first bandit encounter on easy and got bored/forgot about it. Then did the same thing again a year later.
    Knowing that there’s more to it really put me into the game and I spent last Sunday playing instead of doing schoolwork. I’ll catch up on that, but Metro 2033 really deserved that third chance from me and I’m glad that I gave it. So thanks, SW team.

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