Metro 2033 EP13: Greetings & Farewell Polis

By Shamus
on Nov 8, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I can understand why the developer would want to cutscene through Polis. It’s a massive space and making it available to the player would have been expensive. You need collision hulls to keep the player from jumping out of the level. You need to populate it with people. You need to voice and lip-sync at least SOME of the people so it doesn’t feel like everyone has been lobotomized. People need to be animated so they aren’t rigid. You’d need to make a couple of new art assets because having the exact same bar with the exact same arrangement of posters in two different towns would likely be immersion-breaking. You’d also need some shopkeepers and sales chatter. (I don’t mean the gun vendors. I mean like the food vendors we see in other towns.)

If you’re worried about budget, Polis is probably the most sensible place to cut corners. Having said that, it really did sting to spend the entire game getting here only to be carried through by cutscene rails.

It’s probably hard to tell from our footage, but the cutscenes are really annoying. The game cuts you loose to shop, but if you get too close to your friend (like, maybe you were hoping to look at the OTHER half of this tiny room?) then it grabs your camera and begins the cutscene that shoves you out of town. It doesn’t even have the decency to give you a “are you ready?” prompt. The shopping is the only interactivity in all of Polis. The rest is cutscene.

A shame, really. Understandable, but a shame.

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20206Feeling chatty? There are 46 comments.

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  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I cant wait for the ending to say this:
    I REAAALLLY hate the alternate ending in metro 2033,because there is no follow up,no resolution.You stop the nukes and then….who knows?The other humans still dont understand the dark ones,so maybe they still slaughter each other.Or maybe they dont.Youll never find out.But the other ending,yeah we know what happens then,because thats the second game.So the alternate ending is utterly pointless.And for all the effort required to get it,its extremely disappointing and infuriating.

    • Astor says:

      Well, I found that ending to be satisfying. Yeah, the future is uncertain, as it can only be, but you got a satisfying conclusion. Disaster was averted, humans and Dark Ones got to a better understanding, and there’s a chance they’ll cooperate and help each other now (Artyom says something like he doubts he will be the last to communicate with them). I haven’t played Last Light, but I was a bit disappointed they defaulted to the “bad” ending, because that’s not *my* Artyom! In 2033 it was so clear the Dark Ones weren’t an enemy to be destroyed, the Artyom of Last Light must be really dumb.

      • Michael says:

        Well, he never speaks in either game, so far as I can tell. How much more “dumb” you want him? :p

      • krellen says:

        I tried to make peace with the Dark Ones, but I didn’t have a “perfect” run so that choice wasn’t available. Just pretend that’s what happened to “your” Artyom.

      • Hydralysk says:

        I think that’s one of the problems with the adaptation, they make it so obvious that the dark ones are not evil, just alien.

        In the book there are none of the hallucinations or dialogue where the dark ones are straight out speaking their feeling or helping Artyom. The closest it comes is a recurring nightmare where Artyom is walking into a dark tunnel and is never able to continue walking because the darkness, and what could be in it, is too terrifying to him. What makes the ending in the book so impactful is the fact that the only reason he gains the courage to continue into the dark tunnel and meet the dark ones is that he’s already lazed the target and the missiles are in the air. He finally understands just what his destiny was supposed to be and has a glimpse of a world where they could’ve worked together, but it’s only after he’s already destroyed that possibility through his own actions. IIRC the last lines of the book are Artyom realizing what he’s done and taking off his mask (on the surface) and just walking away laughing like a madman.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Chris education for the win!

  3. RE: Polis and Artyom’s journey:

    Yeah. For me personally, I was really fatigued by the game at this point during my first runthrough, so Polis was frustrating. I didn’t even get to buy anything since I thought I might be able to go places and I walked right into the next cutscene. Then when I found out I had to do more slogging and all I could do was sigh. The Library was extremely frustrating, because for the second time I got majorly lost/stuck in TWO places within this area. The first time (when you go to the surface to play the warning message for Polis) I pretty much burned through all my filters. So when I did figure out the trouble spots in the Library I was literally living filter to filter as I went. Then the Librarians….

    … ugh…

    They tell you never to break eye contact with them, but the bloody things never lost interest in me. Then they’d walk up to me, with my back against the wall, and continue to stare. Then they would attack. This happened pretty much every single time, so I gunned them all down on Easy.

    I’ve been enjoying the game more on my second runthrough since this season started (and this season has been a major part in helping me appreciate it more), but I did NOT have a good first impression the farther in I got, back in the day.

    SIDENOTE: Here in the Library, one of the characters finds Roadside Picnic on a shelf. This is another Easter Egg, and what I believed the game was originally based off of, because as I hear it, the Metro team was part of the STALKER team that left mid-development to do their own thing. I assumed Metro 2033 was trying to be STALKER without being STALKER, with both games being based off that story. I only recently heard of the Metro 2033 novel–and only at the start of this season did I hear the game was based off this novel. Considering the influences and the history, I’m assuming the Metro author was perhaps inspired by Roadside Picnic (even if there isn’t much to compare between the two works). And I also find it funny how closely all this stuff lined up with one another: STALKER, team split, Metro novel, Metro game, etc. Kind of surprised Josh hasn’t mentioned Roadside Picnic.

    • Ryan says:

      I suspect that the Stalkers of the novel were inspired by either Roadside Picnic directly or Tarkovsky’s Stalker. The Strugatsky brothers were pretty influential.

      The idea from which Roadside Picnic gets its title, that the Zones were sites of extraterrestrial visitation and that artifacts are careless leftovers from their visit, could be made parallel to the Dark Ones’ devastation of the Metro being an unintentional side effect of their mere presence; it’s very Lovecraftian.

      • Dave B. says:

        I agree with this idea. I’ve been reading Roadside Picnic recently (recommended, BTW) and while this game doesn’t have a lot of exact parallels to it, the two works feel very similar. The grim setting, the anomalies, the mutants, and the threat from an alien (but not malicious) source.

        I would be very surprised if the Metro novel was not inspired in some direct way by Roadside Picnic or Stalker.

  4. Smejki says:

    And Metro LL suffers from this too. There are so many triggers which cut you off the rest of the level without warning or clarity that it forced me to play as some freaking obsedant compulsive explorer who needs to check every dark corner twice before proceeding.

    • Naota says:

      This is the reason that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow will forever be my nemesis in gaming.

      Often is the case that you’re given a choice between two or three hallways, doors, or potential exits. Two will contain permanent loot, powerups, and character upgrades. The other one will contain a cutscene that starts at an arbitrary point halfway to any visible exit from the area, whisks you off to a different area completely, and locks the door behind you so that you can’t go back.

    • Mephane says:

      I like to call this anti-feature the Surprising Cutscene Of No Return (bonus points if it cannot be skipped). It is what initially taught me to save often, even in completely safe environments, to loot first and have conversations later and complete all side quests before even entering the vicinity of anything that looks like a main quest objective from the distance. One step too far, poof, cutscene, no way back, quickload; immersion broken, too.
      If the game does not allow manual saving (boo), there is Alt+F4 or, when unsure whether this has the game save the gamestate as if after the cutscene, I directly kill process. This also has the positive side effect of giving me time to think about uninstalling.

  5. Paul Spooner says:

    Oh man, lore snobs, they’ve been around forever… Elder Trolls!

  6. MrGuy says:

    Did you say D6?

    You hit my submarine.

    E5

  7. krellen says:

    I noticed Josh did get a bit lost for a moment at the point where I first died in the Library – not to any monsters, but because I ran out of filters.

    See, the game does a really really poor job of drawing attention to that chandelier you have to swing into the door, so I spent over half an hour running back and forth through the Library trying to figure out how to get that door open.

    I was so frustrated by the experience that it was nearly where my playthrough of Metro ended. Fortunately, it’s apparently enough of a sticking point that it only took a few minutes for me to find a video showing me what to do, so I got back to it the next day and finished it out.

    • Corpital says:

      It’s often lamented players refuse to look around and especially up and what tricks devs have to use to counter that, but that chandelier didn’t even try. If anything, the faint use-me-glow makes that thing less visible with the fogged mask on.
      It really is strange, because the game usually did an excellent job of showing me where to look.

    • A very similar thing happened to me, but I never went to YouTube or anything. I eventually looked up by accident, but it wasn’t until later after that when I shot at it out of curiosity or boredom.

      • Irridium says:

        I figured it out because I looked at the achievements before I played the game. One of them was “shoot the chandelier in 30 seconds” or something similar. When I got to the part and had no idea what to do, I figured I may as well look up and check and there it was.

        • MrGuy says:

          That…actually makes me a lot less charitably inclined towards the developers.

          To create such an achievement, you have to be aware that most people have a hard time figuring out what to do next in this segment, that most people do NOT get this quickly.

          When you become aware that you’ve created something that confuses the heck out of people, I suppose you have two ways to approach it. One would be to create an achievement for those lucky/intuitive enough to figure it out. Another would be to FIX YOUR GAME so players don’t get stuck unsure what to do next.

          Kinda disappointed they went with the first option…

    • Mephane says:

      the point where I first died in the Library – not to any monsters, but because I ran out of filters. […] so I spent over half an hour running back and forth through the Library trying to figure out how to get that door open.

      Thank you. You just saved me from ever buying this game. Actually, I wouldn’t even install it if it were free. This kind of game design… so you get punished because it takes you some time to figure something out? So the most effective way is to save at the start of an area, figure everything out, reload and then rush through the objectives? It may sound stupid, but if its is this or running through more of an essential limited consumable resource, I’d always meta-game in favor of being as efficient as possible with said resource. Which means that half-way through the game, probably much earlier, I’d get so fed up that I’d be angry at myself for wasting my time with this nonsense.

  8. Corpital says:

    I don’t know, how I feel about the Librarians. Every time they are mentioned, they are described as barely killable beasts with incredible speed and strength. And their appearance in the game is very good, a great beast that slowly follows and kills you, but…well, the first one was shot in filterless panic with the allmighty shotgun and died pretty quick. And so did all the other ones, let them come close, six shots to the face (easy to aim thanks to them walking slowly towards you) and the thing’s gone. They were a big let down.

    These root-like things on the ceiling, that Josh dodged without even blinking, on the other hand creeped me out. Didn’t see most of them and flew straight into panic mode, after they attacked.

    • Klay F. says:

      The problem is the shotgun. Before the patch that added the Ranger Modes, shotguns were basically useless, and there was no heavy shotgun with which to roflstomp your way through. Even now, if you try to kill a Librarian with anything other than a shotgun or volt driver, you’ll soon find yourself out of ammo. The first time I went through the game, this section was my favorite, as I didn’t have a shotgun with me, and actually had to play by the rules.

      • Jarppi says:

        Overpressured pneumatic guns will also bring those librarians down quite easily. Tihar has so cheap ammo that you should have it enough to get through this part and helsing’s darts can be reused.

        Btw. Did anyone else miss the “look them in to eyes” -speech / tutorial thing at the first playthrough? It kind of made this level very annoying back then.

        • Corpital says:

          Didn’t know the Ranger patch changed that many things for this section. Neat to know. Actually, I’ll try again without shotguns, the Kalash seemed quite capable to do the job with a few hundred rounds. After all, quantity has a quality all its own.

          “Look then in the eyes”-speech: missed it, but was already spoilered. Missed a lot of the banter there the first time, thanks to heavy breathing and filter panic.

        • Henson says:

          Ohmygod yes. Missed so much chatter due to filter panic. It’s okay, since the ‘stare them in the eyes’ thing totally never worked for me.

          Filter panic was the most harrowing for me during at the tower at the end. But I liked that panic. In retrospect. During that last section. I think.

  9. That guy in the preview image SO looks like Will Smith.

  10. Bonus point for Rutskarn doing a pretty nice premature bullet expulsion pun there, you could almost hear Josh blush.

  11. SlothfulCobra says:

    I think the main reason that developers like to make protagonists jaded and depressed is because it’s hard to reconcile the fact that they’ve killed literally hundreds of people, any characters close to them are constantly in danger, and people are constantly trying to kill them with an upbeat attitude. That kind of stuff would wear most people down, and if all that stuff doesn’t affect them after a while, it takes away from a character’s believability.

    Saint’s Row has the characters just embrace and revel in the suffering around them, which gets a bit disturbing after a while.

  12. Ygor says:

    I’m still surprised they made this game work so good as they had, since Artyom in the books was kind of dragged from one place to another. There was very little shooting, the nazis and commies were brutal but Artyom never got into an open firefight with them (IIRC- was a while since I’ve read the books). Artyom rarely fights in the book against monsters also.
    But looking at the gameplay, they somehow managed to convey this feeling of tiredness on the player that’s very similar to what the books were doing.

    And Library was a very good spooky place in the books.

  13. Nano Proksee says:

    I love when Artyom leans forward when he enters the gallery before the council meeting and the guard is like “Nop, this way…”
    Is like the developers are acknowledging the fact that you are on rails in a place that invites exploration.

  14. MrGuy says:

    One thing I liked was NOT showing the council deliberations.

    Pretty much every time I’ve seen a game try to show a “council” debating actions, it’s virtually always hackneyed soundbites from carboard cutout stereotypes. It never seems real, and the “consensus” seems to always have been pre-determined and/or arrived at telepathically. Plus the most complex of decisions can always be reached in the timespan of a cutscene.

    I think the trick of cutting to the clock to show “there were four hours of debate” without trying to capture on camera was really smart. By the time it took, we know it’s a complicated issue, and that there were people on both sides. We know the issue was considered in depth. We know there was nuance. We can picture it, and picture it with much more complexity than they could possibly have showed.

    Of course, then they ruin by coming out of the section with the NPC giving a really contrived recap of what was decided to someone who was right there in the room and clearly already knew.

    If they’d ended the post-council speech at “Unbelievable!” it would have probably been enough to know which way the decision went. If you want to be obvious, drop a “Perhaps the council won’t help your station, but I know another way…” to introduce the library quest.

    • anaphysik says:

      Hate Plus has some pretty good ‘council debate’ segments. Now, they’re all just snippets of the much larger conversation, and they’re records of the past, but they work way better than most such scenes in fiction.

      • Bungie did the exact same thing, only showing snippets of the debate between the Forerunner AI, Mendicant Bias, and (presumably) the Gravemind in Halo 3. You wanted more but you knew exactly what was going on and why it took the turn it did. It was fascinating.

        I’ve never stopped to think about this approach specifically in this way, but it seems to be the most effective execution in stories. Well, I guess unless you’re a super smart dude who can write pages and pages of dialogue. But at that point, I suspect it’s more of a story about opposing ideologies, or a sidetrack at least. But also… the council of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings (book) worked really well.

        • Soylent Dave says:

          The Council of Elrond works largely because it’s “on rails”, I think.

          I mean, obviously it’s on rails – it’s a book – but for the characters involved, the Council’s decision has already been determined before anyone starts speaking.

          Elrond (and Gandalf) know that there’s only one choice available, they just let the other participants come up with their ideas, and shoot them down until their choice is the only one remaining.

          (even though their idea is, on the face of it, utterly insane)

          “We have but one Doom before us”

  15. Bearded Dork says:

    I had a playthrough ending filter problem in that very first above ground section. I did not interpret “buy a couple filters” to mean “buy all of the filters” and then I got lost and hit an autosave a few seconds before my last filter died. It was sad I was having fun, but I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and start over right away. I can’t wait to get back to it though.

    • Ben Hilton says:

      The worst part is that if you do buy all the filters then the game won’t let you pick up any more even if you are running low for most of the rest of the game so you still have the possibility of being S.O.L. filter-wise at some point.

      • Bearded Dork says:

        That’s a concern for me, if I have a similar situation later in the game I know I won’t try again.

      • This game also has one of the worst autosave systems I have seen. My recent playthrough to try and get all the “good” points was completely ruined when I was trying to sneak past the Reds and Nazis, and the game saved IMMEDIATELY after the Nazis spotted me. I couldn’t load back, and restarting the level from the menu would lose me all my progress. Ten hours of work was lost. Gone. All for nothing.

        I can’t stand it when devs do this. I mean, even bad autosave systems from other games know at least not to kick in when the player is in “danger”. And Metro couldn’t even get that right.

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