Amid the Red Dead Redemption talk and Call of Duty conversation over at Slate.com's Gaming Club (I used to be a member, sob), here is writer Tom Bissell giving love to a game I ignored all year:
What I love about Metro 2033 is that it takes the power fantasy tropes of the first-person shooter and effectively Russianizes them. In Western shooters, typically, you progress through the game, unlocking deadlier and more accurate weapons and cooler and ever-more-neato technology. Metro 2033 says, To hell with all that. Your sniper rifle is pneumatic. You actually have to pump the thing up manually before firing it. Your bullets suck. Really good bullets are the gameworld's only currency; they're literally what you use to buy stuff. This means that, when you switch to the good bullets to fight, you're losing money. Ammunition's expensive in real life, of course, and this was the first shooter I've seen that tries to explore that fact. Also, you've got a miner's light on your helmet for use in the gameworld's underground Metros (where most of the action takes place), but the battery sucks, and it's constantly running out of juice, and, yet again, you have to manually pump a hand-held generator to brighten up the light again. This is a shooter imagined by the heirs of a resource-scarce culture, and as such it's a culturally revelatory experience. Metro blew me away.
I notice he's not saying the game is fun. Let us nevertheless all at least think about playing this game again, or, perhaps, for the first time.
The Gaming Club [Slate.com]