Saturday, July 21, 2012

Metro 2033 Review

Game:  Metro 2033
Year (s):  2010
Company:  dev.  4A Games
pub.  THQ
Engine:  4A Engine
Type:  First-Person Shooter
Metacritic Score:  81
My Score:  A poorly developed, crappy game.

Price (as of July 20, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $11.50

Game Time: Not Applicable

Obligatory Trailer:

See Also

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Review:


The player takes on the role of Artyom, who was born in Moscow right before nuclear holocaust.  Twenty years later, he remembers nothing of the surface, as the survivors have found refuge in the Moscow Metro tunnels.  Mutant attacks are on the rise, and Artyom must journey to Polis Station for help, braving monsters, bandits, dark tunnels, and the toxic surface along the way.

The plot of Metro 2033 is based on a 2005 novel of the same title by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

Who is 4A?

4A, based in Ukraine, was founded by two former members of GSC Game World a year before the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.  These two were the main creators of GSC's X-Ray Engine, so the 4A Engine they created for Metro is nearly identical (there has been some contention as to them being seperate engines).  Graphically, it's on the low end of what shooters looked like in 2010.


Ammo is scarce, and stealth is nearly a must.  Other than that, aim and fire.  The tunnels are more difficult because of darkness, and the surface (also dark) is more difficult because the player must wear a gas mask and have adequate filters while avoiding any radioactive water.  You can carry a handful of weapons and medkits.  Health will regenerate, but very slowly.  Checkpoint saving only.

The game is just as bad as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., for a lot of the same reasons.  While you might have your light off in a tunnel so dark you can't see your enemies, they'll headshot you from fifty feet away.  This, along with an amazing assortment of ineffective arms, make for a gaming experience that is much too difficult to enjoy.  If there was a quick save option, it might be bearable (that's the only way I got through S.T.A.L.K.E.R.), but there isn't one.

The game sought immersion with a lack of HUD, but failed to connect the player emotionally to the characters or their situations.  After dying twenty times in a row at the same spot, I decided I had better things to do than bang my head against this game.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

Metro: Last Light is scheduled for release in 2013.  This is a direct sequel to Metro 2033.  While author Glukhovsky had some input, the game has no relation to Metro 2034, the second novel.

Final Thoughts

It's a stinker; don't bother.  If you want a fun game set in Russia, Singularity is still the best bet.  If you want a fun post-apocalyptic game, Fallout 3 or RAGE are superior.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

BioShock 2 Review

Game:  BioShock 2
Year (s):  2010
Company:  dev.  2K Marin, 2K China
                  pub.  2K Games
Engine:   Unreal Engine 2.5 (modified) using Havok physics
Type:  First-Person Shooter with RPG and Survival Horror elements
Metacritic Score: 88
My Score:  Not Applicable

Price (as of July 17, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $8

Game Time:  Not Applicable

See Also: 

Plot, Engine, Gameplay

The game begins with you, a Big Daddy, forced to kill yourself.  Ten years later, after the events of the first game, you wake up.  Rapture is still a violent mess. 

The game looks identical to the first.  Something to note, the main developer of BioShcok, Irrational Games, was not involved in this sequel. 

Gameplay is very similar to the first, with small changes that are mostly negligible.  The hacking minigame was changed in a fashion that is impossible for the ten percent of males (like me) who are red/green colorblind.  Hacking is, at times, mandatory, so the game became unplayable after about an hour. 

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

A handful of DLC were developed, split between single- and multi- player content.  Not all of these are available for the PC. 

BioShock Infinite is due out in 2013  This is set in a steampunk floating city, and is being developed solely by Irrational Games.  It is not directly related to the other BioShock games but is set in the same universe.

Final Thoughts

I like BioShock.  I probably would have liked BioShock 2, but the hacking function left me extremely disappointed and unable to recommend this game. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dear Esther Review

Game:  Dear Esther
Year (s):  2012 (finished commercial product)
Company:  dev.  thechineseroom and Robert Briscoe
pub.  Steam
Engine:  Source
Type:  First-Person... Story
Metacritic Score:  77
My Score:  Fantastic, surreal, and unique, but requires a certain mindset.

Price (as of July 4, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $9.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  Not Available

Game Time:  2 hours

Obligatory Trailer:

Plot, Gameplay, and Atmosphere

This game is entirely plot-based.  The player explores a deserted island, interacting with nothing.  Certain spots trigger the narrator to speak.  The scenery is beautiful, and the soundtrack is perfect.  The narration isn't the same with each play, and some of it is quite obtuse.  Sometimes narration is contradictory.  In the end, it's a beautiful, trippy game that you have to be in the mood for.  While each play adds details, they don't make any clearer what is going on, so it is left to the player to make their own conclusions.


From Wikipedia:  "The original rendition of Dear Esther was one of several mods developed by thechineseroom while the studio was still a research project at the University of Portsmouth.[9] The project was funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Dan Pinchbeck, a professor and lecturer at the university."

In 2009 former DICE employee Robert Briscoe led thechineseroom in remaking the original mod, making the environment lusher and remastering the soundtrack.  When the original funds ran out, The Indie Fund stepped in.

Final Thoughts

The Good:  It's achingly well-developed, and astonishingly unique.  The end result is haunting, drawing more plays and more interest.  Cheap, and two hours are more gripping than many games achieve in twelve hours.

The Bad:  There is no final verdict as to the plot, and the lack of gameplay interaction may discourage some players.  You absolutely have to be in the mood for this, and it's best played without break.  It's short.

The Verdict:  I love this game, but I can understand if someone else hates it.  It's brilliant, but everyone won't enjoy it.  It is the best of times, and so on.  I highly recommend it with a grain of salt.