On Rails: Hands-On With Metro 2033

By Alec Meer on February 4th, 2010 at 6:54 pm.

Hey! Stop that, you’ve got it wrong: this is not Stalker by another name. In fact, it’s not Stalker to the extent that, were you to say “Is this like Stalker?” to one of the ex-Stalker developers behind it, they’d probably punch you in the the nose, walk to the top of the nearest mountain and then scream in raw fury at the skies until someone shot them up with enough tranquilisers to knock out a blue whale. It’s very determinedly not like Stalker, and I can’t imagine how many times the poor dears have had to bat away the same questions and presumptions. Metro 2033 is a post-apocalyptic shooter set in mutant-strewn modern Russian, but it’s not open-world survival fantasy. It’s a strictly linear first-person shooter, albeit with a touch of shopping and soaking up the atmosphere of civilian settlements in between dealing death to things that go bump in the subterranean perma-night. It’s Half-Life, it’s Bioshock, it’s Call of Duty – it’s anything but Stalker.

What it most evokes, I think, is Cryostasis with an enormous budget – a similarly ominous trek through a dead world, broken up by irregular, startling bouts of extreme violence. It’s more determinedly an action game than that, with puzzling kept to a bare minimum while enjoying dramatically superior production values and pacing. There’s definitely a commonality in terms of how it approaches environment-as-horror. It’s something to do with making the game’s world and atmosphere so intrinsically devoid of life and human hope – kind of like visiting Reading – that injecting the openly fantastical into it feels entirely convincing. The mutants and ghosts don’t need rationalisation here. In a world this dead, this hostile, it only makes sense that they’re there.

It is a story of humanity nonetheless, not simply a journey into nothingness. You play as a young chap called Artyom, who was born just before the nuclear holocaust hit. 20 years later, he and what’s left of Moscow’s population dwell in the tunnels and stations of its underground system, carving out a sad life of subsistence and violence, and divided into warring factions. The pacifists, the communists, the neo-Facists… Each have their own territory, with their own laws.

There’s no overall ruler, just surly tolerance between some of these tribes, and open hostility between others. Your journey takes you through the zones and stations occupied by the more dangerous, extremist Metro tribes, unsurprisingly – and into the mutant and ghost-ridden tunnels that link them. And, on occasion, onto the frozen, lifeless world above – an oddly beautiful but palpably awful scene, like a Christmas card from a deathcamp. There’s no human life there, but there are Marie Celestian scenes – an office with a PC still at every desk, a train station whose intact electronic ticket barriers will never again feed on cardboard rectangles. Such things are of no use to the stark world below, and so they remain on the beast-roamed surface.

I played, for the record, around two hours of Metro 2033 – during that time, it was unfailingly good-looking, most especially in the civilian hub segments. While there’s no real interaction to be had with any of the dishevelled populace, there’s an impressive amount of incidental detail, stuff that doesn’t strictly need to be there but which makes the world so much more convincing because it is. The pens full of unhealthy-looking pigs, the arguing couples, the bleak, sweaty kitchens, the jerry-rigged machinery for lighting, warmth and transportation… It’s perhaps the benefit of the source material being a novel (out in English in March), something that has already laid out how this grim society functions: in these sections, it feels like a real place. Imagine Rapture if it had avoided anarchy but plunged headlong into poverty -an enclosed, subsistent populace making the best of the little they’ve got.

It is a shame, I can’t help but feel, that 4A have created so much but allowed only the most token interface with it. There are weapons and weapon upgrades to be bought (neatly, the currency is bullets – a scarce commodity in this claustrophobic world) and some lost souls will spit out a bleak bon mot if you hit Use on them, but other than that these areas exist purely to create context. This isn’t a shooter with RPG elements. It’s a shooter. But it’s a shooter with imagination, with a strong sense of place and journey – Bioshock and Half-Life 2 are sturdier touchstones than, say, Modern Warfare 2.

It’s not purely Put The Crosshair On The Man/Monster’s Head – occasional stealth missions involve sticking to the shadows, and avoiding noise-maker traps such as cans on strings and broken glass underfoot. It’s always possible to blast your way through like a traditional meat-grinder FPS hero, but it’s a slick and appealing approach to creeping around. The interface helps – no health meters, ammo counts or magic radars, but instead everything monitored via your character’s watch and notepad/map. Ammo is visible on and around your gun, so you need to keep an eye on that to tell if you’re running low – which you will be, all the damn time. It’s not an especially high body-count game in the grand scheme of digi-killing, but even so you need to be exceedingly careful with the bullets you find. There’s some things you really don’t want to be trying to take down with a knife.

As mentioned earlier, bullets are also money in Metro’s resource-starved settlements, but slightly confusingly there’s a distinction between valuable, military-grade ammo and the less effective homemade stuff. I’d have thought it would have been better to have one general pool, but perhaps that’s proved untenable in QA. Now, you have the choice between, say, loading your shotgun with shells that can take down a giant rat-thing fast, or of having at it with several, low-grade shots and saving the good stuff to trade in for a weapon upgrade – such as a stock or silencer. Sometimes, you won’t have a choice, finding yourself out of everyday ammo and being forced to shoot your precious money into a Neo-Nazi’s eyeball if you want to survive. It’s an interesting mechanic, even if it seemed slightly muddled during my time with the game.

Another precious, curious resource was gas mask filters, necessary to keep your lungs from having a funny turn when traipsing through gas-filled areas and the great and terrible outdoors. Overuse detoriates these filters, lessening the amount of time your good air supply lasts for, so scavenging and trading for them is an important, but also scattily-explained, part of survival. Oh, and the mask’s glass screen can crack too, so remember to take it off when it’s not needed – i.e. whenever something big, hairy and carnivorous launches itself claws-first at your tasty face-flesh.

The effect of the general shortage of resources makes Metro 2033 a little hard to call for now – at times, my situation felt as desperate and urgent as it should in such a damaged world, but at others just a little frustrating. There’s an awful lot of scripting and it’s all checkpoint-based, meaning there can be a fair bit of grueling repetition if you hit a tricky stretch, and even the occasional punishing instant death situation. A monster popping up in exactly the same place every time can mess up the they’re-coming-outta-the-goddamn-walls vibe, but hopefully the regular pinging between out-and-out action, stealth, hallucinatory spooks and on-vehicle Alamo moments will keep it sufficiently varied.

I was particularly taken with the spectral elements, the things you can’t fight – the ghost train rushing by you that’s just headlights, windows and thunderous noise, the shadowy silhouettes of doomed army’s ghosts, the shadowy echo-memory of a long-limbed beast chasing down a child screaming for its mother… There a Stalker comparison is apt – such moments are reminiscent of the unsettling, displacing psychic attack scenes, where reality and hallucination bled into each other. Given the plot involves Artyom’s journey to best/understand the murderous psychic mutants called the Dark Ones, I’m pretty sure we’re in for many such haunting vignettes.

What stands out the most, though, is how lavish it is – the creepy lighting, the impressively there sound design, even the writing and (English, but Russian-accented) voice acting. I’d expected the worst of those latter, but in what I saw it doesn’t suffer from the all-too-common problem of inexpert translation. That said, I was told there’ll hopefully be an option to play with Russian dialogue and English subtitles. It’s not been confirmed yet, but I really hope it makes it in -it’ll further ramp up the otherworldly menace of the thing, the sense that you’re journeying through the unknown, something that isn’t the standard Western shooter-world. In a lot of ways, this stomp down a deadly trainline is incredibly traditional, but, going on the presentation, it’s going to be an on-rails journey well worth making.

It’s not Stalker. I mean, it even has women in it.

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90 Comments »

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  1. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    So….s this like Stalker?
    /coat

  2. Brulleks says:

    Sounds intriguing, though I can’t help but shudder with irritation when I read the word ‘checkpoints’.

    What happened to the good old quicksave? It’s such a vital mechanic for ensuring immersion in a gameworld – don’t make me play through the same area time and time again. It ruins the illusion and the enjoyment. I don’t understand why so many developers are insisting on not using it anymore.

    • Dominic White says:

      What happened to quicksaves? Developers realised it was effectively an unrestricted ‘undo’ button. With liberal use of it, anyone can cheese through any fight on any difficulty.

      I remember as a kid, I thought I was hot shit for getting through games on the harder settings. Sure, I was quicksaving/loading fifty times a level, and completing with no misses, full health, etc, and sure it felt like a hollow, pointless victory just short of putting on god mode, but I WON LEGIT NO CHEATS HAHAHAHA.

      Ever since games started using checkpoints, I found games started to get a lot better balanced. There were fewer bullshit instant deaths, fewer overpowered enemies. Better health systems and placement of items. Combat was broken up into logical segments which flowed into each other but never overlapped. Not only that, but actually beating a game started to mean something, as you couldn’t load/save-cheese your way through the whole thing and neuter the difficulty as you went.

      Checkpoints are damn good game design. Some games nailed it better than others – anathema to the PC purists, but Halo actually rejigs each combat areas enemy placement and AI states every time you die, so that it’s a different-but-similar challenge each time, rather than trial and error against the same situation.

    • Flint says:

      If you enjoy the challenge of having the constant risk of requiring to play perhaps significantly long sections after the grim reaper beckons you, that’s cool. But then there’s us who enjoy the safety net of quick save because it suits our gaming preferences.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Brulleks

      A-freaking-men. While checkpoints CAN be used well, they usually aren’t, and the vast majority of the time they mean replaying the same segment of game over and over again to get to the bit that’s giving you trouble. I’ll only tolerate so much of that, before the game just ends up unfinished on a shelf somewhere. There’s something to be said for not allowing quicksaves while in the middle of a firefight, to avoid the kind of cheese Dominic is talking about, but by and large more saving freedom is better than less.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Checkpoints came before and were much better represented at the time than saves. In fact the Japanese got actual saves for Metroid while we got glorified checkpoint codes.

      Saves are better.

    • Shalrath says:

      “What happened to quicksaves? Developers realised it was effectively an unrestricted ‘undo’ button. With liberal use of it, anyone can cheese through any fight on any difficulty.”

      I guess Developers also forgot to realise that the average gamer is now over 25, and that a lot of us have children. And that means not playing uninterrupted, hour-long levels. If I need to get up and go, I don’t have time to ‘look for the checkpoint.’ Also, not a single company ever made it through a game without putting a checkpoint BEFORE a long, arduous cutscene-to-boss-fight, instead of after.

    • jalf says:

      Developers realised it was effectively an unrestricted ‘undo’ button. With liberal use of it, anyone can cheese through any fight on any difficulty.”

      Coming to you straight from the “The important thing about games is not that the player enjoys them, but that the developer gets the satisfaction of punishing the player” school of game design.

    • qrter says:

      @Dominic

      I’m sorry, but what a bunch of twaddle. I play a game for my own sense of fun, not because I have to beat it according to some unattainable Platonic ideal of how a game should be won.

      Checkpoint systems will always overlook problems individual players will encounter – each player has his or her own weaknesses, a checkpoint system can never account for all of them. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game with checkpoints that I didn’t run into more than a few spots that made me wonder why there wasn’t a damn checkpoint right there, where I personally could’ve REAAAALY used one..

      In the end it’s about giving the player a choice – give us checkpoints AND a quicksave system. You can avoid quicksaving, I can create my own checkpoints. We’re all happy.

    • Tei says:

      Quicksaves are ultra simple, just a integer. Wen your game device don’t have a massive storage, the ability to save the state of the game with a integer seems more interesting, so games for videogame machines that don’t have hard disk use quicksaves.
      These “dev’s” you are talking about, probably are console developers.

    • bbot says:

      Hey, commenting nerds: There is no bright line between “quicksave” and “checkpoint”. It’s the same thing! When you die, you revert back to an earlier part of the game.

      The only difference between the two is that you can choose where to make a quicksave, but checkpoints are determined for you.

      In practice the difference between a quicksave and a checkpoint is that checkpoints tend to be farther apart, so you repeat more of the game when you die.

    • DrazharLn says:

      @ bbot

      So… you’re saying that they’re basically the same because they’re both saving systems?

      Doesn’t that strike you as a bit daft if we are comparing the two?

      The difference that you choose where a quicksave goes is pretty major.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Hey, commenting nerds!

      There is no difference between shotguns and pistols.

      When you shoot them, people die.

    • Amnesiac says:

      I think Mass Effect 2 (and probably many others) got around this by not allowing quicksaves during active combat. So you avoid the situation of “right I’ll get behind this wall then quicksave” Being able to quicksave at any moment you’re in danger takes away alot of tension from a game.

    • Zerotime says:

      Lilliput King: Not in Borderlands there isn’t!

      (unless the shotgun fires rockets, that is)

    • Bret says:

      And by that criteria, smartguns and pistols are the same.

      And that libel, well…

      I call for pistols at dawn! Or rather, pistols versus smartguns at dawn. I get the smartgun.

    • Remer says:

      I know this has pretty much been stated before, but I think all saving should be designed so that it is disabled once an enemy has acquired the player. I don’t mean specific time frames in which saving is prohibited. I’m talking about some kind of quick-save AI director that decides when you save. If a company devoted a whole program to it, the game could turn out to be really immersive and flowing.

    • baron says:

      I was exploring outside then i realised my gas mask filters running out ,i was searching frantically for more filters or some underground entreance ,instead i found myself on a scripted fight and a damn CHECKPOINT save…just 10 second before i fell dead ,out of air.Game over for me..

  3. HexagonalBolts says:

    Reading has NOTHING on Slough or Maidenhead.

  4. Vinraith says:

    @Alec Meer

    Any idea how long the full game is? That is, any notion of how much of the game your 2 hours really represented?

    Thanks for the review, it sounds like the atmosphere, production values, and unusual quirks may elevate this above “ignorable linear FPS” after all.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s not a review – it’s a preview of the first two hours.

      Not sure quite how long the full thing is, but I saw a list of level names at one point that I would take a totally wild guess as being your standard 10-12 hours.

    • Bhazor says:

      So your best guess is that the game is average length.
      Masterful journalistic probing there Alec.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alec Meer

      Thanks for the estimate. Yes, I understand it’s not a review in the sense that a games journalist would use the term, and I understand why you draw the distinction.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Bhazor: getting a good sense of the game is infinitely more important than nailing down every stray fact that anyone in a comments thread might ask about. And, frankly, the how long is it question is never one I’ve found very interesting or relevant.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Pedant watch: It was a “totally wild” guess, not a “best” guess.

    • Vinraith says:

      I really didn’t intend for this to become something controversial or adversarial. I was just trying to figure out whether the Half Life 2/Bioshock analogy applied to the scale of the thing, or whether it was more likely to fall into the “usual” linear shooter category.

    • 12kill4 says:

      I dont know about you guys, but I like my games to last at least as long as it will take for me to be physically living within the same time period the game is set in. (fortunately I believe time is cyclical, so you WWII shooter devs just need to make them a few trillion years longer and you’ll be good. )

    • Remer says:

      It’s 10 hours long, guys. I read that in a later review where the writer played the whole thing.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Remer

      Thanks, that’s good to know.

  5. Heliocentric says:

    Its like heroes of might and magic:dark messiah with guns. Amirite?

    • Veldjes! says:

      @Heliocentric
      No, it’s Stalker goes underground but not like Stalker at all… man, i’m confused

  6. Radiant says:

    That looked great!
    When is it out?

    • dadioflex says:

      Can’t say I’ve noticed it recently, but too many games had a checkpoint save just before an unskippable cutscene, followed by a dialogue choice, all of which had to be repeated every time you died.

  7. parker says:

    Looks promising, and I’ll pretty much play anything that has any connection to “people who made STALKER” but I had been hoping that this would be more of an open-world affair like STALKER and less of a conventional, but atmospheric, FPS ala Bioshock.

  8. jti says:

    This is very interesting. Modern Russia is an excellent setting for shooter. The best things about Half Life 2 looked a lot like some forgotten Russian industrial cities. I loved that look and what I see here, it might be a nice one.

  9. MattWBP says:

    I think the AvP re-release got it right. You have a limited amount of quicksaves per level ontop of the automatic checkpoints.

    This allowed for proper level structure, a level of tension and value to the player life and the ability to, if absolutely necessary – save to continue later.

  10. Popular Energy Drink says:

    Metro 2033 is another game I look forward to.

    Also in regards to the Russian-with-english-subs dealie, a twitter post confirms it’ll be available for us that want it.

  11. Jad says:

    Haven’t read through the whole thing yet but just want to say thank you for finally slamming down on those “So, its Stalker, right?” comments. It’s even worse on more console-focused sites, where every comment is “Yay, another Fallout!”

    Genres in books, movies, etc. are defined a great deal by their settings: sci-fi, western, inner-city, etc. (they obviously are also defined by “action”, “drama”, “romance”, too, but anyway). Game genres are very much defined by their systems: someone who loved Company of Heroes would be much better served by, say, Dawn of War than by COD: World at War. WWII is not a genre, RTS is a genre.

    Post-apocalypse is not a genre.

    Anyway, on to read the rest of the hands-on.

  12. Babs says:

    I think it depends on the game personally. If the game is trying for any sort of suspense or tension then quicksaving can absolutely ruin it. On the other hand a poorly balanced game with badly placed checkpoints can be a nightmare, but that is the fault of the developers not the checkpoint system.

    So while quicksaving has it’s place I would argue that a well implemented checkpoint system will make a good game shine, and for the sort of game that Metro seems to be it’s not a bad choice.

    • qrter says:

      One of the most tense and suspenseful games of the last couple of years for me has been Stalker (which Metro 2033 is nothing like, ofcourse).

      It had a quite lovely quicksave system.

      (Not saying the checkpoint system won’t work well, btw.)

  13. Babs says:

    That’s the first time I’ve ever messed up a reply, it was intended for the checkpoint debate above obviously.

    Bugger it.

  14. The Walker says:

    I wonder if the fact that the main character’s name anagrams to “martyr” is a coincidence.

  15. 1nightstand says:

    So they ditched the monsters-caught-by-your-flashlight-will-freeze-in-their-place game-play mechanic?
    :(

  16. G says:

    ALL: GO, read the book when it comes out. It’s awesome!

    • Mr.President says:

      ALL: GO, read the book when it comes out. It’s awesome!

      I respectfully disagree; me and most of my friends thought it was complete rubbish.

    • Nickiepoo says:

      Two opposing opinions with nothing to back them up, WHICH ONE DO I CHOOSE?!

  17. Brian says:

    @AlecMeer

    Did you notice anything wonky about the hit detection? Other previews have mentioned that Metro 2033’s less-than-precise hit detection made the ammo scarcity even more troublesome than the developers probably intended.

  18. Vinraith says:

    @bbot

    There is no bright line between “quicksave” and “checkpoint”.

    One is active, one is passive. Simple.

  19. jsutcliffe says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    In practice the difference between a quicksave and a checkpoint is that checkpoints tend to be farther apart, so you repeat more of the game when you die.

    Only when you remember to save. :(

    I’m so used to checkpoints/autosaves that when a game *doesn’t* implement them, I often find myself screwed the first few times I die.

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      “I’m so used to checkpoints/autosaves that when a game *doesn’t* implement them, I often find myself screwed the first few times I die.”

      Ouch, yes. Last night I revisited “Fallout 3″ after a long while away and did a defence mission (from one of the addons). At the end, the guy I was defending stood on one of my frag mines and started attacking me. Once dead, I realised my previous save was a long while before.

      P.

  20. Ygmtke says:

    [quote]What happened to quicksaves? Developers realised it was effectively an unrestricted ‘undo’ button. With liberal use of it, anyone can cheese through any fight on any difficulty.

    I remember as a kid, I thought I was hot shit for getting through games on the harder settings. Sure, I was quicksaving/loading fifty times a level, and completing with no misses, full health, etc, and sure it felt like a hollow, pointless victory just short of putting on god mode, but I WON LEGIT NO CHEATS HAHAHAHA.[…][/quote]

    I remember as a teen, I thought I was hot shit for pulling stuff out of my ass and act like I was an expert on topics I didn’ t know jack about on the Internet.

    Seriously though, that was embarrassing to read. Anyone who played video games in the 80s, or hell, even in the 90s should know checkpoints were there first (along with passwords, which is pretty much the same thing in a different coating), quicksaves came in later. You really shouldn’t pretend to know about video game history and assume why developers do the things they do if your first game played was on the PS2, frankly this ranks up there with “omg LOTR is totally a WoW ripoff!”.

    • Gpig says:

      @Ygmtke People who first started playing videogames in the early 90s would be pushing 30 by now. Cheers.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I am 19, thank you very much.

  21. LionsPhil says:

    No no, Warhammer is a ripoff of Warcraft. Those Games Workshop bastards and their time machine!

    Tei seems to have quicksaves and checkpoints backwards, but checkpointing—at least at boundaries between areas you can’t return to, and even more so when you can’t take equipment with you and such things—are simpler for lazy or hilariously-storage-constrained developers than having to serialise out the state of every item and creature in the level (or world!).

    Real Men™ use Rogelike save systems, anyway. You can save to stop playing and go do things in the real world whenever, but you can’t reload if you die. (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri actually made this optional when starting a game: “Iron Man” mode.)

  22. Hump says:

    Gears of War then?

  23. The Dark One says:

    Your description of the factions eking out their lives in the underground reminded me a lot of Heart of the Comet, except of course, that it’s set in a Russian metro system and not a slushy ball in space. I’m more interested in the game now than I was before.

    • Polysynchronicity says:

      That was a good book, too. David Brin is the best.

  24. negativedge says:

    This is one of those rare games that I’m actually quite excited about. Russia, we pin all our PC gaming hopes on your emerging brilliance.

  25. Gpig says:

    I hate to side with Dominic on anything, but everyone who says that unlimited quicksaves with no limitations is a good thing is wrong. Oh hey I’m cracking a safe in bioshock? f6. didn’t work. f7. didn’t work. f7. unlocked. moving on. Quicksaves need some limits if a developer doesn’t have time to tweak a checkpoint system properly. System Shock wouldn’t be the same with quicksave, neither would Resident Evil.

    It’s funny to see people complaining about the idea of checkpoints just a few weeks after VVVVVV came out and was praised for its checkpoints.

    • Taillefer says:

      The point is that it’s your choice. As abusing the system is also your choice.

      I have no problem with either way, but do tend to prefer if a game is limiting me on the saves to add to the tension, but there’s no reason to force my way of playing on anybody else. If devs didn’t want people to abuse the system in the way you stated, they could perhaps let you save anywhere, but only let you load the game if you die, or something. It would certainly help with gambling abuse in RPGs.

      VVVVVV checkpoints were praised because there were so many of them, repetition after death was literally seconds of play, rather than 30 minutes. Then it cleverly used them as part of a puzzle too.

      Anyway! I am excited about this game!

  26. Miles of the Machination says:

    The whole minimalist interface design is definitely a big point for me because I’m really quite eager to see how something like that can contribute towards immersion and general atmosphere. Other than that, its apparently high level of polish is almost reminiscent of Modern Warfare 2, except with a stable and intriguing idea.

  27. bill says:

    @Brulleks & @Dominic White & @ the Quicksave vs Checkpoint thread*:

    Actually, I think Dominic makes some fair points about how checkpoints allow devs to better manage the pacing, difficulty and provide a better experience. But, and it’s a BIG but, the problem is that it only works the first time.

    I also remember quicksaving my way through a lot of early FPS games. I remember beating almost a whole level in Doom2 on 1% health, by quicksaving every 2 seconds and reloading any time I got hit.
    The problem is that the devs then have to factor this play in, and then the enemies end up being so difficult that there’s no way to beat them, except by doing the quicksave/load thing if you make the slightest mistake. Not so satisfying.

    On the other hand, I was recently posting in one of those “games you hate” threads at GOG, and I realised that my list of “most frustrating moments” was entirely made up of games that made me replay things too many times. They were often good games, which made me keep trying, but replaying the same long level section 50 times and dying near the end each time isn’t much fun. And as others have said, real life often intrudes on gaming. (sorry Tei, that’s why you can’t have mice things!).

    For FPS games, my suggestion would be as follows: Make Medkits into saves.
    Have Farcry2/Predator/Dark Corners style medkits that have an animation and take a little time to apply. This means you can’t spam them and have to take cover or find a quiet spot to use them. When you heal successfully then it also quicksaves.
    By making them into in-game resources, you can limit their number and control the pacing a bit, and avoid people overusing them (because they’d be wasting precious medpacks). They essentially become limited mobile checkpoints, that you can use when YOU want, like after that long cutscene!

    Also, all games should have a “pause and play later” option that works like a disposable quicksave, so you can shut it off at any time and then restart from when you shut down… if you have to go and look after the kids.

    *because there is zero chance this reply will show up where it’s supposed to.

    • Taillefer says:

      I think, ultimately, limited saves are just too inconvenient for most people. They could get called away from the PC and need to save, thus wasting one. If that also uses up a valuable medkit, you’d be putting them at a big disadvantage because of something happening completely unrelated to the game. Having an animation to lengthen the process has been done in games, and it works quite well.

      There are some players of a certain mindset like me; and it causes very limited resources to be constantly frustrating. It’s entirely a personal thing but: If a powerful resource is limited – I will never use it. Limited heavy weapon ammo? Limited use powerful spells? One-shot nuke? Sounds fun, yes. But I won’t use them, just incase I really, really need them later. Give me a pistol with unlimited ammo and a rocket launcher with three shots? I’m using the pistol all the way through the game! Limit me on saves and I won’t use any and be frustrated at you/me. Think of the poor mentally ill people like myself.

    • MD says:

      Heh, I have the same tendency. It occasionally pays off! Pretty silly overall though, and I’m trying to fight it.

      On the save issue, I do like the idea of ‘save and quit’ quicksaves.

    • bill says:

      @Taillefer:

      Hmm. That’s true. I kind of do that too. I remember finishing Jedi Outcast with dozens of rockets, and various other equipment that i’d saved for the whole game, and then never used. But i’m not saying we should limit the health packs to, like, 3 per level… there should be enough to be useful, but just not enough to exploit. And as you’d be healing up anyway, you’d be forced to save even if you didn’t want to ;-)

      But it would only work if it had the “quicksave when exit” function i mentioned. A lot of handheld games have that, for example Final Fantasy on the GBA. When you quit it does a quicksave, and when you restart it deletes it. So it allows you to take a break from the game anytime, but otherwise doesn’t have quicksaves.
      But other than that it has a stupidly annoying checkpoint save system that makes you replay huge sections when you die. But it works great for “real life interrupts” scenarios.

    • Nox says:

      Outcast had this.

      It was called, in-game and by the denizens of the world you were trying to save, the GAAMSAAV. You could whip it out at any time, but it had a charging timer and the game didn’t pause while it was spinning-up. It was one of the best implemented risk vs. reward save systems I’ve encountered in gaming.

    • Remer says:

      I know this has pretty much been stated before, but I think all saving should be designed so that it is disabled once an enemy has acquired the player. I don’t mean specific time frames in which saving is prohibited. I’m talking about some kind of quick-save AI director that decides when you save. If a company devoted a whole program to it, the game could turn out to be really immersive and flowing.

      As for med-kits, I just don’t like the idea at all. I play games for fun, story, and visual appeal. I kind of like the Call of Duty style health regeneration system. Don’t get me wrong, I love med-kit games like Half Life, Dead Space, Bioshock, etc. But it seems so fake and its such a reminder that you’re playing a game. If you’re not going to realistically get injured in the first five minutes of combat and have to recover over days in the virtual hospital, I’d rather just get hurt and be able to forget about it later.

    • archonsod says:

      “The problem is that the devs then have to factor this play in, and then the enemies end up being so difficult that there’s no way to beat them, except by doing the quicksave/load thing if you make the slightest mistake. Not so satisfying.”

      No they don’t. No more than they’re obliged to remove any cheats or similar because people can use them to beat the game. There’s nothing forcing you to quicksave every three seconds, if you find frequent use of it detrimental to the game then you can simply not use it. Unless you’re one of those who can’t stop themselves, but to be honest if you’re that lacking in self discipline I’d question the wisdom of allowing you near a keyboard. Or indeed out of social care :P

      Although if you’re going to include quicksave I’d consider it a common courtesy to put the quick load button on the opposite side of the keyboard rather than right next to it as tends to be the norm.

  28. Ashurbanipal says:

    So you shoot your money into monster’s faces? So it has … actual money shots?

    • Remer says:

      Wow, hahaha, that is actually tremendously clever. I’ll be using that joke in the future.

  29. jarvoll says:

    @Ashurbanipal: niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

  30. Seth says:

    The mutants are not “the Dark Ones”, it’s a mistranslation (or political correct one for the US market) a closest translation is “the Blacks” or something similar (and yes the ambiguity is intended).

    The story is a lot about segregation, fear of the others, etc… Each station have an ideology and live closed on themselves (nazis, communists, capitalists…).

    Therefore the mutants are named “the blacks” as a reflect (and a critic) of current ex-soviet bloc xenophobia.

  31. KBZ says:

    What happened to quicksaves? They were unfeasible on consoles due to hardware limitations.

    • Dominic White says:

      That hasn’t been true for at least five years now. Closer to 8-9 if you count the original Xbox. In the vast majority of cases, the checkpoints are purely a design choice, and something a lot of developers are in favour of. Even a lot of PC-only studios – see the original launches of Aliens vs Predator and Far Cry back in the day, which only patched quicksaving in after much thrashing and moaning from the audience.

    • KBZ says:

      Of course, it’s a great design choice when you want to artificially lengthen your 4 hours long game.

      Quicksave is not going to play the game good for you, and it’s not going to save your ass when there are 50 enemies going at you from all sides.

    • Psychopomp says:

      A game being tough is artificially lengthening it?

    • KBZ says:

      Yes, if you want to talk about fake difficulty, which is another part of bad design.

      It’s a relict of old, arcade style games that you had to play 100 times in order to memorize everything, because when you finally did you realized that finishing the game only took 30 minutes.
      Not to mention actual arcade games that were supposed to earn money.

  32. Justin says:

    Another game where the world depicted is either indifferent or hostile to the play. Not the puzzles or the monsters, but the world. I’m not sure why this is compelling, but it is. Maybe it’s more satisfying when you overcome the game by not being dead?

  33. geldonyetich says:

    “It’s a strictly linear first-person shooter,”

    Well, there went any interest I had in the game. It could be so atmospheric that it could be used for an air conditioner, I’d still pass on it on the grounds that I think I’ve had enough strictly first-person shooters for a lifetime.

    • Remer says:

      I understand that you’re probably the kind of gamer that loves to make choices and decisions and freedom. But this game is supposed to work like a story does. In this case, linear doesn’t mean walking through a shooting range. From the reviews I’ve read so far, I assume you wont be shooting much at all. It works more like a movie or a book and focuses more on telling a storyline instead of letting you write your own as the game progresses.

      Now when I say you wont shoot much, I don’t mean to call it a kiddie game. In fact this looks like more like a terrifying and philosophical experience that takes us away from our nice computer desks and reminds us of how a human is supposed to function. To adapt and survive against all odds.

      I definitely would not suggest this game for you if you’re a close minded douche who isn’t willing to sit through an interesting plot and think for a second. If you want to do your thing go play the bullshit that they call “Fallout 3″.

    • archonsod says:

      So in other words, another half arsed attempt by a frustrated would-be director to misappropriate an interactive medium to create a movie rather than a fun and interesting game.

      I’ll go back to Fallout 3 cheers.

    • Remer says:

      Archonsod, I don’t know where you get “half-assed “, “frustrated would-be director”, or “misappropriate” out of any of this, but otherwise yes. It works like a 3D/interactive movie that you get through at your own pace. I will say this type of gaming has failed often in the past, but if you told me this doesn’t seem at least slightly interesting, then you fall into my category of “close minded douche who isn’t willing to sit through an interesting plot and think for a second.”

      I apologize if I offended you by insulting Fallout 3. I didn’t suspect that anyone who would even give this game a chance enjoyed playing it.

      To better understand what I dislike about it so much, I’ll tell you. First of all, RPG’s try to give you as much freedom as possible, but there’s always that player clip (invisible fence) at the edge of the map. They attempt to create the illusion that the game is endless. But there is always a limit as to what you can do in the game. No matter what.

      Second, the graphics aren’t all that great. I do understand that RPG’s take much longer to make and there is a lot of effort put into the choices and how the game plays out. But they work so hard on it that they forget the visual aspect of the game. I fucking hated the animations for the people on Fallout. Oh god, how I despised them.

      The writing for RPG’s usually isn’t the best due to the fact that the player should be able to change it up a bit. There are many iterations to what actually happens and it get’s kind of hard to follow. Not much of an actual story

      I don’t want to finish this. ATGRHSDHFSHTSDGASD

  34. Remer says:

    It’s 10 hours long, guys. I read that in a later review where the writer played the whole thing.

  35. deadsexy says:

    I think it would work quite well with Metro 2033 if you could “quick”save with an entry into your notebook. It would keep you from saving during combat, since there’ll be a somewhat lengthy animation. an attack could probably even cancel the animation and therefore your attempt to save and it also would contribute to what they are trying to achieve with the lack of HUD

  36. Remer says:

    I’ve heard this game is really creepy form several reviews. I hope it’s not chalk full of cheap jump scares like so many other horror games. Those shadow people sound freaky as hell.

  37. Mr. Versipellis says:

    Looks really good!