Thursday, October 27, 2011

Metro 2033

First Person Shooters usually aren't known for having a dynamic tone. It is usually a militaristic setting, where the player is some sort of soldier and some mission goes wrong that challenges your twitch reflex. The tone is usually set by fancy set pieces and characters who think they were cast in an Aliens remake. Metro 2033, while a flawed game, has specific tone that not many games (let alone films) have been able to pull off. The tone is sadness spawned by a dead world. Sounds emo, but I assure you, it works.

Nuclear winter in Moscow is not so fun for the Russians living 20 years after the Doomsday clock claimed Earth. People can't live on the surface, so they live in the metro tunnels, thus the title Metro 2033. On the surface it seems like a pretty normal videogame set up, but as the game progresses it becomes unique. The hero's narration is filled with infinite sorrow over the bleak existence of humanity. Why live in this world? There really isn't an answer. The entirety of humanity is disgusted in itself for destroying the Earth. Even those a generation removed from the massacre feel the omnipresent guilt. This is highlighted by the popularity of vodka in the tunnels, the constant howling of those crying, and children who don't know how to smile. Metro 2033 reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, where the crux of the tone frame the question: why live when the world isn't worth living in?

Metro 2033 isn't as much of a downer as The Road, but it is quite depressing. This tone lends itself the to the survival horror genre extremely well. It starts by attacking players with an overwhelming dissonances. Then players are thrown into a deadly world with ungodly nuclear creations. The enemy encounters are especially scary after being lulled into a quiet forlornness. That battles provide a sense of a catharsis. Metro 2033 uses this tactic to its advantage throughout the game, which creates a unique FPS experience. Just the tonal experience alone is well worth a play through.

"It appears that the devastation we brought upon ourselves was complete; Heaven, Hell and Purgatory were atomized as well. So when a soul leaves the body it has nowhere to go, and must remain here, in the Metro. A harsh, but not undeserved atonement for our sins, wouldn't you agree?" - Khan

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