Getting Lost in the Subway at the End of the World

Sci-fi, Tarkovsky, gender politics, World War II, STALKER, centrism, subs vs. dubs... this Metro 2033-focused episode of Waypoint 101 has it all! Join Austin, Danielle, and Rob for a in-depth and wide-ranging discussion of 4A Games' 2010 adaptation of Sergei Glukhovsky's 2005 post-apocalyptic novel.

There are some significant spoilers about the ending (could humans be the real monsters?), but for the most point we'll be discussing whether how Metro 2033 attempts to combine immersive sim and linear FPS traditions, the places where its execution lets down its artistic ambitions, the whiff of centrism around its politics, and what its singular morality system implies about its worldview.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Just listening to the podcast now but I wanted to drop in the GB reference that Austin was alluding to.

Huh, I got quoted in the podcast; was not expecting that. Thanks!

I’ve already unloaded a lot of frustration about this game in the posts I made to the other thread. Rather than beating a dead horse, I think the relevant question here is: could the developers have ever accomplished the things it seems like they wanted to accomplish, within the format of a very-linear corridor shooter?

Having played this game, it does not really surprise me at all that they decided to go with a hybrid open-world/linear mix in the upcoming Exodus. For me, all of the problems with not being to explore and inhabit the stations in this world come down to “this should have been an open world game”, because you’re not really going to be able to dig down into the stories of each of those stations unless you’re allowed to stay there and do some side quests.

The best Metro 2033 (and Last Light, from the couple hours I’ve played) seem to be able to do are extended in-game dialogues from side characters – which are nice, but also would be way more interesting with an Oxenfree-style dialogue system to interact with. Every time a 3-minute dialogue would trigger, I couldn’t help thinking “this should’ve probably been a movie”; being non-interactive really hurts it.

Of course, open world games don’t make themselves; it is likely that the studio actually did not have the resources to even attempt one until now.

After I quit 2033, I was not planning on playing Last Light at all – but I booted it up out of curiosity, thinking that the same janky combat system would make me bounce off in a few minutes. That did not happen. I don’t know precisely what the development history of Last Light was, but it feels like a reboot. Even though you’re the hero who (canonically) killed the Dark Ones in the last game, the intro treats the player as if this was their first Metro game, taking its time to demonstrate combat and other mechanics. (It even tells you how to do the mask wipe, finally.) A side character you’re paired with early on treats you in dialogue like a newbie (which is weird, given all the shit you got through in the last game).

The focus of Last Light seems to be squarely on the inevitable conflict between all the factions, now that the Rangers have basically hit the motherlode of stockpiles. The Nazis and Reds actually get proper introductions this time – and again, since this franchise does not do subtle, your intro to the Nazis is an underground concentration camp. While the game could still fall on its face politically, I feel like that’s a pretty firm statement of purpose.

Given how rough 2033 ended up being in the later levels, I’m on the fence about seeing Last Light through. But I have to give it credit for onboarding the player properly this time around.

…oh dear, now I feel bad over choosing this username. It’s should be pronounced like chervony rover. It means red bicycle. In Polish cz is always read as English ‘ch’ like in ‘cherry’ and w is read like v (a letter that we do not use, unless in foreign names or words).

Artyom’s (Artem’s) seeming longing for West, while I do think is, uh, problematic, honestly was very emotional for me. Assuming you aren’t from a group of people who thinks west is rotten, West, or rather USA, is often somehow a mythical place. For a lot of people it is a still a symbol of prestige, better future, freedom etc etc. We may have way easier time to get genuine information about USA, but what knowledge we get from pop culture is often the one we stop at. And the America in pop culture tends to be incredibly appealing, beautiful and so much wealthier.

For years I was convinced everyone in USA lived in suburbs, and no one lived in the centre in the city, it was only skyscrapers in there. I had real childish ideas of what USA was like, but the concept of a country that, at the point in time, had legal same sex marriages, with big gay parades and gay neighbors was so fictional for a young Eastern European queer that nothing seemed out of question. So the notion of longing for the imaged great west real speaks to the me from years ago.

Two side notes: I wouldn’t recommend calling white slavs caucasian as actually people from the Caucasus region are often treated… not well to say the least. I can not speak for how it is in Russia but I know here there is a big hostility.

Also, while technically women had equal laws in east bloc it was more in theory than in practice. Like a looot of stuff during that era. Though it may indeed be better than in USA at that time.