Metro: Exodus

I’m coming at this from a weird place: I’m talking about the latest game without reviewing the previous 2.  Suffice to say, this is the final part of three games.  The Metro series is based on a book called Metro: 2033, which you can find scattered around the game if you’re observant.  The story is a typical post apocalypse with Russia enduring a viscous nuclear winter.  The first two games have you exploring the underground railways.  This time, the lead character, Artyom, branches out into the world, convinced there are other survivors out there.  Ok, that’s the basics.

metro 2

Stay close or you’ll drown in a puddle…

The first two games were solid.  Good stories, great graphics, dark subject, and decent playtime for a good price.  So much so that when I heard about this game, I grabbed it right away.  And there’s a lot to be said about it.

First, I think I was put off when Steam announced it would not sell the game.  I had to get it through Epic Games.  I paid full price too, which was rotten, but it-is-what-it-is!  I don’t mind doing that for a game that I really want to play.  But there’s a problem with buying outside of Steam, especially for someone who likes to review games.  Steam has a nice little feature which we’ll call the F12 key.  It allows the player to take a screenshot of the game. Epic, which requires its own downloader, has no such feature that I could find.  Furthermore, Metro: Exodus has a camera mode which allows you to do some really amazing things like take a screen shot but adjust the hue, or the angle, or put a postmark on it.  It has about a dozen modifications you can do.  Except one: take the picture.  You’d think it would tell you “press left mouse to take a picture” or “press F” but I pressed every logical key I could find but had no ability to snag a screenshot.  And visually there’s a lot to be impressed by.  Some of the outdoor shots are stunning.   On top of that, there’s a creepy thing that the previous games did that I hadn’t noticed until late in this game: ghosts.  See, in the past, it might be a burst of lightning, but you’d see shapes and shadows of people moving.  In this one, while running through a dark subway (because there are still underground places to explore), you run with the flashlight on.  And all of a sudden you realize there’s a child up ahead.  But only as a shadow.  It moves, stretches, reaches out… but it’s only there in the light of the flashlight.  This warranted a photo but by God, I could not figure out how to take one.  And look online for an answer… go ahead, I dare you.  Steam would have had a forum for that!

metro 3

The Great Outdoors

Then you get into the game itself.  Visually amazing!  FACT!  But audio… the people talk over one another all the time.  I don’t know if this was meant to be more like real life, where people jump in mid-sentence, but it was disheartening that I couldn’t read and hear at the same time, and often found myself walking away without caring.  Also, a flaw: radios.  Some games allow you to listen to a recording of someone, like in Prey, but you can walk on while it plays.  Not so here!  You have to stay right near the tape recorder to hear it… and most of the tapes were the size of War and Peace, so you’re either stuck standing there, with flashlight on, as the voice drones on, or you ignore it.  I ignored most of them.  I’m certain I missed some interesting backstory.

Many areas are very linear also, so you don’t have the ability to go explore.  You’re given a path and you follow it.  The first time I played, I was supposed to follow my in-game wife, but I lost her.  I thought she jumped down into a small hole.  I followed and drowned in a puddle.  Next time I followed her like a hound.  But there are some truly beautiful outside shots, and the place is often glorious to behold.  Meanwhile, Anna, your wife is another part of the story: you do develop feelings for her.  I mean, as a player, you care about the character.  But early on something happens to her and you wonder all game long if she’ll be ok.  I won’t spoil that though.

METRO 1

Anna, go into this dire situation while I stay here and start a fire.

The other mixed feeling I have about the game is the between mission sequences.  They are Very real.  You sit around talking to the team you travel with in a train.  You can interact and it feels like just the sort of character development you want in a game.  These sequences can go on as long as you like.  Which is nice.  But it also makes you feel like you’re waiting around for no reason.  Should you leave, or sit with the people celebrating? If you’re anxious for more exploration and gun-play, maybe just leave.  But are you missing something when you do?

The fact is, like the previous 2 games, this one is a very good action RPG.  It’s got some really outstanding moments but it’s sandwiched between a lot of irritating things.  I think if I had this from Steam, I wouldn’t feel nearly as perturbed as I did.  The picture thing really bothered me.  Maybe if it were 1/2 price, I’d recommend it more.  For now, I’d say, go on Steam and grab the first two games because they were excellent.  But this one just left me feeling a bit beat.  ML

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