METRO EX­O­DUS

No more teacher’s dirty looks… be­cause they all got nuked!

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTEST -

We visit 4A Games to go hands-on with its post-apoca­lypse shooter.

Leav­ing the tun­nels of Moscow be­hind we ex­pect to come faceto-face with drool­ing mu­tants, but a glassy-eyed deer lick­ing our face? That wasn’t in the script. It’s our first tease that this Metro is do­ing things dif­fer­ently. A sun­shine mo­ment that’s as far re­moved from the de­pressed Moscow un­der­ground as we could get.

We’re 5,530 kilo­me­tres from Moscow’s tun­nels, to be ex­act. The dis­tance is re­vealed ev­ery time we restart, and we’re get­ting deer cooties be­cause we’ve been dragged from a rag­ing river by the mys­te­ri­ous Olga, and left to fend for our­selves in the wilder­ness.

We be­gin ex­plor­ing. The shacks we dis­cover are a trea­sure trove of clues – sexy sports model posters dated 1988 (a year be­fore the USSR col­lapsed), scat­tered toys and cud­dly bears… and de­cay­ing bod­ies. Pinned to their chests are notes with the words RAPIST and MUR­DERER scrawled in dried blood. Things just got very Metro.

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR­EVER

We push deeper into the ‘val­ley’. Ahead of us is a crum­bling sum­mer camp. Af­ter the nu­clear war chil­dren grew up alone in the woods, and in­ter­preted their ‘teacher’s’ fire­side lec­tures into codes to live by – with vi­o­lent results. It’s the Lost Boys meets Lord Of The Flies by way of Lenin­ist pro­pa­ganda, and they’ve be­gun to splin­ter into fac­tions – Pi­o­neers and Pi­rates – which could be bad for every­one.

“THE LOST BOYS MEETS LORD OF THE FLIES BY WAY OF LENIN.”

While not as open as the pre­vi­ous area of Metro Ex­o­dus we’ve played – we’re con­stantly forced for­wards – this is still clearly a play­ground with mul­ti­ple ways to reach the level’s end.

We stum­ble upon a ban­dit tied to a post, his fate that of the ear­lier corpses. He’ll share a route into the Pi­rates’ camp if we free him, but he also threat­ens to re­turn with more men to put an end to the ‘Chil­dren Of The For­est’. We don’t like his threats so put an ar­row in his head. The dev hints at a rep­u­ta­tion sys­tem that will af­fect how NPC fac­tions act to­wards you based on your ac­tions – we’re guess­ing these ban­dits aren’t friendlies now.

SUM­MER (NECK)BREAK

The sun is be­gin­ning to set (the game has a day/ night cy­cle, which af­fects an­i­mal and NPC be­hav­iour) so we choose to play stealth­ily. Like the multi-route en­vi­ron­ment there’s no one clear way to play. Your style is af­fected by your choice of weapons, time of day, and gear. Be­ing able to cus­tomise guns on the fly via a back­pack adds to the free­dom.

Metro Ex­o­dus is like no other shooter to play; the screen is clean, with all vi­tal info present in a prac­ti­cal way – a com­pass strapped to our wrist points the way, a blue light denotes if we’re vis­i­ble, and there’s no HUD with blink­ing ob­jec­tives. If you want to check for points of in­ter­est in Metro Ex­o­dus’ world then you need to grab your binoc­u­lars and look for them. We spy a build­ing, and bon­fires sug­gest guards.

Sneak­ing around in the dark dis­patch­ing en­e­mies with one-shot kills from the Hels­ing cross­bow feels good; there’s a so­lid­ity to the game that’s rare in shoot­ers. As we spy a zi­pline, our route across the river, a body is found and all hell breaks loose. In a split-sec­ond the game’s tempo surges. NPCs can be heard shout­ing out our po­si­tion, beck­on­ing com­rades to cir­cle us.

Don’t we know it? As we flee on the zi­pline we can still hear the thick Rus­sian ac­cents of our pur­suers. Fall­ing from the zi­pline we pull our­self up just in time to see a pack of wolves ap­pear from the misty woods. Gun loaded, we’re pre­pared. Then we hear a much loader roar and the pack scat­ters as a large, mu­tated bear, a rag­ing ball of fur and mus­cle, pounds into view. Tak­ing a breath we hastily put away the gun and go back to sneak­ing our way to the level’s end.

What fol­lows are more freeform shootouts and stealthy es­capes, over­heard con­ver­sa­tions, and some sur­prises – a paci­fist ban­dit just wants to fish.

Re­play­ing the val­ley over and over we dis­cover new ar­eas, hid­den caves that can guide us past en­emy camps, weapon stashes, cap­tives to res­cue that tease new info, and a work­bench to make use of (you can cus­tomise weapons on the go, but some gear can only be cre­ated at a hard-to-find bench).

Yet no mat­ter the route or style of play we take, ev­ery playthrough leads to one fi­nal con­fronta­tion with that ir­ra­di­ated bear. It’s a boss fight of sorts, set in the grounds of a crum­bling church that’s about to get a whole lot more ru­ined. Af­ter hours of open world, cul­tured shooting fac­ing a boss could feel re­gres­sive, but here it’s a cul­mi­na­tion of a min­i­nar­ra­tive that has lit­er­ally fol­lowed us, growl­ing at our heels, through the val­ley and out the other side. Yet an­other re­minder that Metro Ex­o­dus is a game about the jour­ney as much as the des­ti­na­tion.

“IN A SPLIT SEC­OND THE GAME’S TEMPO SURGES… NPCS CAN BE HEARD SHOUT­ING OUT OUR PO­SI­TION.”

Above Ev­ery­thing in the game is de­signed to work in real life. 4A Games has even built repli­cas of Metro Ex­o­dus’ post-apoca­lypse weapons.

Above Not quite Padding­ton, this mu­tated bear, nick­named The Mas­ter, lands hard hits rather than hard stares.

Above Sun­shine, in a Metro game! Each sea­son brings its own style of en­vi­ron­ment, en­e­mies, and prob­lems to over­come.

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