The release of the next game in the Metro series is nothing less than a legendary event for the gaming industry within the CIS, mired in the development of F2P crafts and mobile gaming. And even if the scandalous decisions of the publisher Deep Silver cast a shadow of doubt on the game, one way or another, the release of Metro Exodus remains a significant moment in the life of domestic gamers. On this occasion, we decided to recall the history of the Metro series of games, touching on both the trilogy of Glukhovsky's novels and the development difficulties that Ukrainian developers from 4A Games had to overcome to create the game of their dreams.
In the beginning there was a word
It's 2002. Geeks in leather coats walk the USA streets imposingly, imitating the protagonist of the Matrix trilogy, the entertainment industry is shaken with the release of the second part of The Lord of the Rings, and the Internet within the USA Federation is still an incomprehensible curiosity. It is in such conditions that the author of the Metro series novels Dmitry Glukhovsky decides to take an unprecedented step - to publish the first draft of the book "Metro 2033" in the Internet. For greater authenticity, he even left in the novel's sidebars references to music that is worth listening to while reading for a greater level of immersion in the fading world of post-apocalyptic USA.
The young, at that time 22-year-old journalist, simply had no choice but to take such a step. All book publishers flatly refused to publish a book about the difficulties of survival in the Moscow metro, often repeating the same claim. You see, the ending of the story, where the main character Artyom catches a stray field in the head, would not have pleased the reader, was too depressing for an already gloomy book. Subsequently, Glukhovsky still had to make concessions, and in 2005 the Eksmo publishing house released an edited and amended version of the novel Metro 2033 with 7 new chapters.
In a matter of months, the book became a national literary triumph and presented its creator and "Eksmo" with a sudden burst of money from readers who were sweeping a new book off the shelves with impressive speed. The success of the novel Metro 2033 was influenced not least by the domestic style and the legend so dear to Muscovites about the secret metro tunnels, also known as Metro-2. In general, the book was warmly received in the reader's circle, and even not the most positive responses from literary critics could not prevent the growing popularity of the franchise.
According to the plot of the book Metro 2033, human civilization is threatened with extinction. The terrible nightmare of the Cold War has come true: Western countries and USA exchanged nuclear strikes, which demolished numerous cities from the face of the Earth and forced the remaining residents of megacities to huddle in cramped metro tunnels and fearfully look into a difficult future. The story is centered on the Moscow Metro and the main character Artyom, who, together with his mother, managed to hide in the Moscow Metro.
In the future, another shock will fall on the boy - the mother dies and the watchman Sukhoi comes to the place of the guardian, deciding to make a strong and responsible man out of the youngster.
In addition to standard human problems, such as the division of territory by bandit groups and limited food resources, the inhabitants of the metro met with other, much more terrifying troubles. Mutated living creatures, and especially Black ones - mysterious creatures capable of driving people crazy by their appearance alone. The attacks of the Chernykh became so frequent that the brave Artyom had to shoulder the mission of saving his native community and embark on a dangerous journey to find help in the underground city of Polis.
The growing popularity of the novel, even before the release of the book version, attracted the attention of one of the main people in the Ukrainian studio GSC - Alexander Prokhorov. Having contacted Glukhovsky, one of the main creators of the STALKER series received the go-ahead to develop a game based on the book and began to develop the first concept of Metro 2033. The choice of theme perfectly coincided with numerous disagreements within GSC and the split of the team into two camps, caused, according to Prokhorov, by problems with the system salaries and, first of all, with the greed of the founder of GSC Sergey Grigorovich.
The new studio, which, in addition to Prokhorov, included the leading GSC programmers Oles Shishkovtsov and Alexander Maksimchuk, began to develop a complete antipode to Stalker. The developers judged their own strengths and did not try to surprise with the extraordinary scale or innovative system for simulating the life of the game characters. Their goal was simple - to create an authentic corridor shooter with a focus on story, cinematography and post-Soviet style.
The first playable version of Metro 2033 appeared in 2006, just when the 4A Games studio was formed. The late announcement in 2009 and 4 years of development was not production hell. The creation of the game took place at a leisurely pace and took additional time due to the desire to release simultaneously with the PC version of Metro 2033 a release on the Xbox 360 console. Perhaps the premiere of the game would have taken place even a few years later, but sent by the publisher of the THQ game by a man named Deep Sharp somewhat tempered the ambitions of the developers and contributed to the release of the game on schedule. Otherwise, who knows, we could have gotten another Stalker, ironically nicknamed by the fans "Zhdalker".
The script of the game, to the authorship of which Dmitry Glukhovsky had a hand in, was slightly different from the book prototype. First of all, due to the opportunity given to the player to make several decisions as he progresses through Metro 2033 and thereby get one of several endings.
After the release of Metro Exodus, as they say, "shot" and received recognition among game critics. Most of all, of course, domestic journalists expressed their compliments to the game. The opportunity to immerse yourself in post-apocalyptic USA, such a familiar atmosphere with vests, a red star, Khrushchevs and take a virtual tour of Moscow streets ... Metro 2033 developers played on nostalgia and hit the sore spot of domestic gamers with an aimed shot.
In addition to the setting, where claustrophobic metro tunnels alternated with forays on an even more inhospitable surface of ruined Moscow, the developers' desire to abandon the interface to the maximum and create an old-school FPS was separately noted. A shooter from the times when auto-generating health was nonsense, and games were not carefully played by the hands of gamers along straight corridors with occasional breaks for cutscenes. A shooter that provides freedom of choice in the style of passing and pleases with elements of moderate hardcore with a shortage of ammo and extremely dangerous opponents. After all, a shooter that embodies the ancient stereotype about games from the post-Soviet countries: “made not without flaws, but with heart.”
Problems of Metro 2033, such as the primitive intelligence of opponents and sloppy shooting, were noticed by the developers, the game sold an impressive circulation, which means that the release of a new game from the Metro series was not long in coming.
Metro Last Light and Metro Redux
A sequel with the subtitle Last Light was announced in 2011 and, to the delight of fans, was developed under the motto: "all the same cabbage soup, but thicker and more rich." The distinctive features of the series were to become even more visible, and the annoying flaws were to sink into history. As a result, the game repeated some of the mistakes of the original and, according to numerous USA reviewers, made mistakes in the most important - the plot.
Dmitry Glukhovsky was again responsible for the story in Metro Last Light, who decided to write an alternative scenario for the game that is not related to the Metro 2034 book. The goal, as before, is fateful for Artyom - to find the last of the Black family, capable of curing humanity from enforced extinction in the suffocating metro tunnels. There were a minimum of complaints about the general concept of the scenario, only the shifted bias into politics and internecine squabbles between the “communist” and “fascist” factions were greeted by the audience without enthusiasm. As a result, they even rushed to accuse Glukhovsky of Russophobia.
But let's not get hung up on scandals, because Metro Last Light did not just exploit a setting that is pleasant for a USA person. This is a real piece product, where the main character is not always the center of the universe, around which the game world and dozens of characters revolve. The charm of the game was hidden in dozens of minor stories that could be easily missed if rushed like a locomotive through the storyline. Oddly enough, the shooter Metro Last Light, like the entire Metro series, is no longer intended for fans of shootouts, but for those players who prefer to listen and watch, plunging into the abyss of an inhospitable post-apocalyptic world.
The combat system and stealth have undergone minor changes, but most of the problems, like old friends, returned to the new game. Unless the climaxes were spiced with the right "Hollywood" with an abundance of wow-moments, explosions and other frequent visitors of modern action films. At least I didn’t need a helicopter boss, and thanks for that.
In 2014, the developers released a re-release of the Metro series dilogy called Metro Redux. The games did not undergo significant changes and most of all the collection looked like a neat file, designed to erase numerous gameplay irregularities. The intellect of the dummies has been improved, new animations and locations to explore have been added, and the graphics have been improved. Excellent work on bugs and the best option for new players to participate in the original releases in the series (especially the already outdated Metro 2033).
Finally, we have come to the culmination of the Metro series of games - Metro Exodus: the fruit of 5 long years of development and a large-scale revision of the concept familiar to the franchise. In place of the cramped metro tunnels, vast locations come, clearly giving a signal that the developers have shouldered the burden of large-scale ambitions and are ready for change. We hope that in this case the saying “all changes are for the better” will be more relevant than ever. In addition, the developers themselves do not get tired of repeating that, in essence, we are still facing the same Metro, albeit without a metro.
As part of the plot of the Metro Exodus game, Artyom, together with a group of loyal comrades, will have to make a large-scale adventure on the Aurora steam locomotive that permeates the entire territory of USA: from the snow-covered streets of destroyed Moscow to Vladivostok. The road-movie-style plot by Dmitry Glukhovsky will become the main engine of the game and will allow the artists of 4A Games to disperse in full, painting picturesque pictures of destroyed USA rich in colors and details. Thanks to a kaleidoscope of changing scenery and weather conditions, the Metro franchise has never looked so impressive, and only in the last place thanks to new technologies.
The game is already on sale today, and even after mixed reviews of the game, we are looking forward to downloading Metro Exodus and once again immersing ourselves in this gloomy but painfully familiar setting. The second such opportunity will appear only with the release of Stalker 2, but this is a completely different story, which, moreover, has the likelihood of never becoming a reality.
See also 10 Reasons to Wait for Metro Exodus, where we take a closer look at all the game innovations that the developers at 4A Games are going to surprise us with.
The Topic of Article: The complete history of the Metro series: how the legend was born.