Games: Metro: Exodus 'a refreshing change from stale war shooters'

Neil McGreevy

Metro: Exodus (Multi)
By: Deep Silver

ALL aboard the Aurora, a filth-ravaged train touring bleak lands of despair that could give Translink’s Coleraine line a run for its money. The lark-free locomotive signals a change in direction for the venerable Metro series from linear horror-blasting to open-world road-trip.

Much more than Half Life with Borat accents, 2010’s Metro 2033 and its sequel have earned true cult status thanks to a dystopian narrative lifted from the pages of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s post-apocalyptic potboilers, where Mother Russia has become a nuclear wasteland and her remaining inhabitants survive in subway tunnels like commie cockroaches.

A canny mix of horror, blasting and chin-stroking musings, the defiantly single-player epics offered dingy end-of-the-world romps through Moscow's bowels as young survivor Artyom faced off against renegades, mutated critters and paranormal forces.

Set two years after the events of Metro: Last Light, Exodus places players in the grimy shoes of Artyom as he and his wife Ana survive below the surface of Moscow. Their world, however, is shattered when a massive steam train barrels through the city. Soon, Artyom, Ana, and a gaggle of ragtag Spartan Rangers find themselves travelling across Russia.

For the third Metro title, most of Artyom’s supernatural shenanigans have been elbowed in favour of a newcomer-friendly character-driven yarn with the predictable "man is worse than the monsters" hokum.

The atmosphere is once again unrelentingly bleak as you tour the irradiated delights of Mother Russia. On top of the mutants, above ground is home to bandits and religious fanatics, requiring a stealth-heavy approach to survive.

Though it moves towards an open world, unlike so many triple-A shooters these days, Metro Exodus isn't just a treadmill of outpost clearing. With a constantly changing landscape, its 40 hours are broken into four landscapes, each boasting a new season to survive and with missions that can be tackled in any order.

From the sandstorms of the Caspian Sea to the rivers of the Volga, Exodus drags Artyom on a whistle-stop tour of his homeland, though you’ll still view the world from behind his condensation-soaked gas mask. Compared to the slick military machismo of Call of Duty, Exodus offers a rusting, bargain-basement arsenal where ramshackle weapons require constant cleaning and air filters are needed to survive. While bullets are a scare resource, Exodus introduces an intuitive weapon upgrade system that lets Artyom modify and rebuild his guns on the fly, and every slug will need to count against its menagerie of enemies.

Dmitry Glukhovsky recently pulled the plug on Hollywood’s planned Metro movie, the scribe claiming that Tinseltown had Americanised his novel too much (even going as far as setting it in Washington). There’s no such Western whitewash with Metro Exodus’s defiantly Soviet survival tale. A thoughtful and, dare I say it, even poetic offering that thinks a bit deeper than the usual adrenaline-heavy genre fare, Exodus is a refreshing change from stale war shooters.

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