Fear the Future
July 12, 2011 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Metro 2033: Multimedia Online Fiction. Cruel but beautiful Russian shooter Metro 2033 and its upcoming sequel, Metro: Last Light are arguably two of the most polished games to come out of a country better known for the buggy, idiosyncratic work of GSC Game World and Ice-Pick Lodge. Less well-known is the games' source material, a self-published, soundtrack-backed online novel of the same name (warning: Russian).
posted by Tubalcain (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Er, note that GSC Game World is actually Ukranian, but its major source material is based on a Tarkovsky film and Russian novel.
posted by Tubalcain at 10:32 AM on July 12, 2011

I'm a big fan of the 'slightly buggy and very ambitious' Russian shooters, but the only problem is that the engines are horribly unoptimized and it's a struggle to get them to run well even on modern systems.

The latest Stalker game actually ran fairly well and didn't have a lot of bugs, so maybe they're getting better
posted by Cloud King at 10:40 AM on July 12, 2011

S.T.A.L.K.E.R., "the buggy, idiosyncratic work of GSC Game World," is my newest favorite series, but don't play them vanilla. Use the Complete mods. (SoC Complete - CS Complete - CoP Complete) The movie and novella are great too.

I hear Metro 2033 is great in 3D.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:40 AM on July 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

The IL-2 Sturmovik series was developed by 1C, and are popular but notoriously buggy. However, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey was developed in Russia by Gaijin Games and is well-regarded.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:04 AM on July 12, 2011

"(warning: Russian)"?
posted by mhoye at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2011

Beerfilter nailed it with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mods, it's a fantastic series once you figure out what the game wants from you. I do believe GSC is actually a Ukrainian company though, not Russian. I really enjoyed Metro 2033 as well, very atmospheric and nerve-wracking.
posted by D_I at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2011

Whoops, missed Tubalcain pointing out the Ukrainian thing.
posted by D_I at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2011

Language on last link is Russian-language only, hence the note/warning. Although given the difficulty of all the games mentioned above, I could just pretend the warning is for that.
posted by Tubalcain at 11:30 AM on July 12, 2011

Haven't tried the game yet, but I thought the first trailer they released for Metro 2033 was fantastic.
posted by straight at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2011

I only played the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games after seeing, some years before, Tarkovsky's movie. At the time I thought "they should totally make this into a video game, only with more (any) monsters and less poetry." I can't imagine approaching the games any other way.
posted by a small part of the world at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding BeerFilter on the mods, although in my experience it ups the ante on sys reqs even more.
posted by a small part of the world at 12:36 PM on July 12, 2011

I played through Metro up until you find the little boy and then my controls got all jacked up and unresponsive. Sent it back and realized a week later it was supposed to simulate the kid riding on your back.

Awesome world/atmosphere, annoying as hell game mechanics.
posted by mean cheez at 12:49 PM on July 12, 2011

Great game. I found it surprisingly emotionally gripping. The grim and desperate atmosphere finds a perfect counterpoint in the gallows humor of various characters and in the main character's own narrative. Unfortunately, I got to the part where there are these toxic orange orbs that swarm you, as well as toxic shooting pustules on the walls and floor, and my computer could take no more -- the framerate got so low, even on lower graphics settings, that it was like playing through molasses.
posted by treepour at 1:51 PM on July 12, 2011

BeerFilter: "S.T.A.L.K.E.R., "the buggy, idiosyncratic work of GSC Game World," is my newest favorite series, but don't play them vanilla. Use the Complete mods."

We picked up the first and third games in the series for peanuts in the recent Steam sale (didn't bother with the second; apparently it's not that great, and meh, prequels). Never having played them before we're doing our first ever run through with the Complete mods. We've both just finished Shadow and I'm giving it a day or so's rest until I dig into Pripyat.

Holy. Fucking. Shit. I have never played a game that enveloped me in atmosphere like that; at least, not since Silent Hill 2. For all that it's full of abstracted mechanics and the usual derpy "I can carry the weight of a person on my back" inventory system, what swept me away was the way it felt more real than any game I've ever played.

What I mean by that (and this will be in such general terms that it won't be spoilery): one story-important mission had me traipsing across the wasteland to find the corpse of the quest-giver's colleague and retrieve some data. On my way there I killed a small group of [enemy type A] that were directly on my chosen path to the corpse, and avoided a larger group of [type B] to save ammo, creeping through some reeds at river's edge. I find the corpse and loot the data.

In a video game, this would be the cue for a howl in the distance, and then 30% of the way back to camp I would be ambushed by whatever monster my looting had triggered. I would have to kill it, or run away from it in a scripted sequence. For in video games, you don't get to make plot progression without being "punished". It's fun pretty much all the time, in the way an action thriller like Salt is fun: individual plot points may not be predictable, but the consequences certainly are, so you sit back and enjoy the ride.

Because Stalker is not that sort of game, when I looted the data nothing happened. No monsters spawned to attack me, nothing was guarding the corpse, and no scripted events happened. The world in Stalker doesn't revolve around me, and I was no more a notable/delicious target for the local people and animals than I was before I rifled through the stinking coat of this nondescript corpse. Just as before I looted, the sky was pitch black with night and the only sounds were the soft wind whistling through the distant trees, the snuffling of animals, and my own footsteps as I set off back to camp. As soon as I found somewhere reasonably secure-looking, which was a hard task with my little underpowered torch, I ate a bit of sausage and curled up in my sleeping bag, to wait for morning, and better light.

I never knew I wanted to play a game like Stalker until I played Stalker.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:59 PM on July 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

And now, so do I.
posted by longbaugh at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2011

Metro 2033 on the 360 was amazing and actually made me go back and try SoC and, most recently after a modest graphics card upgrade, CoP (like Kittens, got it for a steal on Steam). Yes you must use the Complete mods. But it runs like an absolute dog. Which is funny, because in the Tarkovsky movie one piece of symbolism is a dog, running around. Speaking of dogs, in Stalker you shoot a lot of dogs and I wish you didn't have to.

posted by tumid dahlia at 8:53 PM on July 13, 2011

It's worth mentioning that SoP with Complete does not play well with AA. Try to force it in the driver and it should work, but you'll probably get terrible performance and strange artefacts. Without AA but with everything else turned up to max SoP Complete ran at 60-100fps on my e7200/gtx560.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:37 AM on July 14, 2011

Good tip, thanks Kittens.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:04 AM on July 14, 2011

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