In 2013 the world was devastated by an apocalyptic event, annihilating almost all mankind and turning the earth’s surface into a poisonous wasteland. A handful of survivors took refuge in the depths of the Moscow underground, and human civilization entered a new Dark Age.
You are Artyom, born in the last days before the fire, but raised Underground. Having never ventured beyond your Metro Station-City limits, one fateful event sparks a desperate mission to the heart of the Metro system, to warn the remnants of mankind of a terrible impending threat. Your journey takes you from the forgotten catacombs beneath the subway to the desolate wastelands above, where your actions will determine the fate of mankind.
WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank and occupation!
I'm David Langeliers, and I'm creative manager at THQ.
WP: Can you briefly tell us the plot behind the Metro 2033 novel?
DL: The plot behind the novel follows the story of a character named Artyom. The setup for the novel is that the surface of the Earth has been destroyed in 2013 in the city of Moscow. All the survivors retreated to the subway tunnels, or the people were already in the tunnels. They've turned these tunnels into small city-states, sort of a small nation in itself. They trade with each other, they fight with each other, there are agreements and there are breaks in agreements. Since the apocalypse, there are mutant creatures infesting these tunnels and the surface. There have been more increasing attacks on your home station, which causes some alarm. The player character Artyom is tasked with heading to Polis, one of the largest stations, to try and find support for his home station.
WP: Is the game based on trying to find out what caused the devastation, or is it more about trying to survive in the current environment?
DL: It's most definitely about survival. Most people in these metro stations are not worried about what originally caused it. They do have a need and a want to return to the surface, but it's all about survival at this point. They're just trying to get along, they're just trying to survive and keep humankind rolling as a race.
WP: There are the nuclear apocalypse and nuclear winter, but is everything with the mutants somewhat rooted in reality, or are there some fantasy elements to the story?
DL: There are certainly some fantasy elements. We do have these mutants that look somewhat like animals you've seen before but not quite. You're not quite sure what they may have rooted from, or if anything at all. Maybe they're something completely new. There are anomalies in the game that are unexplained. There are elements of fantasy, but due to the nuclear apocalypse, we can kind of take liberties. Nobody truly knows what would happen after an event like that.
WP: Let's talk about the game's currency, which is based on old weapons. We understand that you have a bonus to using them if you don't want to spend them.
DL: Yes, that's correct. Pre-apocalyptic weapons and ammo are in very high demand. The pre-apocalyptic rounds are the currency that everyone accepts in this world of Metro. With these rounds, the powder is more pure, the metal is more pure, and they're much more powerful than standard rounds. The player has the choice, if they find these, which are in very scarce amounts, to load them into their weapons and deal extra damage or save them until they get to the next station and purchase upgrades to their weapons and equipment.
WP: Obviously, parts of the game are set underground in the metro stations, but when you explore the surface, is this based on any real-world locations in Moscow, or is it more about creating a devastated landscape and having fun with it?
DL: Yeah, it's absolutely based on real-world locations. All of the stations within the metro are actual stations on a Moscow map. The player will travel to known locations in Moscow once he's on the surface. I can't let you know what those are right now, but I can tell you that there are real-world locations in the game.
WP: What gameplay features make the game stand out as a unique experience?
DL: Well, we do have some unique features, such as the gas mask, but more so, we're focusing on setting the story and atmosphere. You see with the visuals, we're trying to blow those out as much as possible, make this as cinematic as possible, focusing on the environments. The weapons are all these cobbled-together weapons that they've scrounged together parts and made in the metro tunnels. So while we don't have a unique feature, such as a gravity gun or a hook like that, we're really just trying to create a completely cohesive and immersive environment for the player to explore.
WP: There's a big focus in cobbling things together and picking things up. It seems like scavenging is a big part of the game. Can you play this as a run-and-gun, or do you need to take your time to hunt down resources?
DL: You can get by as a run-and-gun, although you will have much more success if you're scavenging. Besides searching every nook and cranny for med packs, ammo and weapons, you can also loot bodies that you've killed for these same types of items. That alone is usually enough to get you through to the next point, but you will have a much, much easier time if you spend a little bit of time looking around and searching everywhere.
WP: What about the developers themselves, 4A Games? Can you tell us a little bit about how they were founded and where the team came from?
DL: 4A Games is based in Kiev, Ukraine. Metro is their first title. They have a couple of key members from GSC Game World, when they were doing S.T.A.L.K.E.R., so while these two titles are unrelated and 4A Games is unrelated to GSC, there are a couple of key figures who are working now at 4A.
WP: Technology-wise, is the game using any existing, off-the-shelf engines like Unreal, or are they developing their own technology from scratch?
DL: This is an engine that 4A has put together completely from scratch, and it's called the 4A Engine.
WP: Metro 2033 will be available on the Xbox 360 and PC. Are we looking at DX10 or DX11 support for the PC version? Are there any other nifty graphical features?
DL: Yeah, that's correct. We're going to be on the 360 and PC. The PC version does utilize DX10 and PhysX. We're also looking at DX11 and working with nVidia on that.
WP: What about gameplay? Whenever something comes out on the PC and console, a lot of PC gamers complain that he game has been "console-fied." What are we looking at, control-wise, for the PC version versus console?
DL: I want to make it very clear that our PC SKU is our lead SKU. This is not a port. We're putting everything into the PC. The controls on the PC are going to be designed for PC gamers, exactly what they're used to.
WP: If you had to sum it up in two to three sentences, what really makes Metro 2033 a game that's worth playing?
DL: It's really just a very visceral, intense story of survival, and the player isn't just out there to save his home station, but eventually, the fate of mankind as a whole lies within his hands.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
DL: We're looking at a release in early 2010, and we're really excited about it!
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