“2033 Different Ways to Die in the Metro” or “Artificially Stupid”
I wanted to take some time and write a follow-up to the very initial impressions I had from the first few hours of gameplay in Metro 2033. But certain observations in the game have prompted, nay, urged me to put together some thoughts on the enemy A.I.
As I stated in the initial impressions, Metro 2033 is all about the atmosphere, the story and the hopelessness of the post-apocalyptic world Artyom carves a path through. It is not, however, a good shooter. In fact, it is not even a mediocre shooter. Sure you have guns, they shoot bullets, pellets and some pneumatic weapons even shoot throwing knives, and there is a wide variety of weapon types and upgrades you can invest into with the ever-precious pre-war ammunition/currency. But the combat is hollow and feels like a bloated attempt by the developer to concoct something that was supposed to go above and beyond a shooter, but couldn’t even surpass basic standards.
To make matters worse, the A.I. is fundamentally retarded. They seem intelligent on the surface, rapidly dashing between cover, trying to take advantage of pillars, barriers and sandbags to avoid your hail of gunfire. But observe a while longer and you begin to realize there is a monotonous, pre-meditated almost obsessive compulsive nature to the A.I. behavior. They dart quickly between cover, but soon it is evident that this is all they do, rapidly oscillating between two points of cover, almost oblivious to your presence. Furthermore, while they seem smart enough to utilize cover to protect themselves from your onslaught, when they move from cover to cover, they completely ignore your line of sight. At several points I was able to gun down enemies because they were out in the open, running, with no explicable reason, from a perfectly shielded spot to another 15 yards away, through an open patch of terrain.
But the retarded behavior gets even more bizarre when you realize they the enemy has no sense of sight or sound. On a particularly difficult map, the terrain literally drenched in a never-ending crossfire of bullets, I managed to flank an entire group of enemies. When I approached them from behind, I decided to run up to them, shooting at the last second as they turned toward me, their countenance locked in an eternal expression or shock and awe. However, having charged at top speed, making more noise than a bull in a china shop, and with my bright flashlight illuminating my enemy’s face, the opponent didn’t flinch. Instead, he simply looked over the cover he was hiding behind, the same cover I was in, standing not a quarter of an inch from him, and fired a random burst into the distance, away from me. Just as an experiment, I shot near his head, the bullet burying itself into the sandbags an inch from his nose, but even this grievance was not enough to give my position away and the A.I. continued to direct his gunfire at the phantom foe downrange.
This pattern repeated for every enemy from that point onward that I managed to flank (at least on that map so far). It is sad to see that a game with such an unusual attention to world detail and such a rich and contextual background failing at the two of the most quintessential aspects of a shooter: visceral gunplay, and wicked A.I.
How unfortunate. How very, very unfortunate.