The station is abandoned, the platform crowned with a mountain of junk. There are books, pieces of furniture, newspapers, broken bicycles, busts of forgotten heroes - objects of the old world, collecting dust. Maybe objects remember too? At this station, people see things. Artyom had a vision of two old men, discussing god and fate, smoking shisha, while a cat lazily napped alongside. Homer saw things the way they were - the platform bustling with commuters in rush-hour, the polished ghost-like carriages gliding along the rails. And Hunter saw himself, or at least a part of himself he'd prefer not to recognise.
Barren wastelands. Decrepit and abandoned towns. Desolate landscapes ravaged by time and trauma. Recognisable landmarks slowly but surely reclaimed by nature after our demise. Games have consistently embraced the post-apocalyptic setting. It invites excitement, apprehension and a deep curiosity, and plays on the thought-provoking hypothetical, the 'what if?'. And when these post-apocalyptic environments and landscapes are incredibly detailed, they can result in great efficacy and power.
In a restaurant somewhere in sunny Los Angeles County, 13 years ago, two old friends were having lunch. Wine and conversation were flowing. They remembered how they'd met at LucasArts in the 90s. They weren't there to talk business but they did because video games were their bread and butter. One of the men, Jack Sorensen, was reeling-off job opportunities he knew of - he being executive vice president of worldwide studios at games publisher THQ. "THQ Australia?" he enquired. But the other man, Dean Sharpe, didn't seem interested. He had closed his own studio Big Ape Productions a couple of years earlier, dropped off the radar and taken a break, and now he was ready for something new. But Sharpe wanted a challenge.
The environments of massive open-world games, particularly in recent years, have been rightly praised for their representation, scale and design accuracy. However, there are some gems at the other end of the spectrum - environments that make you feel cramped, tense and desperate for a break. This is an approach to environment design utilised in our real-world, from gardens to architecture, and is mirrored excellently in some game environments, creating areas that trap us in cramped, claustrophobic conditions.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One remasters are coming thick and fast, bringing with them a wave of controversy - should developers be concentrating resources on porting over games they've already made? Are resolution and frame-rate boosts enough? Most crucially of all, do they represent value for money? The Metro Redux package from Kiev-based 4A Games puts forward a hell of a good case: you get two complete games for £30 and each title is available solus via digital delivery for those who already own one of the originals. But most importantly of all, the remastering work is very, very good. In fact, we'd say it's up there with the best.
Metro 2033 is not a game that deserves a sequel. Too often the game stumbles in its quest to combine elements of shooter, stealth and horror, never confident enough in any one category. The story demands no clear continuation.
Last week, Digital Foundry introduced the technology behind 4A Games' new Metro 2033. Featuring a brand new engine with an eye-opening level of bleeding edge rendering tech, the game instantly got our attention.
Unreal Engine has defined the technological standards of high-definition console shooters, but Gears of War apart it seems as if it is down to proprietary engines to exceed them: Infinity Ward, Bungie and Guerrilla Games have produced the most critically well-received FPS titles on console, and all of them are using their own in-house technology.
It's been a tough couple of weeks. Straight from reviewing S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, Tom drafts me in for a hands-on trial of another dark nuclear slaughterfest: THQ's newest shooter: Metro 2033.
If you're going to show off a brand new post-apocalyptic FPS to a bunch of cynical hacks, you might as well get everyone in the mood: jet us off to Moscow, put us in a freezing nuclear bunker 65 metres under the city, kill the lights and then launch a real nuclear attack. Sadly the budget only covered points one and two, although we did get a deafening siren noise via a nearby Alba stereo, along with some tasty Russian canapé.