Tuesday 19 March 2019

Metro Exodus review: Going overground

(XO/PS4/PC) **** Age: 18+

Metro Exodus
Metro Exodus
Genesis Alpha One
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

"There is Metro, nothing else," the inhabitants of post-apocalyptic Moscow in this book-to-game series were told repeatedly. Much like a lot of government propaganda, it was a lie.

Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky's pulp-fiction novels of underground survivors in a nuclear wasteland adhered resolutely to the party line. But Glukhovsky himself steered the story in Exodus beyond his books, sending a band of mavericks led by series hero Artyom blinking into the light where they realise a whole world endures beyond Moscow. Still lethally damaged, still full of mutants and bandits, but definitely alive with possibility.

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Escaping on a ramshackle steam train, the rebels traverse a sprawling overground world instead of claustrophobic tunnels. Exodus sticks to the series template of deep storytelling (at times the exposition is too rambling, the script too earnest) interspersed with panicked shootouts on limited ammo.

The combat never fully convinces, a deliberate consequence of basing its fiction on unreliable steampunk weaponry. Instead, the great draw of Exodus lies in its environments - the rail trip encompasses a year of seasons from chilling winter to suffocating summer - and the pockets of weirdness (a camp of cannibals, a gang of abandoned children, a firebrand preacher and his misguided flock).

It's an absorbing journey, gorgeous to behold, teeming with terrifying monsters and not short of frustrating (digital) bugs. Just don't expect the crisp gunplay of a modern shooter.


READ MORE: Metro Exodus preview: Leaving the tunnel vision behind 


Genesis Alpha One

 (XO/PS4) *** Age: 16+

Genesis Alpha One

Crossing Star Trek with Lego, a smidgen of SimCity and a dab of Halo, GAO tries too hard to be all things to all players. Exploring space for a planet to colonise, you must custom-build your own ship, harvest resources, fend off aliens and identify a new home, all without much instruction.

Trial and error (AKA many failures and restarts) eventually teach you how to prioritise your construction, which modules to snap on to your ship, where to place turret defences and which clones to allocate to what job.

Complexity is no harm in any sim but GAO punishes you quickly for your shortcomings and repeated playthroughs convey a rotten sense of déjà vu as you repeat the same tasks for your opening hours.

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