Upon starting this game up, it looks and feels very original with a strong sense of non duplication of previous titles. Yes, the genre is familiar and as the game progresses monsters, mutants and winged demons come to the fore similar to those found in Resident Evil, Silent Hill, etc. However, this really is a game of pros and cons which are easily dissected, so here we go.
Firstly, the good. The graphics, atmosphere, lighting effects and subterranean design elements are second to none. There is a gently falling dust in the topside air to emphasise the nuclear fallout that would exist. Below ground, there are strange mist effects and some extremely unnerving shadow play, especially around camp fires and in bulb-lit tunnels (you can shoot out light bulbs, by the way, a great touch). I did not experience the playability glitches which seem to have been the bane of previous reviewers and the default inventory made good sense to me. I played this on Ranger Hardcore setting and, yes, there were some hard sections, but some time and effort gets you through with your achievements intact (for example, complete Frontline without killing anyone). Monster audio effects are great with a distinct growling coming from somewhere off-screen at the creepiest moments. Enemy AI is very good with some crouched approaches failing as soon as you step on broken glass or knock over a can. Weapon usage is also satisfying. My favourite was the Tihar pneumatic rifle which you could use to snipe victims in almost complete silence at some distance. Sniping during the topside missions during heavy crosswinds was also great and added extra challenge to the situation. I also liked the strategic pauses that have to be made to either pump up the air weapons or to charge the torch or night vision goggles.
Okay, now the bad. This is a very short game. Just as I was in full flow, with about 25 achievements down but with stacks still left to go, that was it! And to say the ending and the concept explanations are vague is an understatement. Essentially, the role of The Dark Ones is an unnecessary part of the game. The nuclear holocaust would have been explanation enough for the future situation. Instead, the dream-sequence ending and Artyoms part in the story just do not provide a satisfactory conclusion.
What was also missing greatly was the ability as a player to interact with the established elements of society, specifically, to barter or deal with the small handful of people that run small underground shops and businesses. Considering several achievements revolve around these, this is a great cause of frustration. I was extremely dismayed once having saved the 500 military grade ammo for the achievement to then realise I had passed my last chance to spend them, which was another achievement altogether! Further achievements require you to play the Frontline level three times in three different ways. All too repetitive for me. I also am confused that I have completed the game on Ranger Hardcore level but did not get the achievement which is odd.
So, to endorse other reviewers opinions, there are as many good things as bad things about Metro 2033 but, on game play and on game concept alone, this is a highly original title and certainly worth a punt for the shy side of 10 pounds this game can be now purchased for.