The Guts of Metro 2033 (Act Four)
Act Four begins with Artyom successfully completing his original mission to reach Polis and tell them about the Dark Ones that are invading his home station. We know this can’t be the end of Artyom’s story, not only because then the game would have been shockingly short and lacked any real endgame climax, but because the opening scene of the game was of a desperate windswept battle against a horde of mutants at the base of a mysterious tower. Act Four is all about getting Artyom there. It’s the closest thing Metro 2033 has to a “filler” chapter, and even then there are still plenty of disturbing secrets to unearth and dreadful locations to visit.
The least dreadful location is, of course, Polis itself. It’s fitting then that you don’t spend much time there.
The first image it gives you is of night vision goggles in the dark, with lasers trained on the railcar that you and Ulman have used to travel from Fascist territory. Turns out the owners of these lights in the dark are the guardians of this tunnel into Polis. The message is clear: The soldiers that fight for Polis are the best-armed and best-trained men you’ve encountered thus. If anyone could save Exhibition Station from the Dark Ones, it’s these guys.
Upon recognizing Ulman, the soldiers admit you into Polis proper, which is the best-lit area you’ve seen (other than the surface during daylight). It’s heavily populated, clean, efficient, and secure. You only get to see a couple areas, and only briefly, because once your message is delivered to the council, they refuse your request for help and put you out on your ass.
This means failure for Artyom’s mission. Fortunately, not all of the factions within Polis feel similarly about the matter. Miller, the leader of the Rangers, tells you that he is disgusted by the council’s cowardice. He recognizes the Dark Ones as a prime threat to the entire Moscow Metro, and he’s willing to help. Unfortunately, while his plan of action starts out simple enough, it soon spools outwards into something verging on the impossible. He proposes using one of the old missile silos to nuke the hive that the Dark Ones inhabit. That sounds good, but then he reveals that the silos can only be controlled from D6, an abandoned military station. Oh, and if you’re thinking of just jogging over there, he also tells you that nobody knows where it is, and you’ll have to break into the super-dangerous super-mutant-haunted Library to (maybe) find ancient records of where it’s hidden.
The Great Library
Polis was the central station of the entire Moscow Metro, so it’s very near to the Great Library. After a short trek alone, you meet up with two other Rangers and head in.
The problem is that you’ve attracted the attention of a flying mutant (a “demon”), which first tries to chase you in through the entrance, then harasses you through the windows. It’s good that there was once a lot of crime in this neighborhood, because the heavy bars on the windows keep out the monster admirably.
Once you’re feeling good and safe with your Ranger friends, one of them is badly wounded by the demon in the main reading hall, and you’re informed that the other Ranger is going to haul him back to Polis for medical care. So you’re on your own again. Oh, one of them says, and avoid the super librarian mutants who are so powerful that they’re basically invincible, ‘kay?
And so begins your trek through the game’s scariest location. You’re hounded by hulking “librarians” the entire way, which are smart enough to flank you, avoid your gunfire, and leave ammunition sitting around to lure you into ambushes. And they look like this:
There are a few ways to deal with these monstrosities, including sneaking past, running around lots of corners, and, naturally, magazines and magazines of ammunition.
You journey deep into the Great Library, and eventually you do find a secure documents room, which does contain information on D6. It also contains a fortunate exit that takes you back out the surface, where you’re rescued by a truck full of happy Rangers.
The Rangers drive to Sparta to regroup and resupply before heading out to D6. They boast that Sparta is humankind’s only base on the surface, which is kind of silly because the Fascists have one too.
Anyway, it’s warm and secure, and the game takes advantage of this brief recovery period (the Library probably frayed a few wires, so it’s a welcome break) to restate the game’s theme. See, not only is Miller there, but Khan (from way back in Act Two) has also shown up. He doesn’t explain why he’s there, and in fact it seems like he’s mostly there to remind you of the game’s theme. Even the lighting seems to shout that the group of badasses you’ve joined up with might not be pursuing the ideal course of action. Compare:
On one side, standing in a gold-leafed chapel, is Khan. He notes that you’ve taken up with the Rangers, and reminds you of the same thing he told you back in Act Two: not to act without thought or doubt.
Miller, on the other hand (and the other side of the room), is seated in the dark. His world is gray and gloomy. And while he’s a good, brave man, his head isn’t filled with thoughts of tolerance or communication, but of death.
And after this strange interlude, you and five Rangers board an engine bound for D6.
On the way, you pass out and have another vision from the Dark Ones. It shows you a tree, says stuff about living beneath the sun again, and then you get to choose whether you walk towards the Dark One, or towards Miller, who is shouting at you the entire time to come back.
This is the last real moral choice until the end of the game, and chances are that Artyom has already made up his mind about the Dark Ones, based on his actions in previous acts. Ideally, you should at least suspect that the Dark Ones don’t mean humanity harm, but it’s possible that they’re trying to trick you. After all, haven’t they killed plenty of Metro-dwellers? Was that an accident, the result of their overwhelming psychic power, or was it an intentional attack?
There’s no way to be sure. You wake up, survive an attack while an airlock door is unlocked, and arrive at the doorstep of D6.
There are six of you. Miller has come along to oversee the mission personally, which is really cool of him to do, even though he’s sort of a grump. Ulman is there, cracking jokes per usual, and it’s nice to have him around because Miller is all business and you two have been through a lot together anyway. There are also three others, who you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting before. Vladimir isn’t armored as well because he’s a technician, and as such his job is to work the D6 missile computer. Since he’s essential, the plot will keep him safe. The other two are Stepan and Boris, and they reek of redshirtery. Sure enough, as you battle past a horde of mutants to get into D6, both of them die.
After being separated briefly from the group and encountering some armored but light-sensitive mutants, you, Miller, Ulman, and Vladimir are surprised when an automated train pulls up and whisks you the rest of the way to the hidden base.
D6 is immense. It’s also flooded with toxic gas, so your team’s first order of business is to reactivate the ventilation system. Upon accomplishing that by pushing some buttons, you all head down a level to where the missile controls should be located.
So far it seems like everything is going suspiciously well: no enemies have harassed you, the fan turned on easily, and taking control of the missile silos is a simple enough matter that requires no secret codes or simultaneous key-turns or anything. And then the power goes out and on your way to investigate you’re attacked by some amoebas.
Turns out that the radiation of the reactor down here has mutated something mighty gross.
So you and Miller battle through a mess of amoebas, take control of the reactor from the biggest amoeba of all, and then use the reactor to restore power to the upper levels of D6. This is pretty easy once you figure out what you’re doing.
And with that, the Rangers control a nuclear arsenal. It turns out that they can’t just blow up the Dark Ones right away—they need targeting information. So you grab a targeting laser and head off with Miller to meet up with the others to bring an end to the creatures that (you think) threaten Exhibition Station and the entire Moscow Metro.
Index of acts here.