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Review of Metro 2033 in 3D

By Neil Schneider

Introduction
General Game Review
Nvidia Stereoscopic 3D Findings
DDD Stereoscopic 3D Findings
iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings
Conclusion

DDD TriDef 3.1.16 Beta DX 11

Introduction

I’m three quarters Russian, so I think I can get away with asking this question: why are my Russian brethren always the ones responsible for some nasty nuclear disaster or some whacky environmental mistake?  Sure, we’ve had the occasional Chernobyl and K-19, but who hasn’t?!?

In the continued spirit of comrade conundrums, allow me to introduce you to Metro 2033.  Yes, I know this game is getting on in age, but it’s a great test for DirectX 11 capability and 3D visual flexibility on all three stereoscopic 3D driver solutions.

iZ3D 1.12 DirectX 11

So let’s get on with it, shall we?  My Vadka is getting warm!


General Game Review

The thing video games have going for them is they give you the opportunity to explore new territories or places you would never think of going.  Moscow is famous for their underground subway system (AKA Metro), and is infamous for their purported secret track called Metro-2.  Metro-2 was (supposedly) secretly built by Stalin and the KGB, and there are no official confirmations of its existence.

Metro 2033 is a first person shooter that takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow (my bad), and their subway is the backdrop for this urban tale.  As is the case with all nuclear accidents, animals have mutated into evolved monsters, and human kind is at serious risk of becoming extinct.  You are a newbie soldier named Artyom, and have been sent to Polis Station to find fellow rangers to help fight off the “Dark Ones” or mutated creatures.  Unfortunately, there are several hostile metro stations along the way, and the surface is uninhabitable. 

DDD TriDef 3.1.16 Beta DX 11

The individual metro stations are like little towns along the way, and they each have their own theme.  One station is soviet, another is re-born Nazi, others have no theme and are just pitted with monsters and bad guys.  The artistic quality is excellent, but Moscow literally sits in its own rust making the environments less appealing than they could be.  I know post-apocalyptic Moscow isn’t exactly a vacation spot of choice, but I would have liked to see something more visually interesting.

Nvidia 266.58 Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision DirectX 11

The game play rules are a bit different with Metro 2033 compared to other titles.  First, to get better weapons, you need money.  What is considered money, you ask?  Bullets!  While local resistance can manufacture their own armaments, the best stuff is the pre-apocalypse military grade ammunition.  It causes more damage, but it’s also the only commodity available for buying better weapons.  Shoot your guns too much, and each kill could prove very expensive in more ways than one! 

iZ3D 1.12 DirectX 11

Metro 2033 offers a growing range of enemies including monsters, factions, and mercenaries.  You have to get pretty deep into the game before seeing enough variety, but 4A Games used some great ideas.  My favorite (so far) are the monsters you get around by facing down directly and looking in their eyes.

I have mixed feelings about Metro 2033’s AI.  Enemy strategy is spot on, but between the constant risk of running out of ammunition and the relentless enemies, the completion of levels can be a time consuming and stressful process.  At times, it made Metro 2033 feel more like work than play. 

DDD TriDef 3.1.16 Beta DX 11

The environments aren’t completely underground.  Many require you to go above where it is radioactively hostile, and you have to have a constant supply of protective gas masks to breathe with.  Be careful during combat, because the mask’s glass can break and leave you vulnerable to poisonous fumes!  Still, don’t expect to escape to a tropic paradise – it’s as grey and depressing above ground as it is below. 

Nvidia 266.58 Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision DirectX 11

To add more of a sci-fi twist to the game, the subway features ghosts of Metro’s past.  They can only be seen when your trusty flashlight is on.   Be careful!  You touch them, you die.  There is also an electric spark that travels the subway tubes that vaporizes everything in its path.  This was all a nice touch because it did add some fun to an otherwise morbid environment.

However, the big question is how Metro 2033 performed in stereoscopic 3D?


Nvidia Geforce 3D Vision

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
EVGA GTX580
Windows 7 64 Bit
NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Acer GD235HZ
NVIDIA 266.58 Stereo Driver

Maingear X-Cube
Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ
6GB RAM
GTX 470, GTX 275 (PhysX)
Windows 7 64 Bit
NVIDIA 266.58 Stereo Driver
Panasonic Viera VT20 3D HDTV 

Nvidia 266.58 Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision DirectX 11

First, if you are going to game in DirectX 11 mode, you need to turn advanced Depth of Field off.  Nvidia didn’t include instructions on how to do this, so here are step by step directions:

1) Go to your My Documents folder.  Turn on Show Hidden Files in the folder options if necessary.
2) Go to AppData / Local / 4A Games / Metro 2033 and open user.cfg
3) Search for "r_dx11_dof" and set it to 0.
4) Save the new file.
5) Steam users should go to Steam / Userdata and do a file search for user.cfg.
5) When it finds it, replace it with the new user.cfg file.  If this isn’t done, the adjustments won’t remain saved when you run the game.

The above change is not required for DirectX 9 or 10 modes.

While Nvidia did a good job getting Metro 2033 to work in DX9, DX10, and DX11 modes in stereoscopic 3D, the convergence settings are locked out.  Given Metro 2033’s spooky nature, it was a wasted opportunity to not have out of screen effects or at least offer the option for convergence control.  Nvidia did a great job with the dynamic scopes and crosshairs, and this could have been a competitive advantage for them. 

Nvidia 266.58 Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision DirectX 11

I strongly recommend a GTX400 series or greater GPU for Metro 2033 in stereoscopic 3D mode.  This is a performance hungry game, and every bit helps.


Dynamic Digital Depth


AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
EVGA GTX580
Windows 7 64 Bit
Zalman 24” 3D Monitor
Nvidia 266.58 display driver
TriDef Ignition 3.1.16 (unreleased beta)

When DDD learned that we were testing Metro 2033, they sent us an early beta of their drivers with an updated Metro 2033 profile.  DDD is very capable of a combined depth and pop-out experience.  More than that, you can adjust the 3D around the gun, screen, and sky separately to get a customized, comfortable mix.  While the dynamic crosshair features were intended for Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision drivers, DDD picked up on most of the programming cues, and is almost equally featured with their driver solution.  It’s still better to keep DDD’s crosshair active though. 

DDD TriDef 3.1.16 Beta DX 11

DirectX 9 is nearly flawless, and DirectX 10 and 11 require a visual settings reduction from “very high” to “high”.  Similar to Nvidia, DDD also requires that advanced depth of field be turned off in DirectX 11 mode or the driver won't activate the stereoscopic 3D visuals.  The GPU of choice is an Nvidia 400 series or better, or if you are in the AMD camp, 5800 series or higher.


iZ3D

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
EVGA GTX580
Windows 7 64 Bit
Zalman 24” 3D Monitor
Nvidia 266.58 display driver
iZ3D 1.12 Release

iZ3D hasn’t had a good streak with MTBS’ game reviews recently, and it’s good to finally see a break in the pattern.  For all DirectX versions, it’s possible to achieve a combined depth and pop-out experience.  The only caveat is there are inconsistencies in quality expectations depending on the DirectX version you are using. 

iZ3D 1.12 DirectX 11

I can’t recommend DirectX 9 mode because the glow around lighting gets duplicated, and it’s distracting.  DirectX 10 doesn’t have this problem, but you will need to reduce the overall visual quality to “high” instead of “very high”.  Similar to DDD and Nvidia, iZ3D also requires that Advanced Depth of Field is turned off in the configuration file in DirectX 11 mode or the driver won’t show the game in stereoscopic 3D.  You will also need to reduce visual settings to “high” instead of “very high” because of regular blur anomalies.  Some gamers may want to turn the "simple projection method" on in the driver to prevent the guns from separating too much. 

iZ3D 1.12 DirectX 11

While iZ3D’s 3D crosshair works with Metro 2033, I prefer to use the left shift or dominant eye functionality in the 3D driver.  This way you don’t have to consciously choose the right crosshair on the screen and just use what was designed in the game.  For the best performance, stick with no less than an Nvidia GTX 400 series or AMD 5000 series or higher.


Conclusion

Metro 2033 is a successful title on all three driver solutions.  While Nvidia offered the highest image setting flexibility, they lost points because out of screen effects were almost nil, and this undermined an otherwise flawless game.  DDD and iZ3D scored equally well and made Metro 2033 a well rounded stereoscopic 3D gaming experience once the right settings were in place. 

DDD TriDef 3.1.16 Beta DX 11

A full gallery of stereoscopic 3D images are available featuring samples from all three drivers solutions.  The stereoscopic 3D effectiveness scores were determined by MTBS' 3D Game Analyzer.  Please share your thoughts!

Nvidia DDD iZ3D
Game Play 7 7 7
Sound 8 8 8
Presentation 9 9 9
Immersive Nature 7.5 7.5 7.5
How Memorable 7 7 7
Stereoscopic 3D Effectiveness DX 9 8.5 10 5.5
Stereoscopic 3D Effectiveness DX 10 8.5 9 9
Stereoscopic 3D Effectiveness DX 11
8.5 8.5 8.5
TOTAL SCORE 8 8.25 7.69