STAFF REVIEW of Metro Simulator 2 (Xbox One)

Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Metro Simulator 2 Box art There’s no shortage of simulation games where you can perform any job you could possibly think of. The latest in the genre is Metro Simulator 2, placing you in the role of a conductor of a popular metro train. Of course there’s a niche for everything, though this is quite focused on a very specific audience. Uniquely, Metro Simulator 2 has you navigating the tunnels for Moscow, allowing you to ride two separate trains while forcefully following speed limits and picking up passengers.

While there’s no typical Campaign, there is a Scenario and Freeplay Mode depending on how you want to play. Scenario is where you’ll learn how to play, acting as a tutorial of sorts, and another scenario where it lets you basically freeplay, visiting each of the stations. While there’s not a lot of scenarios, they do tell you how long each is going to take from the onset, though you’ll need to commit a good amount of time as they can be well over an hour long each.

The scenarios are difficult to complete though for a number of reasons; frustration, understanding, boredom, and/or game breaking bugs are generally the top offenders. Running a metro train isn’t simple though, and even getting it moving can be a challenge in memorization given the dozens if buttons, levers, knobs, and switches. Then you need to watch your speed, up ahead for track signs, stopping properly at each station, and picking up passengers.

The tutorial scenario will teach you the basics of being a metro conductor, but even early on I started to notice a few issues. There’s a lot you need to do before you can even get the train moving, and while I did appreciate that there were arrows pointing at exactly what button to press or lever to pull, if you don’t have a picture perfect memory, there’s no way to go back and read the tutorial steps over once again. The only way to remember it all would be to replay the tutorial over again if you come back to the game after a long break.

It’s all very difficult to control, as you need to move your cursor around slowly, all while the dashboard is beeping loudly at you for speeding over the track limits and the e-brakes kick in. With two trains to operate, one is quite dated and old school, where the other is a more modern train. With lengthy scenarios asking for a lot of your time upfront, the problem is that there’s no saving option outside of the Resume feature on Xbox. If you exit a scenario an hour in because you ran out of time, you’re going to have to start all over again next time as there’s no autosaves or progress points. Having a checkpoint at each station would have been a help to stop some of this frustration.

I could have overlooked some of the smaller issues which are commonplace is simulators like these, but what really started putting a sour taste in my mouth is having a game breaking bug at the end of the tutorial scenario. At the end of the tutorial you reach the end of the train line, having to swap around the direction of the train and go back the other way. For whatever reason, the emergency brakes engaged, which is normally a simple toggle, but it wouldn’t disengage. This meant my train was unable to move, so I couldn’t complete the scenario, losing all the time I’ve invested in the scenario given the lack of saves and checkpoints described above.

Given that I had to review the title, I of course started again, only for it to happen the next time as well. You can guess my level of frustration at this point. Of course I’m a glutton for punishment and go through the whole scenario once again. Somehow things finally worked as they were supposed to and I was able to complete the tutorial and get my achievement. Next scenario had me travelling to each of the stations, which is no big deal now that I’m a master at maneuvering the metro, except each time I tried, the alarm wouldn’t stop as if I was speeding, even though I wasn’t. This meant I had to continually hold ‘A’, and even a single km/h over the limit and the emergency brakes would kick in. Annoying to say the least.

There are two different trains you can navigate, the Nomernoy and the Oka. Nomernoy is the much older train with plenty of classic buttons and levers. This train takes much more effort to get going and stopped, as it’s much older technology. The Oka is much more modern and quick. Getting the train going is very fast, and stopping is substantially better than the older version. Even though I should like the modern train more for its ease, something about the manual controlling of the Nomernoy was more rewarding, having to use multiple levels of braking to stop when required, when it worked of course.

Being a simulator, you’ll need to look at each button and lever to use it, so it can be difficult to see what your current speed is when having to constantly adjust via levers. There’s actually very little notifications to help you, as you can’t tell when a station is coming up until it’s almost too late. More than once I almost blew by the stop as I fumbled around with the controls, and having to zoom in on the dashboard while unable to look out the windshield can cause you to miss things or over speed, which causes the emergency brakes and an annoying alarm to constantly berate your ear.

I can be forgiving when a game has bugs here or there if they aren’t game breaking, but when the game forces you to quit out literally in the tutorial, numerous times, it just sets itself up for failure. I only kept with it because I had to review, but the lack of care and quality assurance is astounding. The text for what it tells you to do is a literal port from the PC version, yet no one bothered to check and change it saying “Use Left Click” to whatever button needed on the controller. Oddly, there’s also certain punctuation missing like apostrophes, so words like “don’t” actually show as “don t”. Small things like this normally wouldn’t bother me much, but it just showed the negligence.

Graphically, don’t expect anything that will impress. Sure there’s generally not much to look at when you’re going through dark and barely lit tunnels, but even the stations are as lifeless as the NPC’s that board the metro. Every NPC looks dead inside and the stations have absolutely no character to them, everything is just bland. While I've never been on the metro in Moscow, I can only assume that its' quite authentic.

The audio is no different, with pre-recorded sounds that don’t match what’s happening at all. For example, the train speeding up should sound as if it’s going slow at the beginning until the engine whirls louder the faster you go. Going less than 10 km/h sounds as if you’re going full speed, and slowing down, going into neutral or a light brake, just stops the audio even though you’re still moving. The station announcements are done well, though I don’t speak Russian, so I’m unable to make sense of some of it until the English version comes over the speakers.

I’m all for odd, quirky, and niche simulators, as I generally find them relaxing, but when you’re frustrated more often than having any enjoyment, it’s hard to recommend. I’m sure if you’re a metro fanatic there will be some enjoyment, but the lack of care and quality on the console version of Metro Simulator 2 is almost at an embarrassing level unfortunately.

**Metro Simulator 2 was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 3.6 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 2.0 / 10


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