THQ's Metro 2033 has suddenly from way left of field become one of the most talked about, highly-anticipated games of the year so far.
Set in the Moscow underground following a cataclysmic nuclear attack, the title is a dark FPS with RPG elements - based around the novel of the same name from Russian writer Dmitry Glukhovsky.
Xbox World 360 saw fit to award the game 90 per cent in its Metro 2003 review - and from what we've seen, the PC version of the game looks every bit as good, if not better. It's also the first major title of 2010 to be available in full and glorious 3D.
CVG sat down with THQ's head of global communications Huw Benyon to get the full story on the release...
We first saw Metro 2033 at your big Moscow event before Christmas, what's been the main progression since then?
Fundamentally the build you saw in Moscow was basically content complete - so the plot was there the story was there and all the set pieces were scripted. Everything that we've been doing since then has been fine tuning, polishing, balance, improvements to the graphics, audio, additional particle effects, lighting effects, pretty much the whole things just been through the mill basically.
So hopefully you've seen a substantial hike in the graphical fidelity, the engine's holding up phenomenally well - just the overall presentation's much, much better.
The build we showed you in Moscow had a lot of known concerns with some of the control mechanics, so they started to implement the 360 controller but.. the sensitivity was off, the run function wasn't really working very effectively.
We've done a huge amount of overhauling there - as you've probably seen from the code, we've completely tweaked the look mechanic so it just feels much more solid, much more what people will expect from the best FPS games.
You've got the ability to set your own regular aim sensitivity or firing sensitivity, we've remapped some of the buttons and you've got a much slicker run function. We've also increased the character movement slightly so it's just a slicker experience all round.
On the balancing side, from quite some time ago we were aware that ammunition or lack thereof was proving to be a real problem for people coming to the game. We've been trying to find the right balance between not wanting to spoil that sense of urgency, sort of survival horror mechanic, but at the same time not leaving people either really frustrated or unable to fight back or put in unfair situations.
So there's been a lot of balancing, slight readjustment of the amount of ammunition and we're confident we've got that right now. What that means is that you're able to make use of the trading mechanic a lot more, so players who are particularly cautious and do conserve their bullets will find that they've got more potential to upgrade existing weapons and buy new weapons.
The storyline and atmosphere comes across strongly, do you think that's going to be a big differentiator for Metro?
I think the setting and the story are definitely the strongest points about the game, that's what we've been given by Dimitry by basing this on a book rather than just having the plot kind of bolted on as an afterthought, as an excuse to set up the next gun fight.
I mean it's a story that's got genuine character development, genuine highs and lows, moments of poignancy and we'd like to think a slightly deeper undercurrent and meaning running through it that you'd expect from, you know, a good film adaptation of a book.