Pros: Great atmosphere, great graphics
Cons: Demanding engine in DX11 (but that is to be expected), character animation could be better
Having said that, I didn't have an easy relationship with the game at first. The game didn't perform that well on my newly acquired GTX 460 1GB, and I soon found out that my Core 2 Duo E8400 was the culprit. But all things have a good reason, and Metro 2033 was the reason I upgraded to a Q9550. Even at stock, the Q9550 let the GPU perform as it should and I could finally play the game on High settings.
And what a game. Sure, it's not easy to get into it because it deviates from the norm in some respects, such as not giving you much ammo throughout much of the game, so you have to be smart about it. The A.I can also be a pain sometimes because the human enemies don't come out of their hideout on a predictable schedule for you to conveniently shoot; instead, they wait, hiding until you make your move, which means you have to study the area, figure out where they are and then be quicker than them when shooting and quick to hide again for the next round of enemies. Don't expect to clear out a subway tunnel in one go, it just won't work unless you're a pro. While this can seem frustrating at first, combined with the lack of ammo, it only makes for a more rewarding experience in the end.
The graphics are excellent, with high resolution textures and glorious DX11 effects. It's one of those games that can max out a GTX 480 / 580's 1536 MB of VRAM at 1080p, which was extraordinary considering only GTA IV before it could actually make use of so much VRAM. But contrary to GTA IV, which is a console port using DX 9, Metro 2033 can render in DX 9, DX 10 or DX 11. It truly is a PC marvel to experience, and one of the few games in the last years to give PC gamers something truly remarkable to experience. There is one aspect that might not please the enthusiast though: you can't tune every graphical aspect to your liking, although the developers made the smart move to tell you in a detailed item list exactly what kind of eye candy each quality preset has. Apart from that, you can define what DX rendering mode you want, AA, AF, advanced PhysX and depth of field in DX 11 mode.
The one point the next game clearly needs to improve is the facial animation, which is very basic. The skin tones are good, but the characters you interact with can't convey their emotions properly. Luckily the general character animations are good and the voice actors do a good job, meaning that the general atmosphere of the game doesn't let this aspect get in the way of the experience.
One thing that is clearly noticeable though is that much of the beauty of the game is hidden behind a gas mask, especially outdoors where you have to wear it all the time (you can take it off for brief seconds to admire the beauty of the game in its full glory, but that doesn't last long because your sight will quickly become fuzzy because of the lack of clean air and you have to put the gas mask back on if you don't want to die), which you also have to manage, including replacing it or replacing the filters, and the capabilities of the engine in general may seem also hidden behind the fact you play a lot of the game indoors, but all that is an integral part of the story and why the game has so much character.
After you have learned the game mechanics you really start to enjoy the story. And unlike perhaps all other shooters, this game is based on a book, and that shows throughout, especially on the level loading screens, which are very well used to put the narrator (you) speaking about the experience you just had and the expectancy of what lies ahead. The general mood of the game is also very well accomplished with sounds and music to match the destruction visible throughout the game and the precarity humans are living in that post apocalytpic world. In a gaming world full of first person shooters, this one stands out not only for it's advanced engine but also for being memorable for the atmosphere it successfully creates.
And for the low price (€ 10,20) I bought it for and the low prices you can currently buy it for (normally around € 9,99 or $9.99) it's more than worth it.