The Stalin Subway

In The Stalin Subway, you step into the boots of MGB (future KGB) officer Suvorov as he uncovers and must foil a daring plot to kill Stalin with a nuclear device. You’ll venture through a number of desolate and depressing 1950s Soviet locations in your battle to save the glorious leader, battling it out with other Russians using a number of realistic weapons.

11_1Stalin Subway is a fairly typical FPS that works much like the previous game from the same developer – HellForces. Both games were better received in their native countries than in English-speaking ones. It’s an interesting concept as far as its design goes, since few games are based in the Soviet Union. But the gameplay is very typical – you blast through level after level of enemies, encounter the odd obstacle (a locked door or disabled power generator), and must pass each mission in a linear fashion with little opportunity to stray from a beaten path.

Visually the game doesn’t show much promise. It verges on the bizarre, with lifeless character models that look like synthetic mannequins. You’ll often stray open neutral NPCs just hanging around for no reason. While this is a gimmick that is supposed to generate atmosphere (as it had in such games as Half-Life), here they just stand around and don’t seem to engage in any meaningful manner. AI inconsistencies work to enhance this feeling – you can blast an enemy all over the wall, and a neutral NPC in a nearby room, whom you’d expect to be panicking, won’t even react to your presence.

The levels, however cold and drab, offer some of the more positive higlights. For one thing, much of the environmental objects (a fancy term for level props) are destructible. What can’t be smashed apart can sometimes be interacted with, such as searching cabinets or crates for ammo and other useful items. There are vehicles you can control as well within some of the levels, including metro trains.

Weapons are comprised of typical Cold War-era firearms from various countries, such as a German Luger pistol, PPSH-42 SMG, a British STEN gun, AK-47, grenades, an RPG or an anti-tank rifle. All of them sound realistic and have a nice kick to them. The AI, on the other hand, makes poor use of them. You can simply bum rush many of the enemy soldiers within the game, who just stand there and wait to be shot. They don’t move much at all and don’t exhibit much in the way of proper tactics.

Besides the dark Soviet ambiance, there is little to The Stalin Subway to really impress. The game is a typical shooter with all of the usual conventions and trappings. It’s average on its best days, formulaic as hell on its worst.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 1.5 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB Video, Win98

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