Tashkent Metro 2033: this way to the underworld?
Media and Internet, Photoblog, Uzbekistan, Videoblog3 Comments
Metro 2033 is a remarkable new computer game set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow. The premise is so cool I’m surprised no one thought of it before: during a nuclear war in the very near future, 40,000 residents of Moscow take refuge in the city’s vast subway system. The game starts 20 years later. The stations have become villages; indeed, several have united around ideologies — the Communist “Red Line“, the Neo-Nazi “Fourth Reich“, the Capitalistic “Commonwealth of the Ring Line“, and the Hellenistic “Polis” at the center and in which some semblance of regular civilization persists. The denizens must not only contend against hordes of ever-mutating monsters from the surface and the bowels of the earth, but also with each other as they vie for resources, ideological dominance, and citizens (or slaves).
A friend introduced me to the game late the other evening. I looked over his shoulder while he wandered the Hades-like subterranean world of the game. Believe me when I say that the atmosphere is creepy and otherworldly, but also tragic. At the top of this post is a YouTube video showing one of the more story-centered chapters in the game, in which a mystical Special Forces character named Khan leads your character down an abandoned tunnel while ruminating on whether Heaven and Hell themselves were atomized in the nuclear holocaust, rendering Moscow’s subway system a kind of re-pagan Slavic netherworld. Not only is the game an imaginative satire of contemporary Russian society, but it is a moving exploration of humanity.
The game is based upon a novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Apparently he’s working on a sequel with the intention of expanding the fictional world to Saint Petersburg and Minsk. Some fans have suggested Berlin and London as possible other locations. Speaking as a native New Yorker, I would love to see a version for the Big Apple, but alas I don’t think it would be feasible. The Soviets purposely built their subways to be indestructible bunkers deep in the earth. New York’s subway system, however, is only inches from the surface and requires huge pumps to keep from flooding. Besides, it’s already populated by enough pre-radioactive freaks and lunatics; I’d hate to see what it would look like after a nuclear war.
But you know which city might be a great candidate? Tashkent! It’s got a subway system on par with that of Moscow. Check out the photographs below from Flickr users. Leave a comment below if you have any ideas about what you think should be included in this fictional Tashkent. A station run by Islamists? What kind of mutated freaks would roam the surface? And where would the Karimov girls hide out? ;-)