Metro: Redux / 31st of August 2014
The latest console generation is struggling to provide new games for anyone who’s already picked up either a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, as release dates are pushed back time and time again. And so the solution to this drought appears to be, remaster and re-release games previously available on PS3 and 360. So far we’ve seen Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, The Last of Us Remastered and Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, yet none of those can really provide as much value as publisher Deep Silver’s latest offering Metro Redux. Including both Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light, this double feature at least offers something more extensive than just a graphical upscale and some free DLC, namely two games for the price of one.
The Metro series, not unlike The Last of Us, was something I’d previously never dipped my toe into, and for anyone in a similar situation, the chance to pick up a copy is something not to be sniffed at. Based on the book of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 is a decidedly bleak and grim affair, as it should be when you’re assuming the role of a survivor of the nuclear holocaust. The feeling of struggling to stay alive in the decaying ruins of Moscow’s underground is something developer 4A Games has managed to capture expertly, so much so that although the game is technically a first person shooter, it at times feels more appropriate to label it as damn good survival horror.
Whether it’s claustrophobic unsettling metro tunnels, or the irradiated and outright frightening surface ruins, 2033 is a game with a great sense of atmosphere set in a thoroughly convincing world. Not only is the game’s setting and tone well thought out, the central story is engaging and generally of a high standard. As young Russian survivor Artyom, you’ll be forced to make your way from safe haven to safe haven in an attempt to secure salvation for your home station, its existence now threatened by the emergence of irradiated creatures known only as the Dark Ones. And assuming you can forgive the rather cliché Russian voice acting you’ll be in for an enjoyable experience.
As 2033 is the older of the two games within Metro Redux, its flaws are more noticeable to someone who may be coming to the series for the first time. Frequent glitches, such as in-game events not activating, left me wandering around at a loss as to what to do next. And although the graphical improvements brought to this latest version are well implemented, its corresponding effect is to make character models appear more obviously dated. Metro Last Light by contrast still feels more in-line with current shooters. It has a greater emphasis on action, and graphically speaking you’ll notice - especially if you play each game back to back - how much better said character models and particularly NPC faces look. However the narrative isn’t as strong as its predecessor, the storyline in 2033 feels tight and sharp, whereas Last Light’s offering is full of convoluted double crossing, and occasionally exasperating characters. Though the sequel improves on the graphical standard, and gameplay itself feels more polished, Last Light brings these improvements at the expense of a compelling storyline. Whichever is more important to you personally will ultimately decide which game you feel provides the better experience.
Despite this, with 2033 now running on the same engine as Last Light, the graphical standard is maintained over the course of both games. This along with the fact that Metro Redux offers players two distinct types of gameplay, means that you can combine 2033 and Last Light allowing it to feel as if it were just one big game, rather than two games with differing play-styles.
These new gameplay modes on offer in Metro Redux allow players a greater degree of control over how they approach the game. While Survivor mode restricts players’ ammunition and encourages a greater degree of stealth, Spartan mode removes these obstacles in favour of more direct gameplay. It’s a simple, yet inspired idea to appropriate the specific type of gameplay each game focussed upon when they were first released. If you prefer the more action orientated experience of Last Light then Spartan mode will accommodate your needs. Conversely if you want to struggle and sneak your way through the entirety of Metro Redux as if it were an extended version of 2033, then Survival mode is perfect. And as we’re told by the likes of Capcom that survival horror is dead, and that series such as Resident Evil must become more action orientated in order to survive, it’s impressive that a relatively smaller studio like 4A Games has managed to do something the biggest franchise in the genre couldn’t. A feat all the more impressive when you consider how seamless each mode feels within either 2033 or Last Light.
To have both games, the DLC, and this option to effectively alter the gameplay to suit your own personal preference, makes Metro Redux a great example of value in an industry which currently appears to offer very little in that regard. If like me you never had the opportunity to play it first time around then it’s a no brainer. Metro Redux feels like the videogame equivalent of the very best kind of B-movie, something akin to John Carpenter’s The Thing or Escape From New York, rather niche looking from the outset but still definitely worthy of widespread attention. And if you’re already a fan of the series, then think of Redux as a director’s cut box-set, giving you the definitive versions of both 2033 and Last Light.