Review – Metro Redux

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The Metro games occupy a strange place in the last generation’s first person shooters. Based on a science fiction novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky; the world, characters and atmosphere are utterly stellar. However; the actual game mechanics and certain plot elements have tended to rub gamers the wrong way. Each of the two games in the series thus far – Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light – have their own great strengths and weaknesses. In this next generation overhaul (god how I hate the nonsensical term ‘redux’), developer 4A Games is attempting to smooth out some of the series’ rougher edges and present the definitive versions of both games.

So how does Metro Redux fair? As it turns out; its still a game of two halves.

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From the moment the game boots up it becomes apparent that 4A has taken the criticisms levelled against Metro 2033′s control system on board. Last Light was praised for its more robust shooting mechanics, and Metro 2033 allows you to choose between its original, survival horror orientated experience, or ‘Spartan’ mode – a more action FPS orientated affair using Last Light‘s control scheme. I opted to go with the latter to see how the updated control scheme stacks up against the original experience. The answer is very well – the game as a whole feels much more robust and tactile for it. The problem is that it does take away from the intense experience the original offered – giving us both choices is a good move from 4A for those of us who actually enjoyed the original. Graphically the game has practically been rebuilt from scratch and, while not quite hitting the heights of Infamous, Ryse or The Last of Us, is a very pretty game indeed.

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Character models in particular have been completely redesigned. Although it can be jarring (some of them are completely different!) for Metro aficionados, it is a definite improvement. Lighting is fantastic, environments pop and the whole affair runs at a silky 60fps which dramatically improves the experience. The AI has been given a much needed fine tuning as well – no longer will an entire platoon of sewer-nazis pile onto protagonist Artyom if he so much as farts into his hand. It makes playing 2033 as a stealth game much more achievable, something that was obviously the intent first time around. The story in Metro 2033 is still evocative, original and full of memorable characters (don’t worry – the dubious accents are still in place!) and with the tightened controls, improved AI and next gen polish, its a game I can’t recommend enough.

Its a shame I can’t say the same for Last Light.

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The sequel isn’t based off the original novel, and boy does it show. Whilst the controls are tighter, the visuals better and the whole game smoother, Last Light as an experience is a far less interesting affair. It feels like after crafting an eerie, emotive ghost train ride with 2033, 4A decided that they needed to create a game that would appeal to a wider audience and so borrowed all of Call of Duty‘s least appealing aspects – the man following, the turret sections, the big action setpieces. And don’t even get me started on the level design – the section in the swamp that sees you half blind while assaulted by spindly creatures still fills me with dread for all the wrong reasons, an exercise in abject frustration.

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Being the more recent game; Last Light‘s next-gen overhaul isn’t as dramatic as its predecessor. 4A has instead elected to do a light graphical spruce up to bring it in line with its PC counterpart, and of course that 60fps frame rate is present and just as welcome. All the DLC is included in the package, and at a budget price this really is a bargain.

Metro Redux is an odd package to score – on the one hand you have one of the finest horror FPS games of the last generation, all its flaws ironed out and running better than ever. On the other hand, you have its lacklustre sequel not feeling all that much different. One thing is for sure though, its a meaty package and at a very reasonable price is something you should definitely take a gamble on.

8.2

Matt Reynolds

Review-Deception 4

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Have you ever wanted to drop an electrified pain mask on someone’s head, causing them to stagger into an iron maiden, fall from that into a cannon that fires them into an electric sign, which lands them onto the ground where a giant circular saw that descends from the ceiling chops them up, causing them to then land on a springboard that catapults them onto a hotplate and while they’re busy hotfooting it, a massive hammer knocks them onto a carousel which spins them around until the horse they’re on launches them upward into a circular saw conveniently positioned on the carousel roof?

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Review-Valiant Hearts: The Great War

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Pope John Paul II said, whilst making an impassioned speech to the Italian Corps. Diplomatique, “War is not always inevitable, it is always a defeat for humanity”, and of the many wars waged across the expanse of human history, there are none for which this appeal is as applicable, as it is to the two Great Wars through which human suffering was taken to its furthest possible extreme. With this is mind, and with 2014 being the centenary of the start of the First World War, Ubisoft Montpellier has seen fit to remind us of the senseless violence, the human cost, of the war between 1914 and 1918 with its UbiArt framework powered, Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

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Studio MDHR-Cuphead

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Microsoft brought, rather expectedly, a strong emphasis on games to their E3 press briefing on June 9th, and whilst the line-up was predictably covered by a strong collection of AAA system sellers, such as Forza Horizon, Halo and Assassin’s Creed, there was a newly found desire to move past the inevitable array of sales dominating sequels towards something new and inventive, something that can only be truly discovered through the current swathe of upcoming indie games. Included among them, was a rather stylish looking shoot ‘em up from a small, five man team working out of such far afield places as Oakville (Ontario), Regina (Saskatchewan), New York (NY) and even Romania . I am, of course, referring to the gorgeous looking, Cuphead, from Studio MDHR.

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Sega: The Creative Years-Part 4

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A common theme throughout this series of articles has been the presence of Sonic Team, and once again they feature here. This surely highlights the incredibly talented and inventive studio that they once were, before losing several key members (including Yuji Naka), and succumbed to churning out near endless sub-standard Sonic the Hedgehog titles with neither a whit of quality control or indeed, effort. However, fourteen years ago, this was not the case, and after giving Sega a flagship Sonic title in the form of Sonic Adventure (his first and best 3D outing), and the brilliant puzzle game, Chu Chu Rocket, they served up another forward thinking piece of game design, with the incredible, Phantasy Star Online.

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Solid Microsoft Brings The GAMES at E3

phil spencer e3After enduring much criticism after last year’s showing at E3, Microsoft have had to go back to the drawing board and return with a revamped image, and a console with a stellar line-up of gaming titles strong enough to win the ongoing “console war”. In recent months, Phil Spencer (head of all things Xbox) has spoken frequently about keeping the company’s focus on the most important aspect of any console, the games, but was this just rhetoric, or has he, and Microsoft Game Studios as a whole, been able to back up his bold words…

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The Weight of Expectations… and Souls

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Expectations are a dangerous thing, especially in videogames, just ask the likes of Bungie or Valve. Bungie struggled to maintain the high standard set for themselves with Halo: Combat Evolved – the game that launched the original Xbox – famously revealing how after a year into development of Halo 2 they had to scrap their entire graphics engine as well as large sections of the game. As for Valve, after having released Half-Life 2 in November 2004 to universal acclaim, we’re yet to hear any official news on the inevitable Half-Life 3, almost ten years on.

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Review: Mario Kart 8

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It has now been twenty-two years since the original Mario Kart powered its way into the hearts of gamers across the world on the SNES, with its winning formula of combat racing and familiar Nintendo characters, making it an instant classic and one of the finest multiplayer games ever created. Now though, Nintendo bring this classic series to the Wii U, presenting the first ever Mario Kart game to feature HD visuals, but putting its graphical upgrades aside, does the tried and tested gameplay still hold up today? And is it really the game that Wii U owners have been waiting on?

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Review: Warface (Xbox 360)

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Crytek make their debut into the free to play market with the release of their stylish FPS, Warface. Yet the arena of the military shooter is a very crowded one, and outside of the interesting co-operative elements that-at least in part-define it, does Crytek’s latest do enough to drag your attention away from the game’s big budget brethren?

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