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.
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.
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.
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.
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.