Metro Redux is a remastered version of both 4A Games’ Metro 2033 & Metro: Last Light, which originally came out for Xbox 360 and the latter made its way to PS3. The revamped Redux version, published by Deep Silver, is headed to PS4 and Xbox One on August the 29th 2014. Based on the best-selling novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro Redux follows the story of Artyom, a saviour of the Russian nuclear fallout of 2013.
Russia has been decimated and the surviving populace have been forced to live underground in various Metro tunnels, due to the radiation poisoning. 20 years after the missiles fell from the sky, wildlife on the surface has mutated. Unimaginable and horrifying creatures roam the wastelands and abandoned tunnels. With food looking scarce, ammunition is the only real currency. Mankind’s days are looking bleak indeed. And yet they become even bleaker when a mysterious new species arises, named ‘The Dark Ones.’ Mankind are unsure as to what they are or where they came from, but they are causing hallucinations so powerful that humans and mutants alike are left running scared. Artyom teams up with a ranger named Miller and they must travel through the tunnels and venture topside to save what is left of humanity.
The first thing people want to know about any remastered version of the game, is whether the visuals have improved or whether any content is actually different to the previous version. Well, with Metro 2033 the game has been completely overhauled. The upgrade and attention to detail is based on the Metro Last Light model and is simply stunning. Very rarely has an older game been completely transformed and still managed to keep much of the atmosphere that made the original so revered. The lighting, texture on the characters, level design, movement and enemy AI have all been revamped. NPC movement has also improved on Metro 2033 but the articulation is still a touch wooden. However, whilst essentially this is the same game, it feel completely new. Although, Metro Last Light has had the odd touch up here and there, with a very noticeable 60 frames per second upgrade, the upscale is minute in comparison to the Metro 2033 revamp. But either way the visual consistency between the two titles is to be commended.
Metro 2033 has also adopted the same gun-play and movement mechanics of Last Light, adding much continuity as well as smooth gameplay to both games. Little touches such as the gas mask screen wipe have also been added to the original, after all it is hard to see with all that blood in your face.
Yes, if you are in any doubt Metro Redux is in fact a first person shooter but the game has so much more to offer. The storyline and the rules surrounding the storyline are what makes the game unique and compelling. With much of the population living underground, even with the threat of mutant creatures or ‘dark ones’ lingering over their heads, humans will turn on each other just to gain a slight political advantage.
Ammo is the new currency and it’s understandable as to why. Bullets are scarce in Metro 2033 and you are often forced to pay out in shells in order to buy medical supplies or swap one type of ammo for another. In a world where food is poisonous, the only thing you have to bargain with is bullets, because that is the difference between surviving and dying in the Metro.
In terms of tone the first Metro has a lot in common with Half Life 2. You are the one chosen to fight the dark ones and unite the people, whilst fighting off poverty, government regimes and nasty monsters. You’ll receive bizarre cryptic visions too, once again similar to Half Life, but where are these visions coming from?
Whilst Half Life 2 (in simplistic terms) is about rebellion, Metro is all about survival, even venturing to the surface can be a death sentence. Players will don a gas mask, which prevents them from inhaling the polluted air, but as military grade equipment is non-existent you’ll find yourself changing the filters on your mask every 5 minutes. Only problem is, much like the ammunition supplies, filters are not easy to come by. On the surface you feel vulnerable and exposed as packs of tiger/ape-like creatures hunt you down. The skies are encompassed with gargoyle-esque monsters, who will swoop in and pull you into the air unless you hide in cover. The swamps are filled with unseen and deadly sea life. Everywhere you turn is a death trap.
Metro Last Light follows on from the aftermath of the events of Metro 2033. However, even though the changes between both titles, at first, appear subtle, the transition is massive, but also welcomed. It would have been easy for 4A Games to regurgitate the same story as the original game, but instead the sequel focuses on the monstrosities of human nature. The old Russian power struggles between factions resurface. Supremacy is everything.
Metro Last Light even introduces colour, a stark contrast to 2033. But the use of colour has a darker undertone. In various safe havens there are strip joints and Can-Can Girls, reminiscent of the 1930’s art deco era. The show, the lights are all there to cause wonder and amazement in contrast to the dark tunnels of the Metro. However, it is humanities illusion of civilisation and progress that leads to the more debase debauchery and need for power. You soon begin to realise that it is not the monsters on the surface that you need to be worried about.
In terms of gameplay Metro Redux has a fair bit to offer for a first person shooter; Set pieces are often varied switching from stealth, frantic gunplay, an engrossing story all the way to daunting horror sections often found in the dark tunnels of the metro. The horror sections and stealth sections were clearly the highlights. Being alone in the tunnels, riding along on an engine powered cart and having to make pitstops to open large barrier doors lead to some incredibly tense and scary sections. The sense of isolation and not knowing what lurked in the dark left me on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion.
Stealth was also a prominent part of play, especially in Last Light. Creeping around enemy camps, blowing out the gas-powered lamps, shiv kills and confusing the enemy as to your whereabouts, are by far some of the best moments in the game. I don’t exactly have an aptitude for stealth but the game caters for the noisier players too. The AI may be alerted to your presence but because the Metro is so dark it is easy to lose them. Sometimes I would drop in the middle of a group and blow them to kingdom come, only to dash off before reinforcements arrived, leaving them nonplussed as to my location. Thus stealth play would resume.
The only thing I found odd about Metro Last Light, in comparison to its predecessor, was the abundance of ammunition. Rarely was I out of ammo or filters, making the game much easier than 2033. Upgrading weapons in 2033 is costly, largely due to the lack of currency you carry with you. In Last Light, my weapons were partially upgraded very early on in the game, making the overall game relatively easy. Even boss battles, by comparison, didn’t feel overwhelming.
As for negatives, both games suffer from the same problem. Controls are finicky. The overall movement and gun-play is fine and works wonderfully, but the application of equipment is where things get a bit complicated. Holding down the left shoulder button opens two menus. From here you can use one set of equipment by pressing directional pad towards the desired item, the other set of equipment is adopted using the 4 main buttons. Fortunately, the game slows down whilst all this equipment swapping is going on, but after a while you become accustomed to the various devices on offer and you learn to accept that this is part of the challenging aspect of the game itself.
The other problem is the amount of railcar battles. There are many segments where you are on a cart trundling along the metro when all of a sudden you are ambushed by mutant creatures trying to climb on board. These segments sadly come way too often and interfere with the progress and pace of the game. They often make you roll your eyes and think “oh no, not again.”
Having only briefly played both the original Metro games, the redux version is in fact welcomed. I rarely enjoy first person shooters but the absence of multiplayer has meant that 4A Games has been able to create something truly special. Even if you are re-playing both games again, the inclusion of both titles leads to a lengthy and fantastic campaign. This may not be the masterpiece that Half Life 2 is but Metro Redux is certainly on par with its contemporaries such as Wolfenstein: The New Order. For those who missed out first time, have fun roaming those dark tunnels.