This console generation has seen a number of re-releases of PlayStation 3-era titles. In this latest effort, Deep Silver and 4A Games have not only decided to bring last year’s Metro: Last Light to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but also Metro 2033, which is seeing its first-ever release on a PlayStation platform as part of the bundle, Metro Redux.
As a result, this review will focus more on the improvements that Metro Redux brings to the table, as well as looking at Metro 2033 more extensively than Metro: Last Light. For those interested in reading our review of Last Light, click here.
In late 2013, Russia was struck with atomic bombs leading to an all-out nuclear war. Severe radiation across Moscow has forced the remaining people who survived the bombs to move into the Metro underground. The game begins with our protagonist, Artyom, heading out to meet his friend Hunter, an elite ranger who comes bearing grave news. Hunter has discovered the mysterious creatures that he refers to as the Dark Ones are threatening to destroy his home of VDNKh and potentially the rest of humanity. After an attack by creatures mutated by radiation, Hunter tells Artyom that, should he fail to return, to take his dog tags and seek out assistance from a station called Polis.
Naturally, Hunter does not return and Artyom must head out to Polis to ask for aid. On his travels through the Metro system, Artyom must travel through territories controlled Soviet era Communists and Fourth Reich Nazis, fighting over territory in the Metro system. Although the game’s story begins by foreshadowing the Dark Ones, the narrative unfolds at a slow pace for quite awhile without much of a presence from these malevolent creatures. Outside of a few hallucinations throughout the game, the Dark Ones don’t make much of any appearance until the final few chapters.
In Ranger mode, 4A Games has done something interesting with the Metro’s core mechanics by eschewing the UI. This affords the most immersive player experience, as the lack of UI means gamers will have to keep tabs on how much ammo they have, while resources prove extremely sparse to say the least. Although this mode can be extremely difficult for some, I found it the best way to play and became completely immersed in the experience. One of the additions that 4A Games has brought to Metro 2033 is the addition of the Spartan game mode. Introduced in Metro: Last Light, this mode allows players to play a more action-oriented version of the game where air filters and ammo are plentiful throughout your adventure.
Players will have to choose what weapons they use and what ammo they use throughout the game. Ammo conservation is paramount to your survival, especially on harder difficulties. Elsewhere, you’ll also will find weapon grade ammo; essentially in-game currency that allows you to purchase hand-crafted weapons from the inhabitants of Metro. Furthermore, the ammo can also be loaded into these guns giving them double the damage and stopping power. Players will have to don a gas mask in order to breath outside the metro system and other areas where radiation is strong. The gas masks themselves will crack and eventually break if players take too much damage.
Both Metro titles have benefited from some major visual overhauls, with characters boasting increased detail and environments and lighting also receiving a next-generation makeover. Metro 2033 also sees some of Last Light’s animations and refined shooting mechanics implemented into the game, putting it on par with its successor.
Traveling through the underground with nothing but your flashlight and seeing shadows move around will definitely leave an impression on you. The game’s atmosphere is probably its greatest achievement. Watching the people living in train carts, the abnormal plant life growing through the metro system, seeing the looted and eaten corpses of people left to die in the aftermath of the nuclear war, and clapping eyes on the snow-covered surface now inhabited by mutated animal life is some of the best I’ve seen.
Light also plays a role in encounters. Those looking to tackle the game in a more stealthy approach will have to blow out candles and turn off lights to stay hidden in the shadows. Unfortunately the enemy A.I. has a hard time seeing the player in the shadows even when they are right in front of them. At one point in the game I was standing no more than two feet from an enemy and he couldn’t see me. I also found that some of the mutated dog creatures can be easily avoided by simply taking a few steps back as they lunge to attack you and continue to swing and miss as you slowly just back away.
Metro Redux’s sound design is well-executed. Ambient music plays throughout the game and creates a perfect companion to the grim, post-apocalyptic setting. Likewise, the game’s voice acting is pretty strong, with some convincing Russian accents prominent throughout. Yet, despite the solid English voice acting, I still preferred playing the game in Russian, not because I can understand it, but because I felt more energy and emotion was put into it and it felt to me that this was the way the game was meant to be played. My only issue with the voiceover is with Artyom himself. Artyom’s voice is only heard before a mission begins as he presents his situation in a monolog. I find it bizarre that 4A Games made Artyom a silent protagonist throughout the game but gave him a voice only before a chapter begins. Finally, Metro 2033’s story, in comparison to Last Light, comes up pretty short although it’s not a major issue.
Overall, Metro: Redux is a great compilation of two titles that players may have missed the last generation, and 4A Games has done a great job at creating a game based on Dmitry Glukhovsky novels. Metro: Redux is one of the most atmospheric games I have played and it left me completely immersed in its world.