It’s a rarity in reviewing when you put a game through the process a second time, but that’s what I found myself doing with one half of 4A’s Metro Redux collection, Last Light. At that time it had been a rather large amount of time between playing that and its predecessor, Metro 2033, so comparisons were done with a bit of a hazy memory. Now both games sit together offering two looks at post apocalyptic Moscow, with the character Artyom being the guide.
Since Redux is a new generation upgrade of two last generation games, one of the main focuses will be the way the titles look, feel, and sound. Visually the thing that is most apparent, especially walking through the ruins of Moscow, is that Redux looks brighter. The originals had incredibly dark, grey skies, but here the clouds and the snow seemed whiter, giving a rather peaceful look to the nuked city. I personally believe that this brightness works as it gives a stark contrast to the tunnels you spend much of your time in.
That’s not to say that cloudy skies are the only weather types you’ll get as storms lash the landscape, with rain falling hard, even the winds have weight as they impaired movement. The character models have all had an upgrade and they look a lot smoother with a lot more details discernible on their faces. However what can’t be ignored is how often certain models are recycled through the games. It can be a bit strange seeing someone get killed by a point blank bullet, only later to see that same face serving drinks at a station bar.
Sound also plays a major part in both games, setting the atmosphere as well as being an indicator for your equipment. A good survival game makes you keep an ear out for telltale sounds of beasts approaching or equipment failing, while a great game makes you fear those sounds. The echoing calls of the fast and powerful watchmen on the surface, and the guttural shrieks of the nosalis in the tunnels always make you stop.
You have to decide on the spot if you have enough bullets to survive a wave, or if you can run to your goal. Those aren’t the only noises that can invoke uneasiness as the various sounds of the Metro itself, from the creaks of the metal to other sounds you can’t quite place pierce the silence. Then you have Arytom’s laborious breaths as his gas mask filters wear out, and you hope you have more in reserve so you don’t die. The voice acting of the main cast is good, though some of the NPCs sound a bit off. What little music there is is very well composed too, with the main theme being particularly memorable.
The availability of the air filters and bullets all depend on what difficulty and what version of the game you decide to play. Before you start you can choose either to play the Spartan version or the Survival style. Spartan is much more generous with the equipment you can find and the amount of bullets lying around, while Survival requires you to manage supplies carefully. After that you can select difficulty from normal to Ranger Hardcore, with the latter removing all heads up displays and enemies are incredibly strong.
In the end I decided on playing with the Survival option on normal difficulty, and even that proved challenging. There were moments where my ammo stock ran out in the middle of a fight, meaning I had to sprint to my goal while hoping nothing would take me down. There were other times, and this was more frequent, where my air filter supply was dangerously low meaning in certain areas I would have to try to get to the end of a stage before suffocating. It instils a sense of panic, one that very few games manage to make you feel.
One of the things I noted in my original Metro: Last Light review was that the game felt a lot more action oriented compared to 2033, but with these difficulty options put in place that gap is reduced, though not all the way. Playing the games back to back still shows the different focuses 4A Games had for the individual titles, and that isn’t really a bad thing as it works in conjunction with Artyom’s evolution as a character.
In Metro 2033 Redux you face the horrors and beasts of the Metro itself through the eyes of a character who is facing this danger for the first time. It’s a true survival horror experience, while in Last Light you’re a seasoned fighter who has faced much of what the Metro can throw at you. In terms of how this affects gameplay I would say Last Light feels slightly easier with bullets being much more plentiful, even with the same difficulty settings as 2033. In Last Light you have many more human enemies compared to 2033, as the second game’s story does focus on the conflict that arises as different groups try to survive in a relatively small and dangerous environment.
You can approach both games through either an all-out guns blazing approach, a stealthy approach or a mix of both. I found myself favouring a stealth approach in quite a few areas, opting to use a silenced pistol and throwing knives especially in the areas of human enemies. There are moments though where you have no choice but to unleash round after round of gunfire. I found the stealth play very satisfying as I worked out how to take out individuals in places where others wouldn’t see. Sometimes though that would all fall apart and I’d find myself in a battle where the AI would manoeuvre to trap me. On a couple of occasions I’d been unaware of being encircled until I got shot from behind.
It’s advisable to fill your three gun slots with different types, with my set up including a pistol, a machine gun, and a shotgun. Each can be customised with silencers, extended magazines and barrels, as well as different sights. At first the guns felt a little weak but after some tweaking with the customisable options you can put together guns that have real stopping power.
As well as the base games you also have access to the DLC that was released as extra for the last generation. There’s quite a decent selection of single player story levels here that give perspectives of other characters in the game, as well as a background on who they are. I’d advise trying them after completing the main game so you can place them in the story, and to avoid some spoilers.
In Metro Redux you get a complete package of one of the most under appreciated series of the last generation. You have an interesting set up here based in a post apocalyptic Moscow that marries together the fight for survival between humanity and nature, as well as humanity’s own infighting, with hints of the supernatural. In terms of bargains this may just be the best remastered option available, with hours of gameplay. I’d say you could quite easily get almost 20 hours out of this package.
Metro Redux puts together survival horror and survival action in such a well presented first person package, that if you’re a fan of any of them then this is for you. A solid story, an interesting cast of characters, and two games that make you panic in a good way. It’s worth the price of entry.
Version Tested: PS4