The world as we knew it ended in 2013, with the outbreak of a nuclear war that destroyed much of civilisation. In Moscow, it forced the populace that could into the underground network, to scrabble in the darkness and struggle through the day-to-day of simply staying alive, with the various outposts of humanity that survived the next 20 years besieged by mutated beasts called Dark Ones.
Upon its release in 2010, Metro 2033 became something of a cult hit, based off the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky and with this suitably dark setting. The first person survival horror genre suited the game to a tee, with a blend of action and stealth, and that constant hunt for scarce resources on Ayrtom’s post-apocalyptic journey.
However, Metro 2033 was only released on Xbox 360 and PC, meaning that PlayStation 3 owners were left out in the dark until the sequel arrived on their platform a year ago, in Metro: Last Light. The Metro Redux releases – coming both as a bundle or individually this summer – will bring both games to the new generation of consoles. Amidst the current rush to bring popular games from the last generation to the new, Metro Redux actually makes a lot of sense.
For 4A themselves, it keeps otherwise idle hands at work while pre-production is underway on their next title, but then it also allows them to bring the excellent quality of graphics from the PC releases to consoles, using that version as the basis for the port before striving to actually improve the graphics further. These improvements also mean the Redux releases will come to PC, though with a discount for existing owners.
For Metro Last Light, the upgrades are quite minimal, but for 2033, all of the improvements made during the development of Last Light have been rolled back to the earlier game. The newer models and animations for the mutated enemies, for example, have been brought to the first game, and there have been tweaks to lighting and skybox for when you head above ground, which has a much greater contrast to the darkness which you will find underground, the shafts of light in buildings are more prominent and the outdoors in general much more striking.
Considering that these were very CPU dependent titles on PC, it’s quite a positive sign for both consoles that their many smaller lightweight CPU cores seem to be adept enough to feed the GPU and get 1080p60 out of the PS4, with no real hiccups that I could see while playing briefly, and 900p60 on the Xbox One.
The changes and improvements, however, have not been limited to the graphics and, in an uncommon move for these kinds of re-releases, extend over to the gameplay and level design as well. Again, Metro 2033 sees the most work on this front, with the much larger pools of RAM allowing 4A to stitch levels together with some new sections of game and avoid some of the loading screens.
Perhaps the most interesting additions are the new Survival and Spartan game modes, added to 2033 and Last Light respectively. As 4A came to develop their sequel, they made efforts to clean up some of the gameplay elements, from the first and make it ever-so-slightly more inviting to newcomers, however, what these two modes essentially boil down to is transposing ideas from one game to the other.
Last Light’s Spartan mode pulls the gameplay closer in line with the more survival horror oriented style of 2033, then, while Survival seen in 2033 adds Last Light’s more overt watch and stealth indicator, the ability to wipe blood splatter from Ayrtom’s visor and a slightly increased difficulty with slower reload times and increased AI perception.
All in all, these are far from being essential purchases for existing owners of the two games – though the refreshingly budget pricing will certainly be tempting – but they do offer genuine improvements and changes over the original releases. The graphical boost is a big selling point between the console generations, but the decision to also go back and tweak gameplay, alter levels and add new game modes make these feel like more than a quick cash grab.