I’ve always been interested in playing the Metro games, but 2033 sort of passed me by and I don’t like entering a series in a sequel if I can help it, thankfully 4A Games and Deep Silver released Metro Redux which gave me a chance to play through both games on shiny new hardware and this past week I finished both 2033 and Last Light.
Before I go into the games directly I thought Metro Redux great collection overall, both games included and updated, the technical improvements like 60 fps and 900p on Xbox One (1080p on PS4), all the downloadable content included and any other balancing or otherwise that was done. For both games at a lower price than a regular new release it’s a great package and well worth the money to support the developer when they make something that is genuinely good value. Some collections or “remasters” are full price without adding much at full price but Metro Redux and something like Halo: The Master Chief Collection offer undeniable value which is great to see in the age of getting as much money out of consumers as possible.
The games themselves left me with very mixed feelings that I can’t quite decide how I feel about them, I played them on Survival mode (which I felt was a necessity) so I was scavenging for ammo, grenades, military bullets (currency) and I thought this helped create the atmosphere that 4A Games were going for. The games are obviously intended to be atmospheric and I think they did hit that note really well, its a somewhat creepy post-apocalyptic Russia with demons and other human enemies, you do feel like sometimes you’re being hunted and trying to be conservative with your resources when killing enemies. The environments feel as dead as they look, very grey and murky (which is what was intended) and I liked the gas mask mechanic when you’re on or near the surface, it didn’t give you unlimited time to do what you want and always meant I had to go searching for oxygen packs to ensure I didn’t run out. The lack of a HUD also helped, the screenshots on this post are all direct captures from my Xbox One and theres only occassionally pop-ups for ammo, no health bar, ammo doesnt always show when you’re reloading, thats also a nice touch to focus on it being an atmospheric game.
Unfortunately though as much as I liked the atmosphere I felt it didn’t really come to anything like it was missing that payoff for the player whether it was in the action itself or through the story, unfortunately I didn’t feel for a single player game that the story was particularly engaging which disappointed me as it’s an interesting world and all very well put together, it just didn’t really go anywhere. I thought this was more the case with 2033 than Last Light, I thought the atmosphere was a bit better in the original and the action sections were more of a focus in Last Light especially near the end of the latter where it had more of a “set-piece ending” but again I felt fairly indifferent towards it.
A few other things I liked were the way it handled some of the other survival aspects, such as your light which can run out of battery and requires charging after a time, you have a lighter that you can use to vanquish cobwebs, a compass to point you in the right direction are just a few other things that add a bit of extra detail to help put forward the idea of you trying to survive in this apocalyptic nightmare. The currency that you collect in the form of military grade bullets which are found by scavenging for them, it starts off slow and you really have to maximise what you get out of them for weapon upgrades, buying ammo, grenades, health packs etc, particularly in 2033 by the time I got to the end I had a ridiculous amount of them (like 700 or something) so it definitely gets more generous as the game goes on and makes it easier to upgrade weapons and stock up on ammo.
When playing the levels there was the option certainly when fighting human enemies to go down the stealth route and sneak around, the level design (more so I found in Last Light) had lots of hidden routes to sneak through if you wanted to, the throwing knives killed pretty much any enemy with one throw but it was difficult to stay concealed consistently. I thought the AI seemed a bit too aware of “noises” and people going down, sometimes I’d kill someone who was completely on his own and I was still outed, but once I got used to this I would focus on killing a few in isolation then throwing grenades to get rid of clusters of unsuspecting ones to avoid being caught in a difficult spot.
I was reminded of the original Far Cry with some of the mutants beasts that are in the game the ability to use a stealth approach (or guns blazing), fighting people as well in little settlements – both are fairly linear experiences with optional little paths and exploration within that although obviously quite different settings between a sci-fi FPS set on a tropical island and an atmospheric survival shooter set in post-apocalyptic Russia.
Both games are very well made and more importantly updated though, good production values, they look great in the Redux version and running at 60fps the frame rate remains smooth and an impressive feat on the 4A Engine, a lot of effort has gone into this collection and its all up to scratch.
It was really a strange experience for me, the criticisms I have don’t mean I dislike Metro – I played them literally back to back over the course of a few days, so I definitely enjoyed them, none of them are major issues that make it a bad game by any stretch of the imagination I just felt that despite the good things Metro does, there was just something missing. I don’t want it to be something it’s not, like a standard set-piece action packed military shooter, because that’s not what Metro was trying to be, the atmosphere was important to the experience and well executed, I wouldn’t want the series to lose that identity but I did feel it lacked that important ingredient. Perhaps I just didn’t really enjoy the story, how it was told or what happened which is certainly on me perhaps more than the developer but I’d still recommend people play Metro Redux and experience it for themselves.