It’s another “upgraded” version of a beloved classic and its hit sequel which came out only last year. Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light are the latest games to be given a next Gen makeover and put together in a neat little package simple known as Metro Redux. Both games have received positive reviews from both critics and gamers who love the immersive world of Metro, their impressive stories and top notch survival gameplay. Now for those who haven’t played the games originally here is your chance to check out an experience unlike COD. But to ask was it worth revamping these cult classics with the many other revamped, definitive and upgraded titles out there?
In many respect the answer is yes as Metro 2033 was only playable on pc and Xbox 360. Its also a yes because both of these games have their faults that have held them back from achieving true greatness. We hoped with these added features and tweaks that both games would offer a higher experience. I will break down both games for this review and discuss if this is the case.
The world of Metro is truly spectacular, looking beautifully detailed and having presented such great depth the world felt truly alive. Being set in the Russian Metro after a nuclear war, the remains of humanity are forced underground to live in various metro stations. Deep enough to survive the nuclear blasts, thousands of people live in fear and unrest due to the many hostile factions at war, flesh eating mutants and other, much stranger things that go bump in the darkness. Both games look beautiful as the world of Metro is revamped in high detail, bolder textures, lighting and color to enhance the visual aspects of the game.
The games center on Artyom, a young man who goes on a simple quest that turns into an epic journey to find a friend of his father. Soon to discover the many horrors outside his home station and an unseen threat that plans to destroy the last humans in Russia. Or so he thinks. The two games look at many subject matters and one of gaming most famous in form of gameplay, the fragile. Both games are very good at examining these deep thoughts and along with many interesting characters to follow, the games only become stronger with its plot and emotional connection.
The stories put these subject matters into play as you will have to make a number of choices to determine the fate of humanity. Many of these choices are often given and feel too clean, knowing what is right and wrong. But some are often disguised and made more complex due to character relations or the fact that it tests that right maybe wrong.
Many characters such as Khan, Hunter and Pavel all have distinctive personalities that reveal the effect of the metro on each of them and how this new world can change a person’s perspective on humanity. There are some characters and story lines which weaken the experience slightly. Anna, the only female character who’s not a prostitute or a single mother is a hard as nails sniper who taunts Artyom at the beginning, then falls madly in love with him only after knowing him for less than 8 minutes together and when he heads off to war, she stands by the side giving him a cold, lifeless stare.
Enough about the deep story stuff, game play!
Originally the games had their problems, many animations were stiff, the AI was pretty stupid and the structures of many missions were repetitive. This being an issue because it broke that connection between game and player, breaking the immersion. Some of these problems are fixed and a few new additions have been added. A vast number of animations have been greatly improved, feeling more organic and convincing to observe, such as the silent kills and monster movements. However there are a huge number of graphical glitches appearing from time to time. There are however some awful ragdoll effects (See image below), a number of characters walking through each other and solid objects along with quite a few invisible walls appearing in the wrong places and the lack of them in the right ones.
These little problems soon add up and ruin the experience for a number of reasons. It’s hard to explore or feel your free to do so when there is an invisible wall blocking an open corridor or a leap from one platform to another. It breaks the immersive state for the gamer and the biggest problem, it feels lazily made. I will admit the thought of additions to enhance the experience are nice but in reality, they are merely little touches. These are either cinematic videos or an extra rooms filled with goodies to find. They are nothing to truly push your experience further or to offer a new challenging aspect. But rather just a thoughtless extra that wouldn’t effect your experience if it were taken away. Believe me I know.
The mechanics within the game are simple yet effective to ensure an interesting survival experience. You can use a number of tools which help you combat certain hazards, more than just your standard NPCs. A portable generator ensures you’ll have power for your flash light but needs manual charging to do so. Keeping an eye on your watch which shows how much oxygen you have is again a great idea for survival gameplay along with disarming traps, taking out light bulbs, sabotaging generators and even being able to wipe away blood, sweat and mud from the front of your gas mask makes a thrilling experience. Other issues have been fixed allowing for an improve means of either stealth or fire fights taking place. The game is not so stiff in terms of interaction or movement making your journey less frustrating than before.
Yet Redux offers very linear gameplay, never allowing you to tackle on certain obstacles such as NPCs with a bit more creativity. You can’t place your own traps, or lure enemies away with anything other than throwing items to make a noise or scare away mutants with fire (although an NPC does it but you can’t). There are moments where you will have to use a flash light to tackle a certain spider like enemy, causing them to burn is creative but most others are tackled with a handful of bullets or silently taking them out. For a survival game, tackling a majority of problems often relies on the same tactics of any standard FPS. There are some neat tricks with the watch and generator which add tension but overall, the gameplay is just your standard FPS gun-hoe action or Chronicles of Riddick style stealth kills (which has better animations). Instead you get a room filled with a group of NPCs where you have the choice of fire fight or stealth and these types of encounters are repeated often and mostly next to each other. So you’ll complete one section then go onto another, then another and another and soon enough it becomes tedious.
Redux had the chance to expand the world but it is still often constricting and any open world/sand box sections are too few or short to appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, the moments in the tunnels are great but Last light offered a Half Life 2 inspired section where you drive a motor car in an open section where you can explore different paths and hidden rooms. This was one of the most entertaining parts of the game and one where exploration, survival and horror combined beautifully. You do have other populated stations too which have character but not much interest. One station had a shooting range, with boats and rivers. The world up top does offer wide open spaces and grand locations to visit and some dynamic events taking place. Yet again there is a feeling of a linear path to follow and not much to explore outside your predetermined path to follow.
There are a number of impressive set pieces in both games from climbing a derelict tower to chasing a speeding train. Some however have lost their impact over time and the epic climax to Last Light feels like a cheap Call of Duty knock off. The small scale war in Last Light feels duller as its scale does not feel grand enough compared to the other more bolder set pieces. Even with its improved graphics the developers did not add onto the experience already to improve tension or action in the ending segment of the game.
The horror aspects of both Metro games are captivating and intense. Set pieces which explore the supernatural side of the metro are vast, including man eating rats, bring lights that destroy organic matter and reliving tragic past events to give more depth to the horrors of the metro. The atmosphere could be cut with a knife and the setting is great for a horror game due to its confined spaces and complex level designs meaning if you take a wrong turn, you will certainly risk your life.
The DLC missions are included in this pack as a means to show off certain characters and their experiences in the Metro. They’re pretty standard missions with no new added features for gameplay. There’s a sniping mission with Anya, Pavel’s stealthy escape from a criminal hideout and the usual Metro stuff, again nothing that innovating. Khan’s story is the best out of the lot, with a very revealing tale about his past including some very entertaining set pieces and action sequences.
The problem is that the game lacks any complex gameplay to make it dynamic other than its little features to bring a strong sense of immersion. I would have appreciated more open world segments, fewer missions where you have to pass through endless areas of roaming enemies and the biggest set pieces to have been developed more thoroughly to bring an ultimate and engaging action experience. Metro has always build itself on survival game play designed on thought provoking choice and creativity.