The Metro franchise is latest in a long line of remasters, a trend that’s becoming disturbingly regular in the industry as studios simply rehash and re-release previous successes for the next generation.
I can see the sense behind it. The numbers say that a lot of people who own PS4s and XBOs skipped the last generation of console gaming entirely – so bringing back some of those hits is a good way to net some extra revenue before gaming careens towards the next big crash and to fill the current void in next gen content. Some are essential if you haven’t played them – The Last Of Us, for example, is a worthy repackage of an important game bundled with some new content. Others are just plain weird (Sleeping Dogs? Who’s lying awake at night praying for a remastered next gen edition of Sleeping Dogs?… You didn’t think a sequel would be a better option?). My point is the gaming industry has reached a point where the publishers no longer make the games their audiences are asking for. Big companies now seem to think they can tell us what we want to buy.
Thankfully, Metro isn’t one of those games. The first game is something of a cult classic, certainly something worthy of more attention than it got. Hell, at one point it was even being given away for free in an effort to get more people to play it before the sequel was released. Taking place in a brutal nuclear wasteland that makes the Fallout franchise look like a light-hearted comedy series, you’re tasked with fighting your way through the Moscow metro network years after the end of the world as we know it. You step into the shoes of Artyom, a softly spoken survivor who only really speaks in the interludes between levels to deliver the necessary exposition. Otherwise, he’s almost entirely silent. He’s the lens through which you see the Metro, just your average Joe (Vlad, maybe?) doing his best in a horrific situation. Artyom doesn’t need to converse with other characters or commentate on the scarred, infested landscape to get them across – the game does a perfectly good job of doing that itself.
This is survival horror at its finest, and the Redux edition is much more than a simple lick of paint – it’s been rebuilt from the ground up with a new engine and brought more stylistically in line with Last Light. Metro 2033: Redux should be the main reason anyone buys into this bundle, as the graphics have been given a huge overhaul that has to be seen to be believed, many of Last Light’s new features have been retroactively introduced, and, well, the game just feels new again. New lighting effects and dynamic weather bring the bleak world to life, and as you stalk through the tunnels fighting off monsters and other people, Metro will drag you into its world and won’t let go until the ending – which remains as superb and perplexing as it always has been.
The “signature moves” carried across from the developer’s experience with Last Light work towards making 2033 an altogether much more fluid and complete experience. Weapon customisation, stealth kills – they seem like obvious additions, and with the tweaked combat and improved enemy AI, it’s good to have a few more tricks up your sleeve. It’s worth running through the redux edition of 2033 for the visual update alone – but the new features help make it a more definitive experience.
Redux also introduces two new game modes to choose from – Survivor and Spartan. Survivor is the original experience – a tense, slow experience fraught with danger, with limited supplies and clever enemies. Your time will be spent carefully picking around areas, keeping a close eye on every bullet you use, and your survival will come into question in almost every fight. Every enemy, every trap, every missed shot can become your downfall, and as you crawl across the surface pursued by winged creatures and cracks begin to spread across the visor of your gasmask the game switches pace. Every moment becomes a fight to survive. There will be times where you’re surviving by a hair’s breadth, from mask filter to filter. The slow burning stealth sequences erupt into a desperate struggle. Just as you breath a sigh of relief, the next horrible thing appears on the horizon – and the fight begins anew.
For my first play through Redux, I opted for the Spartan game mode, a new and perhaps more accessible way to play. It’s more action-oriented, with bountiful resources and an emphasis on guns-blazing combat. The snob in me wants to decry it as sacrilege, but it’s genuinely good to offer everyone a choice in how to play a truly one-of-a-kind title. I had fun – it does strip away a lot of the tense atmosphere that makes 2033 so uniquely haunting. The core of the game remains the same, and you get much the same experience, but for your first time – at least try it in survivor mode.
If you’re going to buy any of this new wave of remastered titles, Metro 2033 should be it – even if you already own the original release. The atmosphere and storytelling the first game created in such an artful way has been repackaged with next gen visuals and new modes to suit guns-blazing gamers and hardcore survivalists. Get it. Don’t question it. Just do it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.