In recent months, there’s been a number of next-gen remakes of previous gen games that only upgrade the graphics, add in the add-ons, and that’s basically it (I’m looking at you, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and The Last Of Us Remastered). But with Metro Redux, 4A games are bringing truly improved versions of their post-apocalyptic sci-fi shooters Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
For those unfamiliar with the series, both 2010’s Metro 2033 and 2013’s Metro Last Light — which are loosely based on Dmitry Glukhovsky novels Metro 2033 and Metro 2034 — take place twenty-odd years after Moscow (and possibly the whole world) was rendered uninhabitable by nuclear weapons. You play as Artyom, one of many survivors who live in the subways of Moscow. Using hand-made weapons and ammo, and your ability to be a sneaky S.O.B., you do your best to survive, whether you’re being attacked by mutants animals or unfriendly people.
But there’s more to Metro Redux than just shooting anything that moves. You have to scrounge for supplies (albeit without worrying about weight restrictions), use a hand crank to charge your batteries, and can extinguish lights so you can use stealth against your enemies. Which makes this like a cross between one of the World War II Call Of Duty games, Fallout 3, and the early Splinter Cell games, with a little Half-Life 2 thrown in for good measure.
At least that’s what you get from Metro Redux, which improves upon the original games — especially Metro 2033 — in some very significant ways.
The first change you’ll notice, regardless of which game you play, is that Metro Redux now lets you decide if you want to play these games like run & gun shooters with a bit of stealth (i.e, like Wolfenstein: The New Order), or if you’d prefer to survive this horror with limited supplies (i.e. like the early Resident Evil games). This is on top of having four different difficulty settings: “Normal,” “Hardcore,” “Ranger” (which has a limited HUD and hints), and “Ranger Hardcore” (which has no HUD, no hints, and no mercy).
But the big changes really come in Metro 2033. Unlike the original, the version in Metro Redux has vastly improved controls that are modeled after the ones in Metro Last Light. Except that, at the default setting, the controls in the original Metro Last Light were too loose, kind of like those in the Killzone games. And even if you adjusted the sensitivity, they still never felt quite right. But the controls in Metro Redux don’t need to be fiddled with; they not only work well, but work well from the get-go.
Equally improved in the Metro 2033 part of Metro Redux is the gas mask mechanic. When you go outside, or into any heavily irradiated area, you have to wear a gas mask. But while they fogged up really quickly in the original Metro 2033, which made wearing them more trouble than they were worth, they don’t get steamed up nearly as fast in Metro Redux.
More importantly, for the Metro Redux version of Metro 2033, 4A hired some human survivors who actually want to survive. In the original edition, you could easily sneak up behind people and take them out, even while their friends were standing nearby. They really were that dumb. But in Metro Redux, your fellow humans are not only more aware of their surroundings, but when you start shooting at them, they actually make an effort to get the hell out of the way. As a result, your fights with fellow survivors play more like a game of cat and mouse, and less like a game of cat and a ball of string.
The significance of the changes to Metro 2033 in Metro Redux cannot be understated. They really do make it a much, much better game. Which is great because the original version was, for me, a big disappointment. You see, I love the set-up of the Metro games. Not just the Call Of Duty meets Fallout 3 meets Splinter Cell with a little Half-Life 2 thing, but the idea that Artyom has lived his whole life in the subway because the surface is an nuclear wasteland. Not only does this set up some interesting engagements, but it also gives these games some seriously dark and moody atmosphere, which makes them genuinely scary at times. But the original version of Metro 2033 squandered this great premise, and its resulting atmosphere, by being having bad controls, annoyingly unaware enemies, and the frustrating gas mask mechanic.
Of course, the improvements to Metro 2033 in Metro Redux don’t have as much of an impact on the new version of Metro Last Light, but that’s largely because the original Metro Last Light was a far better game. That said, the Metro Redux does have the aforementioned small improvements to the controls and enemy intelligence.
Though what is interesting, about both games is that for the first time in a visually upgraded remake, the upgraded visuals actually make the game better. In others (I’m looking at you, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and The Last Of Us Remastered), the improved visual fidelity only those games look better, it didn’t make the actual game any better. But in Metro Redux, the graphic upgrade to both Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light makes the mutants look a lot scarier, especially since you can now tell they have bat-like faces. Granted, it doesn’t change the mechanics, but when one of these things jumps out at you now, you’re more likely to jump as well.
For all of it’s improvements, though, there are still some ways in which Metro Redux could be even better. For starters, I wish they had sped up Artyom’s walking speed, especially when he’s sauntering around one of the villages. I also wish that when you find a gun lying around, that it would tell you how it compares to the one you’re using. Sure, it says whether it has any attachments, but it would be nice to know if the pistol in that box over there is more powerful than the one in my holster.
Also, while the humans in the Metro Redux edition of Metro 2033 are a lot smarter, sometimes they’re still dumbasses. Or at least forgetful. Because if you’re in an area that has some traps set up, your fellow survivors will sometimes forget where they are and get caught in them, even though they were the ones who set them up in the first place.
It’s also kind of dumb that you can still find copies of Glukhovsky’s Metro books lying around.
But the biggest issue I had with Metro Redux is that if you’re attacked while you’re with a friendly character, enemies will often run right past your pal and charge at you, as if they don’t notice the other guy shooting at them. Granted, this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough that it bears noting.
Normally, when it comes to remakes of relatively recent games — and once again, I’m looking at you, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and The Last Of Us Remastered — the new version isn’t worth buying if you’ve already played the games. But in the case of Metro Redux, it’s totally worth the double dip, even if you liked the originals.
As for those who haven’t played these games before, well, it should be obvious by now that Metro Redux is the way to go. And not just because you get two, two, two games in one. With great atmosphere and an engaging premise, Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light should’ve been great post-apocalyptic sci-fi shooters. And now, thanks the improvements in Metro Redux, they’re finally living up to their potential.