The Metro series has always been a rather special case among video games. Based on a Russian book franchise by the same name, Metro has never exactly received the big-budget treatment so many other titles of similar quality enjoy, and developer 4A Games didn't expect their work to explode the way it did, either. Nevertheless, Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light have proven major successes, thanks in large part to the studio's consistent dedication to the series' survival horror theme.
Metro Redux can be viewed as the direct result of the games' unexpected acclaim, which has sustained a cult following since 2033 came out over four years ago. But what is this Metro Redux Deep Silver and 4A seem so proud of? I was given the opportunity to find out firsthand, but let's go over some of the Redux basics.
Rest assured these rereleases are more than just HD makeovers. The small yet devoted team at 4A have quite literally rebuilt Metro 2033 from the ground up on the latest 4A Engine, an updated version of what Metro: Last Light used. That alone would probably justify Redux, but the powers that be went even further by expanding the playable content. Loading screens have been reduced, meaning some areas that were previously split apart due to technical limitations can be combined into larger zones without awkward transitioning. New areas and events are also found scattered all throughout the wasteland, and for anyone who preferred Last Light's more action-driven style of play, a Spartan Mode adds such an option.
With Metro: Last Light barely a year old, a simple visual update wouldn't have sufficed. Some cosmetic improvements were implemented, but 4A threw in all the DLC as well, plus the new Survival Mode designed to emulate the classic Metro 2033 feel.
The demo that I was fortunate enough to try out was specifically the PlayStation 4 option, and both 2033 and Last Light were available to me. Since Last Light honestly hasn't been out for that long, I dove straight into the Metro 2033 Redux. No hard feelings, LL.
Enter the Metro (Again)
The 2033 level I tried was Dead City, a two-parter in the original game. In Redux, the two segments have been made into a single level, and I opted to do a little exploring with the Spartan setting.
First thing I notice is just how amazing everything looks on the new engine. The updated visuals go way beyond just detailed textures, but how the entire world is presented. In the original Metro 2033, the outdoor environments suffered pretty heavily just in terms of lighting effects, namely because the tech 4A was using at the time was only good for low lighting. That's no longer a problem, and before anyone can cry foul about brighter environments being detrimental to the whole survival horror thing, let me assure that isn't an issue either. After all, sunlight doesn't penetrate the underground tunnels, and the stark contrast between interior and exterior spaces really adds that much more to the game.
Running straight into a Dark One while fleeing from a pack of Watchmen through an abandoned building? With or without improved visibility, moments like these -- where the player is scared half to death -- remain prevalent.
On Spartan Mode, Metro 2033 seems to genuinely embrace its connection to Last Light. Mind you, the games still can't be played like most action shooters, because that's simply not what Metro is about. The differences between Spartan and Survival were not especially obvious to me, as I tend to play Artyom as a bit of a sneak anyway, though it can be accurately characterized by the shift in tension. Combat in Spartan Mode is considerably more fast-paced, unhindered by the slow reloads and weapon-swapping found in Survival. This means hostile encounters are suddenly less terrifying than before, but the game remains fairly lenient on how you'd like Artyom to be played. Just stay away from Demons as much as possible; they tend to be jerks regardless.
What I find particularly interesting about Metro Redux is the way it effectively bridges Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. One is a direct sequel for the other, yet the gap in time and quality between the two was rather startling. By revisiting 2033 and essentially remaking it in Last Light's image, 4A Games is showing their persistent commitment to what is, quite frankly, an underappreciated series. More than that, however, Redux does feel like a gift to their fans. Here's hoping a third Metro game isn't far behind.
Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.