Review: Metro Redux (PS4)

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Title: Metro Redux
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (16.8 GB)
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Original MSRP: $49.99 / $24.99 separately on PSN
ESRB Rating: M
The two games can also be purchased separately from the PlayStation Network:
Metro 2033 Redux (7.7 GB)
Metro: Last Light Redux (9.1 GB)
Metro Redux is also available on Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 387 of the podcast.

Editor’s Note:
Portions of this review also appear in our PS3 coverage of Metro: Last Light.

** This will be a completely spoiler-free review and all screen shots have been carefully selected so as not to give anything away. **

Gameplay:
Released exclusively on the Xbox 360 and PC in 2010, Metro 2033 finally makes its way to the PlayStation along with last year’s sleeper hit Metro: Last Light in a wonderfully upgraded package. The games are based on the best-selling Russian novel Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, and while Last Light was originally titled Metro 2034, it bears little to no resemblance to the sequel novel of the same name.

In Metro 2033, you play the role of Artyom, one of the survivors of a 2013 nuclear war now living in the Subway (Metro) tunnels that ring Moscow. People have broken into factions over the years and the tunnels are controlled by disparate groups including neo-Nazis and hard core Communists. Mutants arose from the radioactive wasteland above and Artyom appears to have a gift that give him the ability to connect with the “Dark Ones”. Early on in the game you’ll meet a Ranger who is part of The Order, the self-appointed guardians of The Metro. Making a promise and with the future of The Metro and humanity at stake, Artyom leaves his small enclave for the first time since the war.

Metro: Last Light continues the story of Artyom, now a Ranger himself, on a mission to track down the last remaining Dark One. If you never played Metro 2033, Last Light does a good job laying the groundwork for you through flashbacks and cutscenes.

Both games are First Person Shooter/Stealth based experiences. There is no HUD and you’ll need to rely on visual cues about your health and weapon status. Depending on the skill level selected you’ll either have prompts to use Health Packs and reload weapons or you’ll be left to figure it out on your own.

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With the release of Metro Redux, the developers have given players a few choices, the first being Play Style. With Survival, the original feel of Metro 2033 is recreated with an emphasis on stealth and resource management. Ammo is scarce and combat is tougher. You can also try Spartan which skews slightly more towards a Call of Duty-like experience and an emphasis on action. It’s an interesting choice and will certainly make the game more welcoming to people who just want to experience the story.

Next you’ll need to decide your Skill Level. There was some controversy with the release of Metro: Last Light on the PS3 last year as Ranger mode was included as a code unlock in the pre-order Special Edition of the game and then made a paid add-on in later prints. This time around everything is included right out of the box. Skill Levels range from Normal to Hardcore to Ranger and finally Ranger Hardcore. Normal, being the easiest, is more like standard FPS fare while Ranger Hardcore turns off all UI and hints and cranks up the difficulty to the extreme. Ranger mode is what made the original an underground hit on the PC and to a lesser extent the 360 and it’s a welcome choice here.

As the game takes place decades after the factories have shut down, ammunition needs to be manufactured in the tunnels. With that ammo being pretty low quality, the currency in this world is pre-war military grade ammo. You’ll get paid in this ammo and you can then use it to buy weapons and upgrades or as (much better) ammo if necessary. Either way, you’ll find early on that ammo is scarce and you’ll need to be careful when entering into a firefight. To that end, the game rewards stealth and you can get through most situations with some careful slinking through the shadows. Slipping in behind an enemy and knocking them out or flat out killing them with your knife can be a satisfying experience. The mechanics work really well and it’s a nice challenge to see if you can make it through an entire area undetected but it’ll require a lot of patience to pull off. Interestingly, it felt as though the areas is 2033 were much more difficult to successfully sneak through and ammo was more readily available while in Last Light the opposite appeared to be true.

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The pacing is a little different between the two games as 2033 leans more towards the typical FPS experience moving from level to level with the story moving forward on the loading screens. In Last Light however, story usually takes precedence over action. Some levels are almost entirely exposition as you make your way from A to B. It’s not going to be for everybody and some may be itching to get back to the action but this is first and foremost about the story and everything in Last Light is built to serve that purpose. That’s not to say that 2033 skimps on the story in favor of action, far from it. It just that Last Light feels like it has more story to tell.

With that being said, how do the two games work as a coherent story? Quite well actually, albeit with a few minor stumbling blocks along the way. With the original game being based off a bestselling book in Russia, finding a table in a little library in one of the stations with that and the sequel laid out as if for an autograph signing session was a cute and clever nod to the origins of the game. Seeing the books pop up more and more, including the poster touting the release of the sequel Metro 2034 (along with the website) starts to pull you out of the game world and back to cold, hard marketing unfortunately. There are also a few boss battles in Last Light that feel forced and unnecessary in the greater context of the story and game.

Overall though, the two games work really well overall since they’re coming from a strong narrative in the form of the original books. There’s a lot to learn about the world through interactions and eavesdropping on NPC’s making multiple playthroughs well worth the effort. Having the two games available in one low cost package is a fantastic option

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Visuals:
Last Light was a fantastic looking game on the PS3 and the developers have done an even better job here. The textures, lighting, shadows, everything has received an upgrade, looking more on par with the PC version than the original PS3 version ever did. This is the first time we’re seeing 2033 on the PlayStation and it looks just as good as Last Light. Both games are just thick with atmosphere and the attention to detail in the environments is off the charts. Every place you’ll see looks and feels like it’s truly been “lived in” for a good twenty years as it should.

Each of your guns has an attachment indicating whether you’re in the light or not, critical for stealth. You’ll need to take out lights to sneak around undetected and you can do this by either unscrewing the light bulb or breaking it. In a series where stealth is so important, the lighting in both games is excellent, giving you a really clear understanding of whether you’re hidden or not even without the indicator on your guns. A nice addition is the use of the Light Bar on the DualShock 4. Similar to games like Thief, the Light Bar will shine much brighter when you’re in the light and visible to enemies giving another clear indicator to the player.

Surface travel requires a gas mask and filters which will need to be changed out periodically. This is another area where the developers paid some serious attention to detail. Radiation hotspots will kill you without your mask on and even when traveling underground you may come across some dangerous areas. Your mask can become covered in dirt, blood and other filth and a quick tap of the L2 button will wipe it off. If (or really when) your mask starts to get cracked during combat and such, you’ll need to switch it out quickly with another from a dead body if you can find one.

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The movement of your character in Last Light in particular as he walks, gets tossed around and has to stand up again is some of the best I’ve felt in a game. It can be disorienting at times but it actually feels “right”.

Even with all the good stuff, there are some minor problems. The character models can look a bit soft sometimes and in places it becomes clear that these games weren’t built from the ground up for the PlayStation 4. The screen tearing from the PS3 is gone and the shadowing is better but I did still experience the occasional clipping with other characters and enemies allowing me to see their inner polygons and hollow bodies, but this was a much more rare occurrence this time around.

Audio:
Music in the game is mostly atmospheric and works pretty well, giving you audio cues when you’ve been spotted as well as when you’ve dispatched all enemies in an area. There are also a lot of radios around in Last Light playing Russian rock music while we tend to see more record players in 2033 and an emphasis on Classical but it all adds nicely to the atmosphere of the games.

The voice acting is surprisingly excellent. I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect much in this area but a lot of work was put into each of the characters in both games and their dialogue is delivered with all the emotion and passion you’d expect in a high budget film. The one strong exception here however is the children. Voiced by adults, badly, the children come off as creepy and disturbing which tends to be another little thing that snaps you back to reality in a pair of games that otherwise seek total immersion.

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Online/Multiplayer:
These games are single player only.

Conclusion:
Metro Redux is definitely not for everybody. The games can be brutally tough depending on how you play since stealth is definitely rewarded over action. I’ve actually found 2033 to be a bit easier with more ammo available overall leading to more possibilities in attacking the levels. Story is king here and it’s a bit more thin in the first game than the second, it still works really well overall as a deep, engaging narrative. The message can get a bit preachy at times, especially near the end of Last Light, but you’re given a number of choices along the way that really let you make the story and character your own.

It then becomes a question of whether you want to buy just one or both of the games. If you already played through Metro: Last Light on the PS3 you could get by with just Metro 2033. I think the upgrades are significant enough though that the whole package may be the way to go. Personally, I like having the complete collection on one machine, but that’s just me.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

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  • Serc

    This was on pre-order for a decent price in the UK at amazon but they soon sold out, I’ll be getting this as soon as the hectic release schedule of the next 2-3 month is out the way so many games 🙁 so little time and money…

  • MrButters

    Hey, Josh! You’re absolutely right! The children’s voices are scarier than the monsters.

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