When I was in London, I got around using the famous Underground subway system that tunnels throughout the city. It’s fun to experience in short bursts, but it’s not an environment in which I’d love to spend a lot of time. In Metro, you don’t have a choice. The world’s surface is a radioactive wasteland, forcing Russian survivors underground into the Metro system. It’s this bleak, desolate atmosphere that made the Metro franchise so captivating, and Redux makes it a joy to experience again.
Metro: Redux bundles two of the most unique shooters into one package. Metro 2033 was a different kind of first-person experience when it first launched: tough as nails and heavily narrative focused, wrapped up in a setting just dripping with every post-apocalyptic theme you could think of. It also, for a change, wasn’t set in America, taking place in the maze of Moscow metro lines. The subsequent sequel, Last Light, felt far more open and explored life on the surface a lot more. Last Light was also markedly easier than 2033, although the Ranger DLC definitely took that to the other extreme.
Redux finds a balance between these two. There’s still the extremely brutal (bordering on unfair) Ranger mode, which strips the HUD and makes mask filters more rare than Scotland’s national animal. This is for the hardened Metro veterans who want to really stretch their Metro experience, owed to the fact that you’ll be respawning timelessly. Survival is more akin to the original 2033 experience. Supplies are extremely limited and the HUD is stripped down marginally, without diving into the harsh gameplay that Ranger forces on to you. Spartan mode is a lot like Last Light, in the sense that bountiful supplies allow you to play both Metro titles in a more “run and gun” fashion.
These three distinct modes allow you to fine tune your experience across the two games, which is the first major difference Redux offers. I booted up In Survival mode, using the normal difficulty to keep enemies slightly fair in the face of my handicap. Playing without crosshairs and the ability to check my ammo definitely added to the tension – there’s nothing scarier than hearing an empty click from your shotgun while a massive mutant sprints towards you. It really felt like the way Metro was meant to be experienced, although now I didn’t have to fight with some of the game’s previously flawed systems.
That’s where Metro 2033 has been given most of the attention. Survival and Ranger modes depend heavily on stealth, which was extremely broken when the game first released. Redux strips out the old stealth and AI and replaces it with an improved Last Light system, which makes the overall experience much better (and functional). You can now easily take down unaware foes, with nicely placed musical shifts letting you know when you’re in range. Enemies also react far more realistically this time around, which allows you to take down entire outposts if you’re sly enough. Stealth is now a proper, viable play style in 2033, and it elevates the entire experience to Last Light’s heights.
The same can’t really be said for Last Light. It’s still the engrossing, captivating game that you might have played two years ago, but that’s about it. Aside from some included DLC and the addition of the new difficulty setting, Last Light’s gameplay is pretty much untouched. That doesn’t really surprise me considering most of the changes present in 2033 were put in place to make it play like Last Light. There simply isn’t anything new to add to the relatively young title, aside from a bump in the visuals.
Both games, however, still suffer from some of their most notable pitfalls. While 2033 prides itself in being an intense, hardcore experience, it sometimes borders on the unfair. Mutants will still attack you in massive packs that seem particularly over powered, forcing you to blindly fire and pray to a deity of your choice that you don’t empty your clips. This is particularly bad near the end of the game, and I can’t imagine playing through certain segments with Ranger mode enabled. Last Light mends this, although some boss fights still feel like a chore and a little out of place in a game with this type of atmosphere.
You’ll also start pulling your hair out after a few hours of the comically bad voice acting with terribly forced Russian accents. It doesn’t help either that the same actor, particularly in 2033, was used for so many different characters. It’s a little jarring to have a companion die, only to hear his voice coming from another face at the next station stop.
Metro 2033 has been reworked beautifully, with the game now running in the latest version of the 4A Engine. This puts the aged title on par with Last Light in terms of visual sharpness, and the effect is quite spectacular. The Metro, which is where you spend most of your time, is a thing of gloomy beauty. Lighting is superb, which made Last Light stand out when it launched. Last Light also benefits slightly from a visual upgrade, although it would be difficult to see a major difference. Both games now run at a rock solid 60FPS on both PS4 and Xbox One, although the latter only manages to push it out at 920p. That said, I couldn’t tell a difference.
Last Updated: October 7, 2014