Metro Redux is an interesting concept from the very beginning: A visually enhanced remake of an older game that brings it up to the same graphical fidelity of its younger brother, unlocks all of its previous DLC and adds in new game mechanics. It’s definitely an upgrade, but it’s a bit of a hard sell to those who have already played through both of the series’ revered titles.
Metro Redux is actually two separate games — Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, respectively — retooled and given slight upgrades. They do come bundled together, but you can also pick them up separately if you’re a PC gamer. For the sake of convenience on our part and to keep you from reading two full reviews of older games (or even doing the scumbag journalistic move of separating them into two different pieces themselves), we’re going to review the entire bundle together.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Metro series, the games thrust you into a post-apocalyptic version of Russia where you play as Artyom, one of the young survivors living in an abandoned metro system. The surface has become overrun with animals mutated to the point of becoming monsters, and the very air has grown sick from radiation. The metro system itself is surviving a political chess match as multiple factions are all jostling for control of the bustling underground. Artyom, in typical video game style, finds himself the keystone in the movement to secure and protect the lives of everyone he has ever known.
Right off the bat, the most noticeable improvement is that both games have been brought to an upgraded engine, with Metro 2033 having benefited the most from this upgrade. Now, its dated visuals look perfectly in sync with Metro: Last Light. Character models have been completely revamped, full-body player animations have made the leap (allowing for more immersion as you climb a ledge or swing into a turret), and countless small tweaks give a fresh breath of air to a title that hadn’t aged all that well.
Metro: Last Light did get a few benefits of the upgrade as well, although they’re nowhere near as obvious. The one should stand out is how well both games have been optimized on the new engine. Running the original Metro at 4K resolution on PC was taxing to say the least. Even top of the line rigs, like the one we use for the majority of our PC reviews, were brought down to a crawl during firefights replaying Last Light, dropping as far as single digit frame rates. Last Light Redux is still a very demanding title, however, it was possible to get 60 FPS at 4k resolution and very high settings without AA with drops down to 30. 30 FPS is nowhere near ideal, but considering just how taxing 4K can be, you can color us impressed.
The only downside to the upgraded visuals running at 4K is that character faces don’t seem to be attached to the model in a realistic way. It’s only really noticeable when they speak, and while it’s not cartoonish or a major issue, it becomes a bit off-putting at times and borders on being creepy. The best way to describe it is that it almost looks like they’re wearing rubber face masks.
One of the “flaws” in the series was how different each of the games played out. Metro 2033 was a survival horror game masquerading as a standard FPS. Ammo was in short supply and running through the game with guns blazing was a sure way to die a horrible death. Metro: Last Light abandoned this mentality and offered a more standard FPS experience, which left a lot of fans unhappy.
In Metro Redux, you’re able to choose exactly which type of play style you want to have. Survival mode allows you to play either game in that tense and stressful fight to stay alive, while Spartan mode allows players to blaze their paths to glory. To be honest, Spartan mode kills a lot of what made Metro so special in my eyes and was one of the major issues I had with Last Light, though options are always a good thing. If this opens up the franchise to new gamers and creates fans out of them, then all the better.
In addition to the main games, all of the DLC comes attached to Metro Redux. While the actual DLC missions for Last Light weren’t anything we were willing to recommend, for some God-forsaken reason Ranger Mode was hidden behind a DLC paywall. This was a horrible decision at the time (especially considering that it was marketed as the “correct” way to play the game), but now it’s finally available from the get go, just as it should have been.
The best thing about Metro Redux isn’t something you’ll find advertised on a box. Metro Redux is a stable game, something I wasn’t able to say of Last Light or even 2033. Now, it bares mentioning that the We Got This Covered PC rig here is a monster, featuring an overclocked i7 4770k processor, a 295×2 GPU and 24 GB of ram built specifically to max out games at 4k (or as close as possible at this current point), so this isn’t your standard machine. Still, we suffered almost zero problems running the game. In fact, the only problem we ran into was how hot the system ran, even requiring a shut down to keep the CPU from getting much hotter. I want to stand up and say “Thank you” to 4A games for not only creating a game that ran damn near flawlessly, but also an excuse to use water cooling my system as a tax write off.
Metro Redux’s only real issue is that it’s hard to sell to people who have already played through the two games in the past. I can easily recommend it to fans of Metro 2033 who want to see how it looks with a facelift, and the ability to play Metro: Last Light with what I see as the “proper” survival experience is enough for me to go back and play through it again. For those of you who have already played through and thought the games were just alright, there’s probably not enough hear to win you over, but for if you’re brand new to the franchise, this is the best way to experience it.
This review is based on the PC version of the game given to us for review purposes.
Metro Redux is a perfect launching point for newcomers, while returning fans will love seeing how well the games have been remastered.