This month, 4A Games released a double-pack of goodness with a remastered version of their 2010 release, Metro 2033 and 2013’s Metro: Last Light. Based on the novel series by Dmitri Glukhovski, the games take place in the Russian underground metro system, twenty years after the bombs fell and threw the world into a great apocalypse.
Touching up old games is certainly not a new practice, but it is one that gamers don’t see all too often. The original Halo and The Last of Us come to mind as some of the more recent games to get a face lift, and the next gen consoles open up a whole new world to what may be possible with this trend.
But is it worth the $49 price tag for two games, one of which came out a little over a year ago? Absolutely.
Anyone that played the original 2033 knows that ambitious as it was; The developers may have bitten off more than they could chew. The environments and visuals were stunning for the time, but added gameplay mechanics such as: manually charging your headlamp, pumping pneumatic guns, and swapping out air filters would sometimes bog up the flow or possibly not work at all. Despite rave reviews, the AI was consistently rated as laughable, with enemies staring right at you with their lights in your face without moving, or simply crouching into a corner and not moving.
Metro: Last Light fared a little better, beefing up the visuals again as well as AI, though not perfectly, but I applauded the effort.
On to the remake: 4A flipped everything on its head. It is the exact same game, though they could not be more different in playability. The visuals and lighting are absolutely stunning, especially in a game full of dark, wet, tunnels and glowing radioactive mushrooms with a skeleton of Moscow on the surface; environment to set the mood is everything.
I could actually make an argument that Metro tries to be the survival horror game with the most successful FPS engine in recent memory, and I think many would agree. The sounds in Metro, from banging pipes to claws across the walls and floor as well as the howls of the Watchmen, I haven’t felt as helpless in a game in a long time, even with my character holding a gun. Seriously, don’t get me started on the Librarians.
Thinking of it as an FPS, both games are a breath of fresh air to fans. The guns are mostly made to look like they were assembled in the Metro after the war with parts that they had laying around, and they succeeded. An SMG that overheats, a pneumatic gun that you pump like a Red Ryder BB Gun and shoot ball bearings for a silent approach, and a six barreled shotgun, built from bike gears and tubes. All of them were unique and extremely fun to use and figure out what works best for what situation.
Currency in the game is actually the thing you waste the most: ammo. Well, a specific military-grade ammunition that is not loaded by default, but ammo nonetheless. You can spend these bullets on basic ammunition, upgrades for your armory, as well as grenades, throwing knives and more filters. However, if you find yourself backed into a corner with no more ammo, you can choose to load your gun with these military rounds to fill up with a little extra firepower. Choices like this within the game make for some tense combat. Do I try and make it through with what I have, or basically kill everything around me with my only currency?
Not everything is perfect in the tunnels, however. The voice acting is on par, nothing spectacular but it feels natural. However, it all sounds like the same person. There is little variation between the male NPC’s. And be prepared to hear a LOT of Russian accents.
The station can be cramped with not much to explore, and there are NPC’s blocking the way you’re not supposed to go, basically bottlenecking you to your objective in the safety of the makeshift cities when you want to explore gets a little old. Especially when out in the open tunnels or on the surface, your compass is of little help most of the time when some obvious paths are blocked.
The enemy AI is still not perfect, but your damage threshold quickly punishes you for taking the difficulty for granted. The games now come with Spartan mode, a faster paced version for people not looking for a nightmare challenge and just want to play the game. There’s also Ranger mode, which is harder and has the option for a hardcore mode that takes away every shred of HUD, including your ammo counter, which forces you to rely on checking your clips through the cutaway magazines.
To wrap this up, for 50 bucks, I could not have been happier. With some games shying away from doing a next gen release so soon (looking at you, Borderlands), things like this are nice to keep our new consoles a little more relevant before the releases coming this holiday season. From someone who gave up on these games the first time around due to the bugs and bad lighting, I could not put them down this time. They may not be perfect, but they contain an immersive story, cutscene quality gamplay, and one of the coolest environments in the genre. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who never played these underrated hits, or just couldn’t power through the first time. It is worth picking up!