When it comes to re-releasing older titles on a new platform, there are a number of ways a publisher and developer can go about it. They can just put the game out as it was and drop the price. Alternatively, they can bundle in a load of DLC and call it a “definitive” version. Failing that, they can tweak the graphics and improve frame rates and resolutions if they so wish. What seems to be less common though, is to actually think about what your audience wants and to try entice them in with a genuinely improved title.
So, instant kudos should be given to 4A Games for attempting to go a little bit further than they realistically had to. With Metro Redux, they’ve provided two full games – Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light - for the price of one full retail title, or for roughly the same price as a top-priced digital title if you want either game on its own. Not only that, but they’ve polished up the visuals, converted both games to run on their most modern engine, and added a bunch of new ways to play so no matter which of the two approaches you preferred originally, you can play in your favourite manner all the way through. Make no mistake, the two games are still inherently separate. When you load up Metro Redux, you’re asked which of the games you want to play and have to exit out of the whole package if you – for some reason – should wish to switch between the two.
Set a few decades after a nuclear attack on Moscow, where the survivors have retreated underground and are using the titular Metro stations and tunnels to escape the fallout, both games see you play as Artyom, a man on a mission to ultimately protect those survivors from what lurks above. Although the stories of each game remain the same as they always were, the new “Spartan” and “Survival” modes mean that you can change the entire experience, or essentially even multiply the games to provide more playing time. Playing in Spartan gives you a more action-orientated experience with ammo and consumables in plentiful supply, whereas playing in Survival mode, your supplies are much more limited, meaning that you have to be a great deal more careful. The difference between the two is night and day, and this means that you could genuinely play through both games in Spartan mode, then switch to Survival and play through both games again and have an entirely different (but equally as rewarding) experience in terms of gameplay. When you add the ability to play both games in “Ranger” and “Ranger Hardcore” modes, which increase the difficulty and remove the HUD and help notes respectively, you’ve got a package that can be configured to suit pretty much exactly how you want to play, and which offers a great deal of replayability.
While some of the issues that both games originally contained have been dealt with, there are still little annoyances here and there. When you first make it to the surface in Metro 2033 for example, you get an overwhelming feeling of being released into the world. You’re out of the cramped and claustrophobia-inducing tunnels of the Metro, and want to go wherever you want to. Then you jarringly happen upon a wall of snow-covered logs that you can’t climb over, or a two-foot high step that you really should be able to just step up on to, but can’t. There are also a few pacing issues to be found. In a massively atmospheric game that draws you in really well, it can be quite disappointing to find that you’re staring at yet another loading screen just minutes after the last one disappeared. Fortunately, the frankly awful stealth combat that plagued the original release of Metro 2033 has been given an overhaul, so you’ll no longer be frustrated with it to the point of giving up. Enemies no longer have x-ray vision, and you can use Last Light's stealth takedowns now, so you can actually be stealthy without your attempts being utterly pointless.
Last Light didn’t suffer from a lot of the problems that Metro 2033 had anyway, and was by far the better of the two games even before being remastered and tweaked. Fortunately, the improvements found in Metro Redux have done nothing but increase the amount of atmosphere that the game possesses and that is absolutely to the developer’s credit. We’d go as far as saying that Metro: Last Light is one of the most atmospheric titles that you can get your hands on today and if you fancy a real challenge, playing in Survival style on Ranger Hardcore difficulty is absolutely incomparable. You’ll swear, you’ll sweat, and you’ll hold your breath as you wander around corners, hoping that the one or two bullets that you have left in your gun will be enough to get you through to the next point, or that the three minutes of protection that you have left in your lone remaining gas mask filter will hold you until you get to safety. We found ourselves - admittedly ridiculously - scared to press the left bumper button to wipe the blood from our gas masks, just in case the wiping sound alerted any nearby beasties. At times, it really is a truly breathtaking experience and one that really should be tried by any FPS fans.
There’s no doubt that Metro Redux represents real value for money. Neither game is perfect and Metro 2033 does show signs of aging, despite the improvements, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an entirely playable game which serves as a sort of hors d'oeuvre to Last Light’s main course. And that’s a main course that is easily worth the asking price all on its own. Individually, the games would probably pick up a seven and a nine respectively so an eight seems fair, here. Of course, they are available to purchase separately if you’re taking the digital route…