Friday, 26 June 2015

Reduxing back to the Moscow Metro

Recently the Metro games on my PlayStation 4 were reduced on sale and so I jumped in and bought them in one pack. They are both the greatly enhanced Redux versions of the games. I will review them separately, but also give the package a summary.

Metro 2033 Redux

Platform tested: PlayStation 4

I reviewed Metro 2033 on the Xbox 360 way back in 2010. It was one of those games that I felt went over too quickly and left me, not disappointed, but wanting a little more. However it stuck with me as a great gaming memory and I have often looked back at some of it's claustrophobic and atmospheric moments down in the tunnels of the Moscow metro as being very unique and memorable.

Going back to 2033 in this Redux version has actually been a more positive experience than the first time around, even though I knew what was going to happen. What I have learned is that they have lifted the user interface and manues from Metro Last Night (which I have never played before the Redux version) and as such has given the gameplay a better flow and making inventory a more understandable affair. Managing weapons and ammo is simpler, and finding the equipment you need quickly easier. Such as the gas mask, filter swap and night vision goggles. These enhancements makes the gameplay far more enjoyable in stressing situations and are a nice upgrade to 2033.

The completely remade graphics and characters models brought over from the PC versions of Last Night, has lifted 2033 up to Last Night's PC graphical level, and as such the two games in this package look equally as good. It makes replaying 2033 Redux compared to last generations Xbox 360 version a significant and hugely enjoyable upgrade. The rock solid 60fps and 1080p graphics (that's 900p for Xbox One owners) makes the Redux version look and play like a completely new experience altogether. They haven't simply just ran the last generation game in higher resolution with a more fluid framerate, but completely redone all the textures and details, it's a complete remaster of very high quality.

For some strange reason I felt the ending of 2033 to be less abrupt than the first time I played it. Maybe I just took my time more during the playthrough this time. It's about soaking up some of that atmosphere and playing the game less aggressive than your typical shooter. I found I had much more money and ammo this time around as I took more time to scavenge bodies, rooms and dead ends. I believe I may have played it "wrong" the last time, much like any generic shooter game, which it really is not meant to be played.

Luckily the Redux version has an option to play it in it's original state; survival mode or spartan mode, the latter gives you much more ammo and focuses on being a more typical first person shooter. I really like that they give you this option, especially for people wanting a simpler playthrough. I do, however, strongly recommend survival mode; it's the way it was meant to be played, and sets it apart from other shooters. Just take your time and loot everything and you should be just fine! 

Metro 2033 offers a stealthy approach to the gameplay too, I found it slightly underplayed though. It's never really is introduced or reminded to the player as a worthy option, and often I ended up just fighting in large gunfights instead. This is why I have a feeling that 2033 feels a little less well portioned out as a game than what it could have been. The ideas are there, but they are just not clear to the player.

There are still some other issues that haven't been addressed in this version. While the AI has apparently been improved, I still find the creatures to be a little random in the way they run around and the enemy soldiers to be a little dumb. They simply aren't aggressive enough to attack you while in cover and as such I camped quite a bit during intense moments and waited for them to come along and be shot down by me. An option I really should not be allowed to do and forced to move out of.

The animation of the characters and their English voice overs are still bad. You can rectify some of this by switching to the Russian voices, though subtitles kills the immersion in my opinion and Germans speak Russian as well then. Speaking of the animations, it's kind of sad to see this visually pleasing game have such robotic and badly animated movements. It stands out even more than it did back in 2010.

All in all a great game, that I really recommend for people that enjoy a great post-apocalyptic setting and scary games. While it's not directly horror, it gives you a dark and chilling feeling throughout the game. The variation between fighting human soldiers and creatures is a welcome one that has been proven again and again to simply work in games, much like Half-Life and the first Far Cry. It forces the player to fight differently according to which enemies you face and takes you out of your comfort zone. 2033 may not be as well panned out in it's lifespan as the sequel and it can feel kind of short, but it really is worth playing before jumping on to the sequel.



    + Plus points

    • Fantastic atmosphere and post-apocalyptic depiction.
    • Intense fire fights in harsh conditions are really cool and memorable.
    • Creepy and dark at times, making you feel very vulnerable.

    - Minus points

    • Stiff animations and mediocre voice overs that really feel aged.
    • Although fitting for the setting, the environments are repetitive.
    • Stealth elements are a little sketchy and often not worth it.

    Metro Last Night Redux

    Platform tested: PlayStation 4

    My playthrough of Last Night is my first one as I did not purchase the sequel back on the last generation. Very quickly I gather that this game addresses a lot of the issues of the first game. For instance it lets you try out a few powerful weapons from the get go and has you followed by a helpful sniper on your first mission. Easing you into the combat heavily armed before taking your privileges away. It then proceeds to learn you about the stealth elements the game offers. The way it teaches properly to play the Metro game in a stealthy manner compared to the first game is a clever move to make more people play it as such.

    Last Night feels more tightly scripted storywise too, it has more memorable characters and personalities. The story, while not essentially not as shocking as the first game, is better presented and more dramatic visualised. This is further reflected in the largely different areas you battle in. The surroundings and the objectives you have are more memorable and distinct this time around and they do an excellent job of varying the gameplay consistently to keep the player engaged and entertained.

    Sure, this game can get a little repetitive at times like any other, but it feels less so than the first game. The environments you traverse, although all of them depict a ruined Moscow after the atomic war, have a lot of visual variety in them. I appreciate that they have accomplished this, considering the depressive setting the game visualizes. Just like the first game the whole story feels like a long travel through a city devastated by nuclear war. Last Night adds diversity to the world the first game created and shows you many new sides to how the humans have survived and live on underground. I really like the visually strong shift from dark to bright levels too.

    Both games in this Redux pack handle the same when it comes to gameplay, however Last Night has an edge on the amount of weapons and customization for them. In 2033 there didn't seem to be that many weapon types, in Last night there's a better selection. Especially some of the more powerful sniper rifles are a nice welcome and a handy companion on the more open areas of the surface. Just like the first game there's a variety in weaponry that suits the game style you wish to play, be it guns blazing or stealthy kills with suppressors, air pressure or arrow weapons.

    Last Night may follow 2033 very close and it might just offer even more for the fans enjoyed in the first game, but it packages it up even better and as a game it's a stronger build and more consistent in gameplay quality than 2033. Though if you disliked 2033, I doubt you'll find this game any more appealing. Like I said earlier the story is presented better, but maybe lacks the wow effect only the first game can deliver as it introduced us to the whole setting and story of the Metro universe.

    As such both games work together extremely well. If there's a thing 2033 has an edge on it's the more creepy and scary feeling. It was more common to encounter I felt in 2033, while it very seldom does in Last Night.

    With it's longer lifespan, gameplay variation and better learning curve, Last Night really nails what this franchise is about in one game. I would still recommend playing the first game as it feels a little darker and spookier and a plot that really builds the fundaments of the whole scenario that this game continues, and is a fine introduction to this game. But judging for what medium this is, a video game, Last Night is the better one of the two.



      + Plus points

      • A more polished game with better layout and variation than 2033.
      • More varied tasks, areas and gunfights, more open outdoor areas.
      • A longer game, with a more gradual lifespan.

      - Minus points

      • Does repeat itself and the first games scenarios a little.
      • Once again the animations and voiceovers feel archaic.
      • If you didn't like the first game, well there's nothing to really pull you in here.


      All in all these remasters are fantastic. The developer's technical achievement of completely revamping the graphics and running them in a rock solid 60fps framerate is noteworthy and overshadowed by more popular remasters. The fact that they pulled the first game up to the standards of the sequels PC counterpart and revamped the user inteface is something I really appreciate and it levels out the difference between the two games.

      The Metro games are somewhat unique in an otherwise very crowded genre and their atmosphere is excellent. They excel in the lighting department and depict some very memorable dark scenes with sunlight and flashlights lighting up foggy, dust particled air and casting incredible shadows everywhere. Buying the Metro Redux package with both games is real value for money and warmly recommended.



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