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Metro Redux hands-on: Nuclear winter has never looked so appealing

Hayden Dingman | June 2, 2014
Metro 2033, rough as it is around the edges, is one of my favorite games of all time. Metro: Last Light is also a darn fine game. Despite some odd story quirks, both games ooze atmosphere. "Immersion" is an oft-bandied term that has become progressively meaningless, but few other shooters would urge you to stop and watch a fifteen-minute vaudeville act in the middle of the story. Few games would employ a system where your most powerful bullets are also currency, forcing you to make a choice between stopping power and wealth.

On a downtown train

4A Games also listened to the complaints of Metro 2033 fans that Last Light skewed too much towards the Commando side of the spectrum in comparison to 2033's more stealth-based mechanics. Redux includes two play modes for each game — Survival and Spartan. Survival Mode is more like 2033 — bullets and other supplies are hard to come by, and you'll have to scrounge to make it through. Spartan is akin to Last Light — go in guns blazing and you'll probably be fine. You can play 2033 in Spartan Mode and vice versa.

Unfortunately it sounds like combat encounters won't be rebalanced for these modes. I asked an on-hand member of the team whether sequences like the interminable "Defend this point!" sections in Last Light would be at all overhauled to work better with Survival Mode and was met with a "Yeah, that'll probably be a lot harder." Or, in other words, no, they won't be overhauled.

Another small bone to pick: 4A will not be changing the way quick-time events are handled in Ranger Mode. If you don't know, Ranger Mode was an incredibly popular optional mode for Metro 2033 that became downloadable content in Last Light. In effect, Ranger Mode made guns more powerful, people more fragile, and removed the HUD from the screen.

Unfortunately, quick-time events are counted as "HUD elements." Thus, when playing on Ranger Mode you don't even necessarily know a quick-time event is happening, let alone what key you need to press to progress. It's incredibly frustrating, but 4A stands by their decision, recommending you play through the campaign with the HUD on before attempting Ranger Mode. I don't think they're wrong, in this case, but it's an annoyance when you die in what looks like a cutscene.

I didn't get to check out whether they'd fixed the other problems with Last Light's Ranger Mode — namely, that you have no idea the total amount of air filter time you have left, and that selecting secondary weapons is basically impossible because it's done on an invisible HUD instead of scrolled through with the rest of your armaments. These are also high on the priority list when we get a review copy.

Bottom line

It's Metro, for better and for worse. There are some other small changes; you can now wipe dust and blood off your gas mask in 2033, for instance. If you liked Metro 2033 and Last Light, well, you already own them. I'm not sure whether this will be enough to make you repurchase, though I'm excited by Spartan/Survival Mode and the prospect of some 2033 levels getting combined into one enormous zone instead of being broken up with loading screens.

 

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