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Metro Redux review: The definitive way to play Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 20, 2014
For a few moments when I loaded up Metro 2033 Redux I had one of those "Hm, I don't think anything has really changed" reactions. It's been about two years since I last played Metro 2033, and I remembered it looking...well, basically the same as the Redux version looks. Metro 2033 was gorgeous when it came out, so this didn't really surprise me.

However, there are a ton of smaller changes too. Lighting is given a lot more room to stretch in 2033 Redux. The original 2033 was very bleak and built its indoor environments well, but everything was lit rather flat when compared to Last Light. I know — I didn't believe it either when I first started writing this review. Take a look at these screenshots though:

Side-by-side, there's no doubt that 2033 Redux has more dynamic lighting and a greater focus on contrast. By no means does 2033 look bad, but it has an oddly flat, bright look to it in retrospect that doesn't do justice to the dank subway setting.

There are also basic texture and geometry differences, of course:

It's all well-and-good, with a few exceptions. For some reason, 2033 Redux seems to massively cut back on particle effects, which were the most impressive part of the original. Many areas that used to feature snow or smoke now are empty, and I don't know why. For instance, notice the snow in the original's opening scene versus the bland, empty skyline in Redux:

Or the way light refracts off the snow in the original's doorway versus the flattened look of 2033 Redux here:

These are key examples I found within the first hour of the game, and they're a noticeable downgrade as far as I'm concerned.

And as I said, Last Light gets almost no visual bump at all. Here are screens from the two so you can see the similarities:

The changes are minor at best, such as the way this sign is illuminated in Last Light Redux:

This is Sparta

As for Spartan and Survival Mode, the gas mask wipe, and the rest of the feature changes in 2033 and Last Light Redux, some are great and some are middling, but nothing felt objectively worse than the original versions.

I'm not sure Survival Mode really makes sense. Spartan Mode in 2033 is totally fine — you're given more ammo, (presumably) more health, and it generally makes the game a bit easier. I don't know many 2033 diehards (like myself) who will ever want to play 2033 Redux in Spartan Mode, but fans of Last Light who found 2033 punishingly difficult will appreciate the change I'm sure.

But Last Light in Survival Mode is just kind of clunky. The game was designed as a run-and-gun shooter, and just because you give me less ammo doesn't make it any less of a Michael Bay-esque affair. The complaints about Last Light were, as far as I'm aware, that it took the bleak and oppressive, under-staffed and under-equipped world of 2033 and turned it into a fast-paced, superhuman shooter. In other words, the Dead Space to Dead Space 2 predicament.

 

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