Head back to the tunnels in 4A's remastered version of Metro 2033
Metro 2033 was a refreshing blast of fetid tunnel air when it came out back in 2010, a well-paced survival shooter with a beautifully realised post-apocalyptic setting. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, though. Combat could be a bit wonky, with awkward stealth sections and a lack of satisfying feedback from your weaponry among the few unwelcome blemishes that stood out. Which might be why developer 4A has decided to go back and remaster the entire game with Metro 2033 Redux, reworking both gameplay and visuals in an attempt to provide the ultimate Metro experience.
The benefits of the upgrade to sequel Metro: Last Light's engine are immediately apparent. Graphics have been upgraded to 2014 standard, with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern title. Metro 2033 really benefits from the enhanced lighting and environmental effects, which make its grim, ramshackle world feel even more alive.
The reworked outdoor section feel like they're from a completely new game
Many of Metro 2033's smaller levels have been stitched together, or had new areas, often secret hidey-holes containing vital gear and bullets to trade, added in to make them feel more expansive and open. Aside from the fact that you won't be spending nearly as much time looking at loading screens, it's hard to pinpoint where these transitions occur. That's presumably the point. It makes for a better paced, less stop-start experience, and though there's no massive new zones to explore, gives veterans something new to look out for. Something that definitely is obvious is the impressive improvement in graphical fidelity in these outdoor locations.
The original Metro 2033 did a great job of bringing to life Russia's makeshift underground world, but technology limited what 4A could do to make the surface areas come to life. With the addition of environmental lighting, new weather effects and day night cycles, going upside is no longer a journey into a dull, grey corridor. Instead the irradiated overland feels alive, dangerous and bleakly beautiful. If your PC can handle Redux's tessellation options (a step too far for my rig) and 4K resolutions, the change is remarkable. Harsh light breaks through the clouds and reflects off snowy surfaces and discarded gear, while blast impacts splatter mud across your gas mask's visor – Metro 2033 Redux also comes with Last Light's immersive screen effects, which lends both exploration and brutal gunfights a greater sense of physicality.
That feeling of physicality now stretches to the shooting, which has benefited greatly from Last Light's superior impact physics and animations, as well as a more satisfyingly chunky selection of weapons. It's still a little less tight than the very best shooters; human enemies do react more naturally to bullet impacts, but it's often quite hard to tell whether you've struck one of the game's mutant enemies or not, in particular the swarming rat-like nosalises.
Expect a larger arsenal with the weapon attachment system from Last Light
Another area of combat that's been radically reworked is the stealth system. Lethal and non-lethal takedowns have been added, so you no longer have to rely on throwing knives or silenced weapons. Enemies are far more canny here than they were in the original version of Last Light, no longer letting you shuffle past them in seemingly plain sight. Like all stealth systems in every game ever, there are moments when the illusion fails, but this is the best version 4A have come up with. With the added bonus that there's no instant fail system – it might be a tough proposition, but going loud and violent is almost always an option.
Aside from stocking up on ammo and medkits you'll want to spend some of those military grade bullets on your weaponry. Like your revolver but wish it could deal with enemies at all ranges? Just bung on a scope, a stock and a foregrip and you've basically got a makeshift carbine. Think that shotgun's pretty hefty with two barrels? Try two more. Customising your gear always seemed to make sense in the scrappy, make-do world of the Metro, and it feels just as relevant here. You'll have your favourites, and there will be at least one weapon you'll come to rely on for most of the campaign. I'm reminded of the difference between this and something like Battlefield 4; in the former your weapon is a trusted ally, something that becomes an extension of your own will to survive. In the latter it's just another toy to play with.
Lighting is dramatically improved, lending an eerie, bleak quality to this intricately designed world
Two distinct game modes affect the way you play Metro 2033. Survival is closer to the original game's intent, a slower-paced, more challenging experience where ammunition and supplies are always scarce and you have to really scavenge to survive. Spartan mode favours the more action-orientated approach of Last Light, with faster animations, more bullets to find and generally a more traditional shooter feel. The differences are subtle but still noticeable. I'd say Survival is the purest way to approach Metro, but if you don't want to worry about preserving supplies and having to take an extra few seconds to reload while a rat-beast chews off your arms, Spartan is a nice alternative. You can combine both modes with the HUD-free Ranger Mode for an even trickier and more immersive experience.
METRO 2033 REDUX VERDICT
This is the finest available version of an excellent, atmospheric game. It’s still not perfect, but the Redux version irons out a significant number of weaknesses, adding some of Last Light’s improved mechanics while also providing a welcome layer of visual polish. If you’ve never experienced Metro 2033 before this is the version you should pick up, without question. Should players who’ve already played through and enjoyed the original buy it? I’d say there’s more than enough here to justify that purchase.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The subway entrance is just ahead, and you’ve only got one clip left. You leap past a swiping nosalise, hurtling down a flight of stairs and desperately blasting away at the onrushing horde with your last, precious bullets. Just as your gun runs dry, you slam through the reinforced door to safety.