Wot I Think: Metro Redux

By Christopher Livingston on August 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Many Artyoms died to bring us this screenshot.

The beautifully bleak first-person shooters Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light have both been retooled and are being resold: a bit weird since the latter only came out last year. Is Metro Redux worth the dough if you already own the original games? How about if you don’t? How about if, like me, you own one but not the other? Well, here’s whut ah thank, y’all! (Note: I’m an American. We all talk like that.)

Quick recap? Metro 2033 and its follow-up, Metro: Last Light are both first-person shooters set in the mutant and monster-filled metro system of post-apocalyptic Moscow. The original game was billed as survival horror, while Last Light was more of an action shooter, and both were praised for strong atmosphere and a visually rich setting which helped offset problems like lackluster A.I. and strictly-linear mission design. You can read what Alec thought of 2033 and what Jim thought of Last Light.

Full disclosure: I only half-finished the original Metro 2033 and I’m only three-quarters finished with the Redux version. Additionally, I never played the original Last Light, and I’m only about halfway through the reissue.

Except for the fact that the air is poison, it's a lovely day.

Considering that the remastered version of Metro: Last Light, in developer 4A’s own words, “does not represent as significant a change over the original,” we should probably begin with a look at Metro 2033 Redux, which does. 2033 has been rebuilt using Last Light’s game engine and retrofitted with a number of LL’s features.

I have a great idea. Let's go back and forget this.

Most notably, the stealth in 2033 Redux is now blessedly stealthier. Just because one enemy detects evidence of your skulking doesn’t mean every single one of them will psychically know where to pinpoint you from then on. Even after blowing a stealth run, you have a chance to melt back into the shadows and reposition, or quickly neutralize the enemies who spotted you before they can alert the others. It makes for more satisfying sneaking and the A.I. is both better and more forgiving.

Let's see how Khan looks after his Metro Makeover!

I booted up the original 2033 this week and found it still looks plenty good: not surprising since it’s only four years old. Still, the Redux version looks noticeably better in terms of models, textures, details, and lighting. It really looks fantastic. The NPCs appear much more alive than they originally did, too, though you’ll occasionally come across a distractingly weird one with too-bulgy eyes and a rubbery face.

The ones in the masks look just fine.

2033′s cutscenes are now all presented in the first-person perspective, which is a welcome addition, and the menus, inventory, and many of the game’s animations have been upgraded as well. Essentially, Redux creates a more uniform experience across both games by overhauling 2033 to match Last Light. Instead of original and sequel, it now feels like they’re two different parts of the same game.

With this bullet-rich economy, I can't afford NOT to shoot!

You can play both Redux games in a couple of different modes. There’s a survival mode, which makes ammo and mask filters more scarce (if, for example, you want to bring the original grueling 2033 experience into Last Light) and a spartan mode, where you’ll have plenty of ammo for a more action-packed experience (if you want to bring Last Light’s extra-shooty feel with you into 2033). Beyond that, there’s also Normal, Hardcore, Ranger, and Ranger Hardcore, which give you varying degrees of difficulty by minimizing (or removing) HUD elements and providing more realistic weapon damage for both you and the people shooting back.

Yeah yeah yeah, can I please go SHOOT something now?

Since Last Light only came out last year, there’s not much in the way of changes for this new edition, other than some small improvements to the engine, some new animations, and the game’s DLC bundled alongside. So, what essentially sounds like a patch for Last Light is being treated as a new game, sales-wise, for reasons the developers describe as “technical.” There are discounts, at least: if you own 2033 on Steam you’ll get half-off the Redux version and 25% off the bundle; likewise for Last Light. If you own both already, you get 50% the bundle.

Come on buddy. You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

Is it worth it? Well, if you enjoyed Metro 2033, I strongly suspect you’ll like it even more on the new engine, especially since the options for a grueling, hardcore experience are still there despite the revamped stealth and improved AI making things a little easier for you. Even if you enjoyed Last Light, however, I’m doubtful you’ll notice much in the way of changes in the Redux version. If you’ve never played either game but are suddenly keen to… I’m not sure what to suggest, actually. The originals are cheaper and still perfectly playable, but I’d probably go for the Redux. They’re prettier. Call me superficial, but I think looks are worth a few extra bucks.

When stealth goes wrong... well, it's still fun.

If you didn’t think much of the games initially, there may not be enough in Redux that will change your mind. Stealth is better in 2033 Redux, definitely, but stealth isn’t an option when you’re forced to stand your ground against swarm after swarm of identical mutants. Lame turret sequences may look a bit nicer, but they’re still lame turret sequences. All the graphical improvements in the world won’t improve the experience of carrying an annoying, weird-voiced child around on your back as he points out monsters and holes far too late to help you avoid them. And, the brief and beautiful outdoor excursions, while more beautiful, are still just as brief, which is far too brief. There are some things even the nicest paint job can’t fix.

Because it worked so well the first time?

Both Redux games are running very well for me on my still-hangin’ in there PC (i7 2.8GHz, Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti) with the settings almost cranked up all the way. 2033 Redux crashed once — immediately, the very first time I tried running it — but it’s been smooth, responsive, bug-free sailing since, in both games.

What was I doing again? Oh, right, fleeing for my life from murderous communists. Right.

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43 Comments »

  1. DanMan says:

    It’s a bit disappointing that the Redux versions don’t come in Linux flavour, whereas the original Last Light does. Any plans there?

    • mvar says:

      They’ve stated that linux versions will be available later around October, personally I’ve never played the 2033 so i’ll wait till then to buy the redux version. For LL i think the best deal was during this week where they offered the full pack for 5euro.

    • Keyrock says:

      Linux is coming soon for both games. I never owned either one, though I have played a small bit of LL at a friend’s house. What I did is buy both original games when they were on sale dirt cheap during a Steam sale, I think it cost me $10 total. Then I was able to get the 50% discount on the Redux versions saving me $25. So I spent $10 to save $25, net savings = $15 :D

      Now I just wait for the Linux versions to arrive.

      • DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Metro 2033 was in a Humble Bundle not long ago. At least I am pretty sure that is why I have it and got the Redux for only $15.

  2. Premium User Badge

    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I’m really only interested in Metro 2033 Redux. I like the improvements that I’ve read about, especially cut-scenes playing in first-person — it seems like such a minor thing, but having no break in immersion is one of my favorite things in first-person games.

    Edit: Chris, they let you out on non-Monday’s? :-)

  3. Skiddywinks says:

    Never played LL either, so the Redux bundle is a bit of a no-brainer really.

    In fact, I literally just pre-ordered it (just got home from work on pay day), and lo and behold, a WIT.

  4. MykulJaxin says:

    Agh. That first image?! The tension is too much! A little more to the left, a little more!!!

  5. Jason Moyer says:

    My only real questions about this are a.) have they optimized the engine whatsoever and b.) can you adjust the FOV.

    • Chris Livingston says:

      Just loaded it up and checked — no FOV options, unless you can alter it from a config file or something.

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      J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      Based on what I’ve read, they’ve basically ported 2033 to Last Light’s engine (with some tweaking). For me personally, 2033 runs terribly, but I have no problem whatsoever with Last Light, so I’m hopeful my rig will do much better with the 2033 Redux.

    • Sharza says:

      I’d guess you’d be able to do it via a config file at least. It was possible with the original 2033 and with Last Light as well. Since it’s basically Last Light’s engine, I’m assuming you’ll have similar options. It’s probably best to wait until news about this spreads and my assumptions are confiremd.

      Or someone is nice enough to follow these steps and see if it is possible to change the fov once it’s been released:

      1. Start up the game at least once to get the file to appear.

      2. Head into your %LOCALAPPDATA%4A GamesMetro LL directory and open a file called user.cfg in a text editor (should be a similarly named folder for redux)

      3. There, you should find a line called r_base_fov. By default, it will read something like:

      r_base_fov 50.625

      That’s vertical fov btw – 59-60, depending on your resolution is a horizontal fov of 90.

      4. Change it, load up the game and report back please.

      Edit: clarification of statements :)

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Nice idea, that totally make sense and it might just work.

        Let’s hope for no FOV related glitches. Did the original LL have any problem like that?

        • gdotkim says:

          With Last Light there was the occasional graphical glitch in first person cut scenes, as they were all made for the default fov, but nothing game breaking.

  6. darkshadow42 says:

    That kid! When I first saw him i was terrified it was going to be one of those terrible escort missions, but they did a great job, all escort mission should involve you piggybacking the incompetent person.

  7. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I might have to get 2033 Redux. I stopped playing the original because I couldn’t stand the stealth mechanics. I played the PS3 version of Last Light twice (once normal, once Ranger) so I don’t think another playthrough is required here.

    Last Last was good but it gets a little too pre-rendered at times. Like when you fall in the water, it just plays an animation and sometimes a mutated shrimp eats you.

    I have read Metro: 2033 which is not very well written (“And these sounds were really terrifying.”), but that might just be the translation. On the other hand it is very entertaining and it had me pretty hooked near the end.

    Does it let you save at any point now or is still only checkpoints?

    You and I also have the same video card Chris. Although mine is a 3GB so clearly my balls are just a little bit bigger for now.

    • Chris Livingston says:

      Ach! I had a note to mention the checkpoints but I forgot. There are still checkpoint saves. Some are pretty bad. But even the good ones, you know, not as good as letting me save my own game when I want.

    • Niko says:

      Metro: 2033 is not very well written originally, so it’s not the translation.

  8. Rolento says:

    This comes out and I have yet to even start Metro LL…….. backlog problems…..

  9. Premium User Badge

    Hammer says:

    £8 for better stealth mechanics in just Frontline seems almost worth it…

  10. OddsAgainst says:

    I hope they fixed Ranger mode for LL, as it was maddening to play. You had to figure out what button was for quicktime events quick, as well as when there was a quicktime event happening, as the game sure as hell wasn’t going to tell you. You also better learn how to recognise the different throwables by their near-imperceptible sound bytes that play when you mouse over them in the switching display that you can’t see. And count the magazines you pick up, because once they disappear into the depths of your ruck you can never tell roughly how much ammo you have left until you’re out.

    I get that Ranger mode is meant to remove all UI, but it was just ridiculous in LL. I seem to recall 2033′s Ranger mode was better, that you could at least check what was in your inventory.

    • Fenixp says:

      I’ve bought LL recently and am playing it right now on ranger mode. Dunno about previously, but inventory works and shows you everything aside from total ammo count (which is still stupid, just want to point that out), QTE prompts are there as well. They could be a bit more visible tho, it’s just a white ‘E’ which does not appear in the middle of the screen, sadly.

    • sqparadox says:

      I read elsewhere that Ranger mode has been fixed for LL (you can see your ammo) but that Ranger Hardcore mode has not been fixed (still no HUD at all, no prompt for QTE’s). I’m surprised this isn’t included in the review as it is what convinced me to buy LL redux, but my guess is that’s because Chris never played LL before and thus has not experienced this frustration first hand.

      • Danielmiles says:

        You don’t have HUD in hardcore mode. That’s point of it being hardcore, you have no idea how many magazines or rounds you have left, that’s what makes it hardcore.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          But you can literally see your ammo anyway. Metro weapons were always designed that you can physically look at the bullets on the weapon, either by eyeballing the transparent magazine or seeing rounds mounted on the body of the weapon. In metro 2033, I rarely looked at the number of bullets on my HUD anyway because this physical way of doing it is so much better.

          • Danielmiles says:

            Oh yeah I see what you mean I didn’t think of that, thanks for clearing that up. Can’t wait to play the redux version, I really love the story line and the overall atmosphere on these games. More so the first one than last light. Both really good games though.

          • Fenixp says:

            Nuh-uh, not so in Last Light. Vast majority of assault rifle magazines get covered by attachments, so you don’t see shit – that’s why I kept using the assault rifle with the magazine on top + shotgun. And for some reason Artyom is unable to take a quick peek into his backpack to see how many magazines he’s got left..

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            It still doesn’t fix the original problem of not having ANY way to look at your chest, or something. True, in real life you don’t have a digital counter inside your head, but at least you can check your body/rucksacks for how many magazines you have left.

            Same goes for the QTE prompt: if you don’t even want to show me which key i have to press ( a keyboard has quite many of them ), then just disable QTEs in ranger mode. I’m sure that’d make a lot of people happy anyway.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Using attachments? In hardcore mode? To make it EASIER? Tut.

            Nah I dunno. I only played the first 10 mins of LL anyway and then got bored. But yeah in 2033 you could visually search corpses for ammo etc. Would have been good to be able to do the same to yourself.

        • sqparadox says:

          It’s been quite a long time since I played LL so I can’t remember well enough to actually describe what I’m trying to say but here’s the quote from the review over on strategy informer:

          “Ranger Mode, the stripped down, HUD-free way to play Last Light, was previously rendered incredibly frustrating by the lack of a method of checking your ammunition levels – something I’m pretty sure most badass metro Rangers would do before wandering into a mutant spider lair. That’s been fixed now, which automatically makes Ranger Mode a great deal more immersive – even if a cynical person might suggest that this simple mechanic would have been pretty easy to add in a patch, rather than making it exclusive to the Redux version.”

      • Reaper175 says:

        Wow I cant believe you guys its not that hard to remember how many rounds you have or what key to press I beat ranger mode soundly on my second play through of Metro LL, its really not that hard and also all you have to do is remember that everything is the same it just doesn’t show up, like switching from grenades to claymores the thing is gone but you can still here the sound it makes when it switches its not that hard

  11. Mittens89 says:

    Haven’t played either, so this is quite a wonderful thing. How often does this happen? Apart from those silly ‘HD versions’ of games from years ago that are essentially just ported across to the latest gen?

    Its pleasing to see some developers working on their games so substantially after the original release. I think they’re worth the money. Well done 4A, well done Firaxis, etc.

  12. scatterbrainless says:

    ” I only half-finished the original Metro 2033 and I’m only three-quarters finished with the Redux version. Additionally, I never played the original Last Light, and I’m only about halfway through the reissue.” – not to be snotty, but maybe it would have been nice to have someone reviewing these who had the first-hand experience to perform a comparison? Graphics are easy to see the difference, but it’s the feel of the mechanical changes as well as the various game modes that I would be interested to hear about.

    • Premium User Badge

      welverin says:

      He played halfway through 2033, which I’d say is plenty for him to make a comparison and 4A themselves have said Last Light hasn’t really changed so his not having played that isn’t really relevant.

  13. axfelix says:

    Does 2033 “feel” better in any aspect beyond the visuals? I remember really enjoying the first half of the game but feeling like it fell off somewhere around when you rescue that kid, as from that point onward you get enough weaponry to pretty much obsolete any stealth tactics (and have to proceed to tediously murder a couple dozen neo-Nazis soon after) and the final few areas that follow almost seem like they play out in fast forward (I think I read a developer interview where they admitted they’d failed to budget adequately for scene transitions) and don’t really succeed in ramping up the challenge particularly well (since the ordinary Doom-esque mutant enemies are kind of soupy in the first place).

    I saw a clip last week of an additional firefight that was added before you enter the library which included enemies ragdolling quite a bit more than previously, which seemed like a good start, but I’m a bit worried at you offhandedly mentioning that irritating kid like nothing’s changed.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Is that the kid where it sounded like they had got the dev’s american son to attempt a russian accent? It made me nauseous to listen to, like he had a golf ball in his throat setting off the gag reflex. I had to switch the language to russian and put on english subtitles.

      I never finished that game because i just ran out of interest in it, but that voice acting was a standout low point

  14. HisDivineOrder says:

    The thing about 2033 is that the engine was crap. I mean, seriously, it was crap. It was poorly optimized and the LL variant of the engine will run better at higher settings on the same hardware than the version that was included with the original 2033.

    I would not recommend ANYONE buy the original 2033 unless the Redux is just garbage because the 2033 engine was horrible. The last time I had an experience so bad from one game to its sequel (where settings could be amped up and the game still ran smoother) was Mass Effect 1 on PC to Mass Effect 2 on PC.

    It’s just obvious that the engine guys had time to really make the thing better. If Redux improves 2033 with LL’s engine, then don’t bother with the original 2033 at all on PC. As for LL Redux, well… I only see the argument if you don’t have the DLC.

  15. Nibblet says:

    No quick save, no care.

  16. Zaraf says:

    I have questions :

    - Stealth in the original 2033 was broken, but at least challenging. Stealth in original Metro Last light was just broken : you stand two meter in front of a guy and he doesn’t spot you as long as you are in a shadow and in a crouch position. How has this been improved in the redux versions ? Did they just used the stealth mechanics of Last light version ? or did they worked on the stealth mechanics of both version ? If this is the first case, I would rather stick to the original 2033 version.

    - Some mutants have dramatically different combat and AI features between 2033 and Last light. In particular the Nosalis, which became deadly in Last light. Did they used the models/AI/characteristics of the Last light mutant versions in the Redux ? Or did they keep the original versions from both games ?

    Thanks!

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