by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
A Descent Once More Into A Familiar Hell
In 2005, author Dmitry Glukhovsky's book Metro 2033 was released in Russia. This book details the life and times of the survivors of a great nuclear war as seen from the perspective of survivors in Moscow, forced to live their lives in the dark underground tunnels that were once part of their subway transit systems. Metro 2033 found its way to the USA in 2010, along with a game of the same name. Based on the same story, it brought the darkness and blight of a near future apocalypse to life in a way few first person shooter titles had before; the story was alive. You weren't just living out the same exact steps of the book, you weren't just a random grunt being ordered around by useless AI soldiers. You were part of a living struggle to make it to your goal alive and with your sanity intact.
This week, 4A Games and Deep Silver re-released the game as "Metro 2033 Redux". As a huge fan of the original, I jumped at the chance to review Redux while fellow writer Quinn Levandoski got to work on Metro: Last Light Redux, a re-release of the sequel. For Metro 2033, the re-release is more than just a graphical makeover. So much more...
Changes In Terror
Veterans of the original version of Metro 2033 will notice a change in how the game starts. Before you pick your difficulty, you pick the way you want to play the game. Will you pick Survival, which will require players to conserve ammo, utilize stealth, and pick and choose when to fight or flee? Or will you pick Spartan, which is more akin to the action style of Metro: Last Light? The ability to pick between Survival and Spartan is included in both of the Metro: Redux titles, and each play out very differently. Not wanting to risk compromising the dark thrill of the first time I played Metro 2033, I opted for Survival and though I was also tempted to go with the hardest difficulty available I passed it up for the normal difficulty instead.
So here I was, once more taking that first climb into the outside world. Or rather, first from the gameplay perspective. You see, Metro 2033 actually begins at a climactic moment in the story and then in a flash the main character Artyom retells the story, and as such you relive it from his perspective. That first scene really helps set the stage and the gut wrenching feeling of the troubles that wait ahead. The story remains as superb today as it was in 2010 as it successfully combines the horrors of war with the supernatural and paranormal sprinkled in just enough to add another layer of tension. However with Metro: Last Light showing us what the canon ending is, returning players may feel inclined not to make same the choices for what - at the time - seemed like the "good" ending.
The first thing I noticed other than the graphical enhancements, were the controls. I'm not sure if it is all in my head or if the controls are honestly much more polished than they once were, but I went from a game where I died more often to accidental falls or overextended movements to something that controlled as crisp and precise as other shooters. Firing from the hip was actually a viable option this time around, whereas in the past you'd be lucky to hit the broad side of a barn without aiming down your sights. There are times when the enemies are swarming too fast to aim down your sights reliably, so that is a very welcome change that didn't take away from the immersion at all. It even allowed me to save some of my precious bullets.
Substantially improves the original, adds the ability to truly decide how you want to experience it.
It eventually has an end, minor annoyance with Russian accents on non-Russian characters.