Tested on an AMD Powercolor R9 290 4GB
The Metro series was phenomenal. Combining solid shooting mechanics, a gorgeous but bleak soviet art style and an excellent story many hadn’t heard before it was something fresh and innovative in the world of space marines and war heroes. It combines supernatural scares with post apocalyptic landscapes and very real human emotions and struggles. In short they were a masterpiece. They were also huge technical accomplishments, using almost every trick GPUs had to muster and being used as benchmarks for the most powerful of cards. Now the Redux version are released and what have they changed for PC gamers? On consoles they are the definitive next-gen releases of the games, taking advantage of the new consoles’ power to produce a much better looking game, but on PC you could already turn all these effects up to 11 so is it worth it to shell out extra for the rerelease? We think so.
The Redux version’s biggest feature is the improved graphics. Even on PC the engine has been updated considerably so it runs much better on a wide variety of systems. On our R9 290 we could turn everything up to full and get a steady 60fps at 1080p and it looked absolutely gorgeous. There’s also new effects, new textures and many new details (particularly in the outside scenes) to make the game feel fresh. The differences are much more noticeable in the older of the two games, 2033, where entire areas have been revamped and the lighting is often dramatically different, but even Last Light has had a touch up here and there. The engine optimisations are a big deal and if your rig struggled with the originals, these are well worth checking out as they are likely to run much better. If you haven’t played the games before you’ll be blown away by how they look. With most of the game taking place underground you could be forgiven for thinking this is a corridor shooting, but the use of detail and lighting makes every environment unique and immersive, with firefights becoming terrifying as gunfire illuminates the darkness and the corpses and rats in every corner.
Another change is the difficulty system. There are now multiple difficulties, separated into normal and survivor modes where you have less ammo, takes less hits and have a much more limited HUD. Little things like having an analog watch instead of digital are nice touches and the system feels surprisingly balanced. We played through on Survivor-Ranger, the second hardest of the difficulties (there is a ranger hardcore) and while your health is much reduced, so are the enemies’ health bars so you can often drop the bad guys in a single shot to the chest or at least to the head, avoiding the bullet-sponge feeling that plagues so many harder difficulties in other games. We strongly recommend putting the difficulty up at least a little, the lack of a HUD really improves the game significantly, but at least there is an option to make everything a bit easier than the original for those who just want to see the story.
Many aspects of the gameplay have been modified in response to the positive feedback from Last Light, so stealth, gas masks and gunplay are all much closer to the second game’s mechanics. You can now wipe your gas mask clean, enemies aren’t all alerted in a level just because you tripped over a can or one saw you and stealth sections are much easier but in a realistic way, so fights against human enemies are much more fun. It’s surprising how much this makes a difference to 2033 where previously frustrating areas are now tense and exciting thanks to the alterations.
The final changes are all more subtle but revolve around new areas an the removal of some loading screens. The developers felt that some of the cut-offs damaged the story or immersion so often where you remember the game stopping it’ll continue for a few new rooms or even transition smoothly into the next chapter. This applies to both 2033 and Last Light but the effect is more pronounced in 2033. The new scenes aren’t particularly amazing but they are consistent with the rest of the game and are just as polished as every other area. They make the game more cohesive as you play through, often to the point where you might not notice them at all.
All in all, these improvements are well worth the asking price, even on PC. If you haven’t played the game before, this is clearly the version you should get, and even if you have, it’s worth picking up purely for th alterations to 2033, making it a much less frustrating and polished experience. The differences are less pronounced in Last Light but the engine optimisations at least mean it’s likely to look a lot better on your machine and run more smoothly. This is how re-releases should be handled.