Remasters and reduxes are all the rage right now. It's an easy way to make a quick buck, after all, and recycle some of the best experiences of last-gen, keeping the cash coming in and hopefully picking up one or two newcomers along the way. There'll always be questions as to the deserving nature of these revamped games, particularly when it comes to titles barely a generation old, but there's something to be said for 4A Games' Metro double header getting the current-gen treatment.
Metro 2033 once used to be the benchmark for graphics card tests, and the original version still holds up pretty well on PC, but the Redux version really is a step up, with 4A porting 2033 over into Last Light's engine. The visual tweaks and upgrades are all as you'd expect: textures have been overhauled and remodelled, there's a deeper colour palette, and noticeably improved lighting -- all of which makes for a game that's somehow even more atmospheric than when it came around the first time. Better yet, 4A have redone a number of the cutscenes in 2033 to keep players in first-person mode, minimising immersion-breaking occurrences.
PC gamers might not necessarily find these upgrades particularly worthwhile, but on PS4, the games really do feel new-gen, particularly Last Light which is now far closer to its PC sibling and has some absolutely dazzling lighting effects to behold. The visual detail across both games is now realised fantastically on consoles, and the improved clothing physics, improved facial constructions and character animations in 2033, really make for a seamless experience. The console versions still can't quite boast the particle effects of the PC equivalent, but it's a marked step up.
That said, one of the best things about the grouping of the two games together is that 4A now give players a variety of choices in terms of the gameplay experience, and the balance of difficulty. Not only do you have Normal, Hardcore, Ranger, and Ranger Hardcore modes, which will steadily remove HUD elements and ratchet up the damage for both you and your adversaries, but you can essentially bring the experience of one game over to the other for a more consistent experience. If you enjoyed the fiendishly stringent survival-horror of the first game, you can incorporate that into Last Light via Survival mode. Fancy playing 2033 with more opportunities for gunplay and a more generous load of items? You absolutely can thanks to Spartan mode. You can also now play Metro 2033 with the incredibly handy watch Artyom was rocking in Last Light, complete with the stealth aid that glowed blue when you were visible to enemies. 2033's "hive mind" stealth fails are a thing of the past here, but the survival experience is certainly no less gruelling.
So, let's ask the obvious questions:
Is it worth it if you played through both before?
There are two further questions that need to be answered, really, and they are 1) What platform did you play them on to begin with, and 2) Did you enjoy them? The full bundle isn't really worth it for PC gamers, in my humble opinion. There's just not been enough of a step up for Last Light to really warrant that. However, you can buy the two Redux versions separately. RRP notes ahead of launch suggest that you can buy the games (with all of the DLC included) for £15.99 / €19.99 / $24.99 each digitally, or together in the full Metro Redux compilation for £34.99 / €39.99 / $49.99. A quick sweep has retailers stocking the boxset across all platforms for under £30 at the time of writing, with digital retailers offering individual titles for under £15 on PC.
On console, it makes sense to grab the Redux versions if you enjoyed the games the first time around. Metro 2033 has that clash of older assets/newer engine, but it looks and plays better than ever before thanks to the adjustments made to the stealth aspects. Last Light, on the current-gen consoles, occasionally looks even better than Killzone: Shadow Fall, such are the improvements to that game's lighting.
Is it worth it if you've never played it before?
It's the perfect jumping in point, but again it rather depends on platform. The games are so cheap on PC that I'd almost be tempted to say no, but then again I'd personally probably drop a few extra quid for definitive versions, and that's certainly what we have here. On console, it's a no-brainer: this is the version that you want. If you've not played the Metro games before, you're in for a real treat. You can read our more extensive reviews of Metro 2033 here, and Metro: Last Light here.
There are still too many vehicular sections and "defend this place" moments in Last Light, and too many forced, wave-based encounters across the board to be honest. The voice acting is still fairly hit and miss, and carrying the creepy child is just as tedious and awful as it ever was thanks to some astonishingly poor voice work and dubious animation. Annoying turret sections are still annoying, even when things look shinier, and the loveliness of the outdoor weather effects in the all-too-brief moments when you breach the surface and venture outside really serve to underline just how brief and fleeting those moments are. In short, the "Redux" itself can't fix everything.
But that's really just nitpicking against a couple of games that are two of the most striking and memorable shooters we've had in years. It's the bleak subterranean world created in both Metro 2033 and its sequel Last Light that truly shines, and the unified controls, the manner by which you can customise the experience across both games to create something more consistent -- be that Survivalist or Spartan warrior -- the greater degree of visual fidelity and improved effects, they all make Metro Redux more like a new-gen, grand, dystopian epic split into two parts rather than a buffed-up 4-year-old game and its sequel.
- Consistent experience across both games
- Outstandingly atmospheric
- Graphical overhaul for Metro 2033 and improved lighting for Last Light make both games shine
- Slight mechanical improvements, particular for 2033's stealth make for a better experience
- Range of difficulty choices and gameplay experiences to suit players of all proficiencies
- The Redux can't fix annoying horde bits or dodgy voice acting
- More of a leap forward on consoles than PC (though the differences are still noticeable on the latter)
The Short Version: This is the Metro experience how it was meant to be. With 2033 brought up to parity with its successor in terms of visual aspects and a smoother stealth experience, 2033 and Last Light come together to form a glorious whole that's more atmospheric than ever, giving a second chance to one of the most striking and original shooters out there. Essential stuff, especially on console, for fans and newcomers alike.
Platforms: PC (tested) | PS4 (reviewed) | Xbox One
Developers: 4A Games
Publishers: Deep Silver