I am an absolute sucker for any sort of post-apocalyptic game. Generally the apocalypse is either nuclear, zombies, or both. Give me a ruined world and a rifle cobbled together from scrap and I’m happy.
Metro 2033 Redux is a solid entry in the post-apocalyptic genre developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. When it comes to nuclear wastelands, 4A Games is certainly full of experts – it was formed by people who had worked on GSC Game World’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, another notable entry in the post-apocalypic genre.
Metro 2033 Redux is based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro book series and expanded universe. World War III has happened, and many people in Moscow and the surrounding area managed to survive by escaping into the Moscow Metro. The surface is mildly radioactive, the air isn’t safe to breathe, and mutated wildlife are a constant threat. As if that weren’t enough, there are creepier paranormal happenings such as strange, human-shaped shadows lingering in the dark and psychically-gifted “Dark Ones” whose mere presence can cause humans to fall unconscious.
Enter the hero of our story, Artyom. A 20-something-year-old man living in the VDNKh station, where he meets a man named Hunter. Hunter is a member of an elite order of soldiers known as Rangers, and he brings dire news – Arytom’s home station is under threat from the Dark Ones. Hunter hands Artyom his dog tags and instructs him to make his way to Polis Station should he not return – and he doesn’t. Artyom has to get help from the Ranger order by leaving the comfort and familiarity of his home station lest it be destroyed.
The Metro games are notable for a number of gameplay features that fit the post-apocalyptic theme. Military-grade assault rifle bullets are used as currency. Shooting them will deal more damage than the standard hand-reloaded bullets, but you are literally “shooting money” and it’s best saved for the most dire of situations. Gas masks are a necessity to anyone travelling outside of the safety of the Metro system. You will constantly be looking for new filters as well as the occasional replacement mask when yours has become too damaged as a result of combat. Some of the guns are military equipment, and some are original creations of the Metro’s gunsmiths.
Stealth is another important element of Metro 2033 Redux. You are by no means required to use stealth, but sneak melee attacks and outright avoidance of combat can save you a lot of bullets. The vast majority of the game can be completed using stealth, and there are only a handful of places that require outright combat with no way to sneak past the danger. I am not a huge fan of stealth games – I often find them too unforgiving and frustrating – but those who do enjoy them will probably find a lot to love about Metro 2033 Redux.
Metro 2033 Redux’s graphics are nothing short of amazing. The original Metro 2033 suffered from optimization issues, but Metro 2033 Redux is made with the superior engine used for Metro: Last Light and avoids most of those problems. My computer is midrange at best and I was able to run the game with no noticeable hiccups. People who have high-end rigs will have a lot of toys to play with in the options menu. Many different kinds of anti-aliasing and pretty graphical features are available for those who want to make good use of their high-end graphics cards. The only minor graphical nitpick I have is the occasional modelling or rigging issue, such as a shoulderpad clipping through a character, but these sorts of things are barely noticeable in such a beautiful dystopia.
The dark atmosphere of the post-war Metro stations is greatly enhanced by the masterful sound design – especially when things decide to step into the paranormal. Turning off all the lights in your room and having to sit through the distant echoing laughter of children who simply aren’t there is something that horror fans will appreciate. The music fits Metro 2033 Redux quite nicely and properly enhances the mood of whatever situation you happen to be in – getting caught in a firefight will be met with fast-paced music that really gets the adrenaline flowing.
With the exception of the occasional large fight or stop in a Metro station, I experienced a constant sense of quiet discomfort and unsettling fear. There’s the occasional jump scare, sure, but the great strength of the Metro’s creepiness is the little things, like a distant scratching sound or a shadow on a wall with nothing to cast it. The game occasionally steps into a sort of hallucination where Arytom is walking through some sort of alien tunnel or seeing the outside world as it used to be only to be snapped back to the ruined reality before him.
Time spent in the stations is an entirely different beast. It’s difficult to imagine living in the squalor that some of these characters manage to survive in. The level designers have done excellent work in making Metro 2033 Redux’s train stations look very lived-in. Everywhere you look there are hints of a person trying to make a concrete wall feel a little more like home. Artyom’s room in particular looks no different than how a soldier’s personal bunk would look – a bed, a few postcards on the wall, and a trunk containing worldly possessions shoved under the bed.
You’re sometimes paired with a companion during your adventures, and you get a good sense of who they are as characters. In my own playthrough experiences they were never any sort of detriment to my gameplay. If I were stealthy, they were stealthy. If I ran out guns blazing, they were competent enough in combat. There are a few situations where you would expect your back to be covered by your comrades and find yourself flanked by an angry mutant (most notable in the prologue portion of the game), but these are rare scenarios where the odds are stacked against you and it’s understandable that your buddies are a bit panicked.
A special note must be made about Metro 2033 Redux’s Ranger Mode. Enthusiasts of the series will insist that it is the only way to play the game, and I can understand the appeal. Everyone becomes a glass cannon – a single well-placed shot can kill an enemy human and the same rules apply to you as well. It makes combat more tense and far less forgiving, and stealth becomes all the more important. I’m sure there are some insane people who have managed to make their way through this game in Ranger mode with a minimal use of stealth, but such a gameplay style would leave a comically tiny amount of room for any sort of error.
There’s also the choice between “Survival Mode” and “Spartan Mode” to be made at the outset of the game. Survival Mode plays more like the original Metro 2033 where there was more of an emphasis on, well, survival. Spartan mode lightens up on the survival elements and focuses the game a bit more towards combat. If you’re looking for a more hardcore experience, you should probably go with Ranger & Survival. If you’re looking for a more action-oriented, run & gun kind of experience then you should forget about Ranger mode entirely and take the more forgiving gameplay of Spartan mode.
Although these choices are explained fairly well at the start of a new game, they can be a bit confusing for a new player. To make things worse, there is a sort of hidden “morality system” built into Metro 2033 Redux. Spoiler warning: Simply reading about the system can potentially spoil a lot of the game’s story for you. The system influences which ending you get, and without making use of a guide it’s difficult to tell which actions are going to influence which ending you get. You’re meant to try to immerse yourself in the world and experience it, and the morality system seems to be an attempt to quantify how well you’ve done that in Metro 2033 Redux. Whether or not it succeeds is up to the player, but failing to accrue enough points will make a certain ending inaccessible even if the player comes to a realization about what to do of their own accord.
Metro 2033 Redux’s controls suffer from a mild case of console-itis. Multiple functions are often bound to the same key. Tapping R will reload your firearm, and holding it will swap your handloaded junk rounds with military-grade rounds. I would have greatly appreciated the ability to set these functions to separate keys – I had found myself accidentally using military-grade rounds more than once.
The player’s equipment also has some interesting features in terms of gameplay. Pressing M to bring up the lighter will not only provide light or burn away cobwebs – the flame points in the direction of your objective. Holding M to bring up the notebook will have a compass that also points in the correct direction, but this does not allow you to have a gun out as the lighter does.
A complete run of Metro 2033 Redux will probably take anywhere from 8-12 hours, and those 8-12 hours will be spent walking through a relatively straight line. There’s nothing wrong with a linear experience per se, but there is such a sense of a larger world out there that you unfortunately don’t get to explore.
Metro 2033 Redux is an overall solid FPS game with an interesting story and amazing dark atmosphere. It has a handful of minor flaws, but they’re not significant enough to detract from the overall experience of working your way through the creepy and unforgiving tunnels of the post-apocalyptic Moscow Metro. You can purchase Metro 2033 Redux on Steam, and this reviewer recommends that you buy it in a bundle with its sequel Metro: Last Light Redux.
Metro 2033 Redux was purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on the PC Platform.
Do you wish Metro 2033 Redux had a more open world, or were you perfectly fine with the linear world? Let us know in the comments below!
Although it's a bit linear at times, Metro 2033 Redux excels in providing a first-person shooter experience with bountiful opportunities to make clever use of stealth.