I really enjoy the Metro franchise. With Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux finally making their way to the Nintendo Switch, I was charged with checking them out in a way that wasn't your bog-standard port report. I thought of and executed a silly idea — how is Metro Redux on the go?
To be clear, I wasn't just trying to play Metro Redux in handheld mode. I ventured forth with the aim of actually taking it out into the world. I wanted to see how practical it is to play this atmospheric first-person shooter while commuting or traveling. Can these Metro 2033 games make good use of the Nintendo Switch's handheld mode or are they better played at home on your television?
I had several biases going into this short adventure. I have completed all three Metro 2033 games (some of them multiple times) and I love them to death. I dislike playing shooters on console (something I also had to do for my Metro Exodus preview, much to my consternation). I'm not very good at them with a controller, either. I loathe traveling, I hate crowds, and I'm especially not fond of my ultimate destination: New York City. Let's get to it!
Laying the Tracks — Comparing Switch Handheld and PC Graphics
My first step was to check out the two games in the controlled environment of my home. My focus was playing through the first few levels of Metro 2033 Redux. I played on the Nintendo Switch first and then on my PC second as a point of comparison.
My first venture into the Nintendo Switch version of Metro 2033 Redux was surprisingly impressive. The Metro games are well-known for being drop-dead gorgeous. I had expected them to look much worse than they actually did.
That said, I would be lying if I said I didn't notice a difference between the Switch and my PC. The lighting and shadows are the most obvious changes (as seen in the above image). However, I was playing the game in handheld mode. The screen is much smaller, and the graphical fidelity isn't all that bad for the screen size.
There was only one glaringly obvious bugbear. I noticed some jagged edges on Hunter's shoulder during an early part of the game. Aside from these occasional jagged edges popping up, Metro Redux looked pretty good on the Switch.
Of course, graphical fidelity doesn't count for squat if the game drops frames or stutters. I'm happy to report that neither of the Metro Redux games suffered from this problem in my time with them.
Firing Up the Engine — The Difference in Load Times
One quick thing I wanted to address was the load times. Metro 2033 Redux booted up rather quickly on the Nintendo Switch. Yet, loading from the prologue into the first level "Exhibition" took a little bit of time.
|Loading "Exhibition" for the first time||Re-loading "Exhibition" a second time|
|Metro 2033 Redux on PC *||10 seconds||9 seconds|
|Metro 2033 Redux on Nintendo Switch (Handheld Mode) **||45 seconds||15 seconds|
* PC Specs: OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit — Motherboard: ASUS Z170-AR — Processor: Intel Core i5-6500 3.2 GHz LGA 1151 — Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW — RAM: 2x 8GB Corsair DDR4-3200 PC4-25600 — Hard Drive: Western Digital SE 2TB 7,200 RPM SATA III 6.0 Gb/s WD2000F9YZ
** Nintendo Switch V2 Model "HAC-001 (-01)" with longer battery life.
Unsurprisingly, it takes longer to load into a level on the Nintendo Switch. Loading a level for the first time took 45 seconds. I experienced similar load times playing through the first few levels of the game. On the upside, the suspend feature on the Switch is snappy as heck. It let me get right back into the action.
All Aboard — Taking a Round Trip to New York City
Metro Redux looks pretty darn good for a Nintendo Switch game and it takes a little longer to boot than it does on PC. Now it was time to take it out on the town.
I stuffed my Nintendo Switch into a laptop bag and headed off to Newark Penn Station. From there, I would hop on the PATH Train (a subway that links New Jersey and New York) and travel all the way to the World Trade Center station. The trip roughly takes 25 minutes each way.
The first train was pulling out of the station just as I got there. Thankfully, another train pulled up less than a minute later. I might have been the only person in the whole of the city to be thankful that it was rush hour.
For the Newark-to-New-York-City leg of my trip, I sat down and played through the campaign of Metro 2033 Redux on the Nintendo Switch. I used earbud headphones that came with my old Galaxy S5 because I'm not a jerk to other passengers.
I encountered several problems on the way. None of them were with the game, mind. The overhead lights reflected directly onto the screen, so I had to angle it closer to me. Even with the Switch tilted back, the darkest parts of the game were practically whited out by the light; I had to crank up the Switch's screen brightness to maximum in order to see anything. The din of the train and my fellow travelers was loud enough that I sometimes couldn't hear the game that well.
The train was pulling into World Trade Center right as I was nearing the end of a chapter. I suspended my Switch, stuffed it in my bag, and headed up the stairs. I didn't want to look like a crazy person, so I took a quick look around the shops, balked at an $8 gelato cone, and re-entered the PATH system for my return trip.
Heading back to Newark would be a slightly different ballgame. This time, I would be standing rather than sitting. I would also switch to playing Metro Last Light Redux's various DLC challenges.
The light was less of a problem while standing. The noise remained an issue, and I couldn't get into the game as much as I would have liked to.
Pulling Into the Station
My whole trip (including traveling to and from the train station) took less than three hours. This was the first time that I had ever taken my Nintendo Switch out in public like this. I got a pretty clear picture of how well Metro Redux works on the go.
I think that Metro Redux is going to be ill-suited for anywhere that is too bright. I had to crank up the screen's brightness to see anything at all. That really spoils the moody, dark atmosphere of some of the game's spookier portions. Noise was a major issue, too. I couldn't enjoy the terrifying tunnels of the Moscow Metro with regular earbuds.
I don't think Metro Redux is a good game for your commute or for traveling. It wasn't for me, at least. The charm of the Metro 2033 franchise is getting absorbed in the depressing, post-apocalyptic environment of the game. You can't do that when you're surrounded by a hundred people on a subway car. I'd recommend noise-canceling headphones if you plan on playing it during your commute.
As ports, however, Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux are both pretty great. The graphics weren't just acceptable—they looked genuinely good in handheld mode for the vast majority of the time. Lower-quality lighting & shadows and the occasional jagged edge on a model were the only real downgrades (and they were barely noticeable most of the time). I never encountered any dropped frames, stutters, or any other graphical problems.
4A Games managed to make a damn good port of their first-person shooter. I can heartily recommend the Metro Redux games on the Nintendo Switch—as long as you're content playing shooters with a controller.
This feature was written using Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux on the Nintendo Switch with copies provided by the publisher.