Wednesday, November 02, 2022

First Play Review - Metro 2033 Redux [2014]

Note: While Metro 2033 was released by THQ in 2010, Deep Silver later released a Redux (enhanced) version. The latter release is reviewed here.

In 2010 Ukrainian studio 4A Games turned Russian science-fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky's most famous novel Metro 2033 into a much lauded single-player first-person shooter. The game is set in the underground Metro tunnels of a Moscow which has been almost utterly destroyed by nuclear war. You play as one of the Metro's inhabitants who must brave the perpetually dark tunnels and sometimes harsh winter of the surface as you evade or kill both enemy factions and mutated beasts. As opposed to a military science-fiction shooter as one might suspect, the game falls instead into the category of survival-horror. It's really the worst kind of genre as I generally hate the idea of "ammo conservation", "environmental death" and "jump-scare-enemies". While certainly normally not my thing I decided to at least attempt to play by the rules, and see what 4A Games produced, especially as the series has progressed to a trilogy (thus far).

Following 4A's initial success with the game in 2010, they released a sequel Metro: Last Light in 2013 featuring significant graphical and gameplay improvements. Some of these improvements were then retroactively applied to the original Metro 2033 and 4A created a superior version of both games called Metro Redux the following year in 2014. Naturally I installed the Redux version of Metro 2033 and was greeted with a stable platform with a superior graphical fidelity augmented by Windows 11 HDR.

The central narrative, as with most FPS isn't considerably complex. As Artyom a young inhabitant of Exhibition, one of the underground areas humanity has claimed, you are tasked to bring an important message to Polis, capital of the Metro. You embark on a fairly linear path through the dank tunnels, collapsing walkways, monster ridden sewers and sometimes the even deadlier topside. The game is very atmospheric, everyone speaks English but in their native accents, everything feels broken and filthy, lighting is used to phenomenal effect and you rarely feel alone for long due to a plethora of NPCs you encounter along your route. Listening to others talk earns you hidden humanity which may effect the outcome of the game, much of the NPCs stories are most critical of modern Russia, but satire is not the focus of the game, it simply adds flavour.

Thankfully the game does not seem to fully embrace the harsher survival horror tropes of the genre. This is partly because the "Spartan" difficulty mode was ported into Metro 2033 from Metro Last Light. In this mode one is given greater resources and movement speed as opposed to the default play style of the original version of the game which by all accounts seemed more difficult such as having a less forgiving environment and less equipment and ammunition to collect. I did conserve a lot of ammo in the first half of the game but I became a little more trigger-happy as it went on as I got used to the amount of ammo one picks up with simple exploration.

AI is not the best here and there are not a significant variety of enemies, with some appearing in only one or two small areas of the game. There are not really jump scares or such nonsense but fear and apprehension is forced with the use of sound. When sound stops you know you've killed everything. Weapons are interesting; there are standard "pre war" weapons such as revolvers and Kalashnikovs but many weapons are bastardised makeshift weapons that have been put together from components of other devices such as gas-operated ball-bearing weapons. You can only carry three, so the tactic of picking up something that has more ammo than what you're holding can be used frequently.

There was one stand-out level partway through the game where you have have cross over (or under) a bridge - each side guarded by an enemy faction... who are also against each other! While many of the levels were unique even to a veteran FPS player, this seemed extraordinarily well designed and could be traversed differently, a stealth route under the bridge or a "loud" route across it. I completed one side by popping off each member of the enemy faction on one side with just a silenced pistol. Then I collected all their ammunition which I used on a crazy frontal assault to the other side. It wasn't the only time interesting choices were presented in an otherwise strictly linear game which was a nice touch.

The only issue I encountered during gameplay was a couple of times on the surface - where you must wear a gas mask or die from the poisoned atmosphere - was that I ran out of gas mask filters while exploring for ammo and ironically, more gas-mask filters! The first time it happened I had to replay a significant portion back beyond a number of autosaves to the beginning of the level so I could change my gas mask filter replacement and conservation strategy to have enough to finish the level. The second time it happened I enabled a cheat to put no time limit on the filter. Replaying sequences due to not having resources available wasn't something I was interested in doing. Other than this minor issue the game was great.

Final Verdict: The survival horror genre attached to this game put me off for years, but it's not nearly as harsh as the genre suggests in this Redux version. You have plenty of ways to see by flashlight, petrol lighter and even night-vision goggles. Ammo and equipment was more plentiful than in some WWII shooters so this is certainly a very light implementation of survival-horror, something which will make me less apprehensive now about the sequel Metro: Last Light that I will experience at some point in the future.

Technicals: 12.5 hours playtime through Steam using a Nvidia 3070Ti @ 3440x1440 @ 175Hz with max settings on Windows 11. As a Direct X game, it activated Windows HDR and this provided an unexpected amount of superior lighting.

Bugs: No bugs of note.

Metro 2033 Redux is available from Steam or GOG for €19.99 when not in a sale. Review copy purchased from Humble Bundle (with Metro: Last Light Redux) for €5.69 in December 2019.


  • Metro 2033 [2010]
  • Metro: Last Light [2013]
  • - Metro Redux [2014]
  • Metro Exodus [2019]
  • - Metro Exodus (Enhanced) [2021]

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