Back in the Metro with “Metro: Redux”

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I was excited to play “Metro: Redux” on the Xbox One. Honestly, it was because I hadn’t finished the two games included in the package, “Metro: 2033” and “Metro: Last Light,” after I initially picked them up on PC, and wanted a chance to get at them both on my new console.

That being said, having both games on the same disc is pretty awesome. Really though, the biggest reason to get the game for the new systems is purely for the framerate increase and more-streamlined gameplay.

For those who don’t know, these games are based on the book series of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom, a citizen of the Metro, trying to garner aid for his station from the military group known as The Rangers.

“Metro” is a survival-horror first-person shooter that relies heavily on atmosphere and tension rather than jump scares and grotesque scenes. While there are moments that will make you cringe, the clever monster design and intricate world will have you more curious and afraid of what you will find around the next corner.

That being said, it’s also a game based off of a book series, so there does seem to be a lot of world building without any actual world building. For example, you’ll see tons of people in a Metro, want to know how they live, or the backstory behind their conflict with the Nazi faction that lives one station over. You’ll never really get that. You’ll see it all, but you’ll never learn about it. Couple that with a pseudo-mystical-science-fiction situation going on, and you’re likely to get confused if you don’t pay attention to all the dialogue or read the books.

But to “Metro’s” defense, seeing things also brings a large amount of player perception into the game that is so story-driven and atmospheric. It’s a nice change of pace, reminiscent of games like “Borderlands” or “Fallout,” rather than “Silent Hill” or “Call of Duty.”

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The Rangers are always prepared for the horrors of the Metro.

The game plays much like “Fallout” minus the V.A.T.S. component and plus a linear game design to move the plot forward. Players will spend a lot of time scrounging for ammo for their weapons, as well as military-grade ammo to use as money in stations. Not only that, but filters for the gas mask are literally the only thing standing between you and a damage-over-time death on the surface or in hot-spots in the Metro itself. Also, a gas mask that isn’t riddled with bullets would be nice too.

Enemies in the form of mutated animals, Nazis or Soviet soldiers and bandits will tend to have some form of strategy when coming at you. At times, the monsters will try to overwhelm you with numbers or try and whittle you away with hit and run attacks. The humans can be stealthily dispatched, or you can run into the fray with guns blazing depending on how good of a shot you are and how much ammo you have.

When you finally reach another station, upgrading weapons is essential for survival as you’ll need either more accurate shots or more range to keep the monsters at bay.

Now, there have been a few changes to the game on the PC in this collection. I remember when playing “2033” that when I got to some stations, I could actually purchase different outfits that would help Artyom survive your specific play styles. A stealth jacket that was padded for moving quietly, or a military jacket that had some armor and Kevlar if you’re a run-and-gun type.

These were nowhere to be found in the updated “Redux” version of the game. It felt like the designers had decided that was maybe a little too much for the player and they didn’t need it, so away it went. They also just handed me the night-vision goggles, rather than having me buy them in game as well. It seems a lot of concessions were made to move the game along at a steady pace, rather than slow it down and let the player dictate the play style.

While I enjoyed the gas mask mechanic pretty thoroughly, I found it extremely frustrating at times. When in a fight, the mask can get damaged and you’ll have to find another one to replace it. This gets hard when you can’t take them off of your human enemies, and need to find a long dead corpse somewhere in the level to loot. Now, if you’ve passed the one you were supposed to loot in a part of the level you can’t get back to, you can actually die mid-mission from a lack of masks, and instead of dying from the fighting, you’ll slowly watch yourself get poisoned from the irradiated air.

The same goes for filters. Two-minute timers on the filters are things you need to watch out for, as forgetting to replace one will also leave you to suck in all that nasty radiation. Can’t find any filters, or pass them because they blend into the ground or debris too well? Too bad. Get ready to start from the last checkpoint, which may very well be when you’re suffocating to death already.

“Metro: Redux,” while not a ground-breaking game in the graphical sense, is still a solid purchase. Each game on the disc will maybe run you anywhere from 7-10 hours of playtime, adding up to a nice chunk of fun. It’s definitely not the prettiest game on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, but it’s not so old that it looks bad. Think “Call of Duty: Black Ops”, still nice looking, but we’ve seen better.

Despite my issues with the gameplay at times, I found myself wanting to immediately continue to “Last Light” to find out what happens to Artyom when I beat “2033.” Even the moral decisions in “Last Light” had me rethinking my play style completely, and resulted in a lot of restarting from previous checkpoints. Plus, the improved tutorials in “Last Light” showed me things I didn’t know in “2033” that they hadn’t told me or shown me. If you’re thinking about picking up “Metro: Redux,” wait a little bit till it’s price has dropped, and then nab that thing. You’ll have some fun in post-apocalyptic Russia.

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Even with some dated graphics, this game is a treat for the eyes.