So the PS4 is continuing the whole “HD collection” trend that the PS3 had going on, and it’s now grown to include the excellent “Metro” series- “2033” and “Last Light”. “2033” was an Xbox 360 and PC exclusive, so for those who exclusively play Sony consoles this will be their first chance to get into it. At least, it’ll be their first chance to play a version of it, which I’ll elaborate on shortly.
First, the background. I played through and beat “2033” back on 360 and loved it- it’s a damn fine example of how a first person shooter can be a genuinely effective horror game (it thoroughly puts, for example, “F.E.A.R” to shame, a game I’ve always thought to be overrated)- blending stealth, tough shooting and intense horror all with a solid story adapted from Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Russian novel of the same name. Plus, you can play the entire game in Russian with English subtitles. That’s a pretty cool option. “Last Light” was a more action-based sequel that took the focus away from horror in favour of a more human-focused story with better stealth and more streamlined combat. It was a good game, but I personally preferred “2033”‘s horror approach. It’s this game I want to address here, because unlike many “HD” re-releases, this isn’t a simple visual upgrade- it’s an overhaul.
The story remains the same- you are Artyom, a young man living in the Moscow metro stations (a real-life potential solution to nuclear apocalypse) after the world has been thoroughly ruined and polluted by the end of the world as we know it- people are few, monsters roam the surface, and the atmosphere is lethal to human lungs. A new threat from creatures called “Dark Ones” arises and Artyom is sent on a long journey across Moscow to deliver the message of the Dark One’s arrival, and hopefully find a way to stop them. The story doesn’t have many real twists and turns or the like, but it’s of a consistent quality, and as a journey it works well- the world is a vibrant (in a very bleak way) and detailed one, whether you’re encountering groups of Russians all huddled into a metro station attempting to live some semblance of a normal life, sneaking your way through a frontline in the nazi-communist war (Yes, that’s a things. Nazis are apparently so persistent they survived the apocalypse) or negotiating the ruins up on the surface.
The gameplay is where things have really changed. Basically- it’s like “Last Light” now. Same UI, same inventory, same three weapon slots, same “Mask Wipe” button, and same improved shooting. Now calling switching out a game’s UI and gameplay with that of its sequel included on the same disc an “Overhaul” may sound like Hyperbole, and I understand if you think that, but given how different the two games felt this is a pretty big change. “2033” had a set number of weapon slots with certain weapons having alternatives in the same category- the new limited weapon slots mean you obviously have fewer options but you can carry literally any three guns you like (from those available, obviously), and the customistation options are strong. Its shooting also leaned towards the more realistic side of the spectrum, and as such felt less refined than it did in “Last Light”- complementing the horror atmosphere. Basically what I’m trying to say here is that both games now have more of an action focus, gameplay-wise. “2033” can be played on two different modes- one supposedly more akin to “Last Light”, and the other supposedly more in line with the original “2033”, which I picked. This turned out to make little difference though- this mode was still crammed full of ammo and health pick-ups. The few times I died were because I couldn’t get away quick enough or I took too much damage in too short a space in time. The game has also lost its dedicated “Check watch” button, so now to check your oxygen level you have to view your watch when you’re holding your gun, which is less accurate. Fortunately the game flat out tells you when to change your gas mask filter so swings and roundabouts. Is Metro “2033” worth getting in this state? I’d say so, yes- it’s still the same game, just with the refined gameplay and UI of “Last Light”. Purists might be put off, but this is definitely worth at least giving a look- especially if you’ve never played the original version.
The version of “Last Light” included here is pretty much just an upscale, but with all the DLC included. Among other things are several chapters played from the perspectives of various different characters, including one great mission in which you venture up to the surface around the Moscow library (Yep, THAT library) in search of pre-war items to sell for weapons other supplies.
Overall, this is a good package- refined version of “2033”, “Last Light” plus all its DLC, for a reduced price. If you’ve never played the games, this is the way to go. If you have already you may just want to pick up “2033” stand-alone to see the changes. But both games hold up well (Last Light only came out last year so I should bloody well hope so), and are still really solid as horror games, and as FPSs.
Oh, one last thing: they changed The Librarians- they look like enemies from some lost “Doom 3” expansion. It’s a shame- I really liked their old design.
By James Lambert