Metro 2033 Redux (Review) | Smoke & Mirrors

Metro 2033 Redux (Review) | Smoke & Mirrors


Hello and welcome to another Smoke and Mirrors
episode here on AI and Games where I’m going to review my time spent with Metro 2033: originally
released in 2010 and developed by 4A games, I was taking my time with the Redux edition,
an updated version of the game released on PS4, Xbox One and PC back in 2014. This has
been on my to-do list for a while and given this years release of Metro Exodus I figured
it was high time I get around to playing the series. Based on the 2002 novel by Dmitry
Glukhovsky, Metroi 2033 takes place in a post apocalyptic Moscow where survivors of the
attack fled down into the subway tunnels in an effort to survive and have been done there
ever since. 20 years have passed since the bombs dropped and society has divided into
factions holding control of their own territory throughout the Metro, all the while the surface
is still too dangerous to live upon – be it due to the radiation levels or the mutated
animals that haunt the lands. Players take control of Artyom – a man in his early 20’s
who lives in the settlement of Exhibition and is now determined to reach the larger
settlement of Polis to seek help against ‘the dark ones’ an unknown force that is now creeping
across the Metro and taking many a life with it. It’s a hell of a premise, I’ll give it
that. The game provides two routes with which to
take the game, be it in Survival Mode – which emphasises stealth and more akin to the original
game – or Spartan mode which is more run-n-gun and a little more lenient when it comes to
ammo and such. I opted for the original, but I’m not sure what difference the Spartan mode
would have on the game for reasons I’ll get into later. The plot is generally quite interesting
and it’s fun to diversify the gameplay as you visit different regions of the Metro,
where you have areas completely dominated by mutants, strange phenomena such as the
anomalies and ghosts that haunt some of the tunnels. Plus fighting off hardcore communists
and Nazi’s, because of course there’s Nazi’s. So it’s not quite an all out shooter, it’s
a bit of a horror game with shooter elements as well as stealth sequences but is still
very linear. The lead developers on Metro 2033 had previously worked on STALKER and
I feel the influences of that game here albeit a lot more streamlined. The engine feels similar
in control and movement – which is a little clunky, but nonetheless still easy enough
to handle. All that said, there are issues with it that hinder the overall experience
and I feel like at times it becomes increasingly more prevalent that you’re playing a rather
unbalanced game. OK so let’s talk about that. The game focusses heavily on the idea of limited
resources for your intended plan, be it attacking enemies, healing yourself, keeping your flashlight
active, finding filters necessary for your gas mask to work top side, even having a functional
gas mask. Every resource is a commodity, where even those that are renewable have caveats
in that you expose yourself or risk putting yourself in harms way. So major sequences
of the game expect you to prepare in advance and use resource sparingly. Hence it encourages
stealthy approaches towards human settlements that you find throughout the game, take out
lights, stealth kill enemies and make as little noise as possible. One of the main reasons
for that is that when you face off against the mutated animals either in tunnels or top-side,
you have little option other than to attack. A lot of it comes down to how enemy AI characters
are designed, since it seems like the human characters are – by default – built to not
see the player on inception and instead wait on you to expose yourself by being in the
light or making too much noise. However, the animals are sort of the opposite: you find
a lot of them always beeline to your location, they know where you are, spawn in and rush
in to attack. A lot of that is very obvious in the scenes top-side given you’ll hear the
howls of mutants on the horizon, then they’ll rush in to attack en masse. At which point
you better hope that your guns are armed and loaded. It’s actually a disappointment, given the
emphasis on stealth when dealing with humans both underground and topside that there is
little to nothing you can do about avoiding confrontation with mutants. They always seem
to be able to find you? I replayed certain segments over and over again but the game
is adamant you get into a fight. So I often found the trick to winning those gun fights
was either to deliberately prop myself in locations the mutants have trouble reaching,
navigating to tight or awkward spaces. Or alternatively, stand next to a NPC that is
critical to the story. They can’t die, so let them do all the hard work. A big reason
for that is that reloading guns in Metro 2033 takes forever, so any weapon you have you
just swap it out and empty the ammo of the other gun if you can afford to do so. I heavily
employed this tactic when there were large numbers of mutants to wipe out, given they
take quite a lot of bullets to kill, so instead just stand behind the line of friendly AI,
shoot them all, then fallback and reload and hope they’re all too busy attacking my near-invincible
co-op buddies to notice. The one notable exception to this is a sequence
in the library up on the surface, where the mutatns nicknamed librarians haunt the corridors
and are a pretty terrifying presence. They’ll mess you up good if provoked, but you can
scare them off largely by staring them down. It’s a little weird given on first attempt
I missed the dialogue that explains this and discovered it by accident. I actually thought
they might be blind or have limited vision like a T-Rex. See, this is why you should
pay more attention to what your NPC buddies say to you at times. It sounds like I’m slamming the game, but
overall I actually rather enjoyed it. I found it was… fine. A solid story-driven FPS to
play through and good ones of those are in relatively short supply, I’m keen to go and
give the second game in the series – Metro Last Light – a try, and then potentially Metro
Exodus after that. But I don’t really have any desire to replay it, I read that there
is a secret morale system that governs a secret ending, but yeah – not really compelled to
go back and give it another crack. But hey, you like a good shooter and have 8 hours to
kill, this will easily take up a weekend quite nicely. That’s it for this Smoke and Mirrors, be sure
to support AI and Games to chat about these games early with me. Support AI and Games
on the Patreon and as a YouTube member like these good people. Stay safe, have fun and
I’ll be back!

24 Comments

  • AI and Games says:

    This is the last entry of Smoke & Mirrors in its original form. Starting with the next episode, I revamp the series to be less of a traditional review format. Instead the focus is on one particular mechanic or aspect of how a game is developed and discussing what it is about it that I find very interesting – be it AI, gameplay, animation and more. With the first two episodes already lined up as Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Dead Cells!

    P.S. I have yet to get around to playing both Metro: Last Light and Exodus. But it's on the to-do list.

  • d4D1L says:

    Yes This was really frustrating. Gonna play the new one this weekend. Hope it handles this better.

  • Artersa says:

    Looking forward to the more specific aspects being reviewed for future episodes. Woot.

  • Weston says:

    lovely stuff

  • Weston says:

    amazing video

  • Pol says:

    So frustrating they replaced the superior original version for the redux

  • jodudeit says:

    I enjoyed Metro 2033 and Last Light, but one playthrough was plenty for me. Metro Exodus, on the other hand, I've played through twice, once on Normal difficulty, and once on Ranger Hardcore, which is a difficulty level I almost never choose in games. Exodus is my favorite of the entire series.

  • Jimmy Bobs says:

    One of the big things that affects your balance is the difficulty level you play it in. The devs themselves say Ranger at minimum is the difficulty you're meant to use though personally I prefer ranger hardcore. It's a good balance in that as you get weaker so do enemies meaning one or two shots is all you need rather than mag dumping. The game isn't very forthcoming with a lot of things but as someone who's played through the campaign countless times you explore enough and learn it then you can make some wonderful shit with it

  • XimerTracks - Sub To Me says:

    AI and Games

  • Rettznom says:

    I also found the sections with waves of mutants particularly frustrating (in both games). Mutants take quite a few shots to put down and there are so damn many at a time. It doesn't help that the weapons take forever to reload, so more often than not you take unavoidable damage while running away and reloading.

  • Schopenhauer says:

    OFF Topic
    I just bought "The Division 2"
    The AI is so dumb its boring. They sit there to be shot, i don't need cover. I could stand in the middle of the battleground and kill everybody like Schwarzenegger in Commando.

    (The game is so easy its insulting. The action has no feeling, no intensity.
    Its so terribly acted you feel alone in this game. There is no Alyx Vance or any NPC you can "care" about.
    It was a -95% offer and i feel ripped off.)

  • The Sword Art Online Dickriding Association says:

    To be honest, all of your criticisms sound like deliberate design desicisions that help to enhance the experience.

    Yeah, mutants know where you are and run at you in large numbers, that's how they overrun Metro stations in the story. Yes, reloading takes a long time, in real life you're better off swapping to a different weapon in that situation too. Yes, you want to get to a place mutants have trouble reaching, that's the smart, realistic thing to do. Not much can be done about the invincible AI companion thing unfortunately.

  • 9SS94Cr says:

    You CAN avoid fighting mutants, sometimes, and only if you pay very close attention and take out the patrol stealthily, or have played the game too many times to notice that. Metro series is a stealth game first and for most. Also, in ranger mode where you can die from one or two hits from the enemies, you too can kill most creatures with one or two well placed shots, which made the experience much more rewarding.

  • Bi - furious says:

    I wonder what the thematic purpose was of having a mini ww2 eastern front recreation in the Moscow underground.

  • Alex Taylor says:

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R Alife Smoke and Mirrors ?? Get out of here…..

  • Patrick Hobbs says:

    My understanding is that the secret morality system also affects how the ai works (to an extent). The dog-like monsters on the topside have a pack mentality. If one becomes aware of the player, they'll alert the others. If you stick to silent weapons and travel stealthily like you're a nature photographer, you'll be able to avoid a few of the combat sequences. You can choose to not shoot a "lookout" creature or you can hide when you hear a howl and the pack of monsters will simply pass by.

  • Baptiste Blanchard says:

    Pro tips : throwing knives one shot almost any ennemy in the game, and can be taken back on their body. When you master them, most of the game becomes really easy. It also works on monsters, if they didn't notice you yet. The instant they notice you, it's like their health is behavioring differently, like a scripted thing.

  • Dragoxk4 says:

    Crazy, I just bought the entire metro series the day before yesterday, and then just now searched ‘the ai of metro’ to see if you’d done a video on them (because I’ve fallen in love with them). What a world

  • Jodeth says:

    Nice review. I really enjoyed the first two games. I've yet to play the new one. Just waiting for it to come to Steam.

  • Marshall Prescott says:

    One of my favorite aspects of this game is how adjustable the difficulty is. I wish more games had a Hardcore mode; where both you and the enemy are basically glass cannons. It adds great tension. I also really like the guns, and how they feel.

  • Vladimir says:

    Metro 2033 is disgusting, it not only generally poorly made game, but also extremely offensive toward Russians.

  • f1refly says:

    Metro 2033 is an amazing game. This is mostly because the novels are beautiful masterpieces (if you don't read the second, that is). The Mutants knowing exactly where you are originates from the novels. The idea is that humans are smart, but without the fancy tech they rely on they have very limited sensory input, hence it's easy to trick them with stealth and distractions. Beasts on the other hand aren't very bright but the mutations caused them to develop superior senses, so they alway easily spot their human way before it knows they're around. In the novels, a small pack is almost guaranteed death to a squad of hunters, let alone a single one. They turned that down a bit to preserver playability, but it's not too far off.

    The Metro series tuned out better than my wildest expectations after reading the books. The best experience available is, in my opinion, the ranger mode in metro: last light. Having no hud, counting your own bullets and living in constant fear of your light turning off is the most immersive experience i've had in any game so far. I highly recommend anyone to play it for himself, even if it's rather hard.

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