Developed By: 4A Games
Published By: Deep Silver
Category: Action, First-Person Shooter, Horror
Release Date: 02.28.2020
The classic horror FPS has finally found itself on a Nintendo console. Metro Redux presents the shooter in impressive detail and performance on the handheld hybrid even if it occasionally reveals its age. Fans can now take the series with them on the go, where it performs better on the Switch’s native 720p screen. It’s a welcome addition to the console’s growing collection of impressive ports and remasters.
Based on the novel Metro 2033 by Dmitri Glukhovsky, Metro Redux is a double feature remaster of the games Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light, originally released in 2010 and 2013 respectively. The games follow the story of Moscow native Artyom in the year 2033 as the world adjusts to life after the apocalypse by living and traveling around in the underground subway systems. It’s a time where both the darkness and the light carry dangers, and relative safety of the underground is hardly better than the irradiated outside world.
In Metro Redux the player is guided along by short segments in the stories according to a series of diary entries that follow a linear but never-boring narrative progression. Indeed, there’s a nice balance between the quiet moments and loud ones as both games trot along at a pace designed to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting.
Split between horror and action, Metro early on gives the player the option to either fight your way through a situation by unloading every clip in your inventory or crawl through the shadows in an attempt to avoid conflict altogether. If you favor one style of play over another, you’re free to select a different difficulty which limits the number of guns and ammo available in the labyrinth of the metro. Although I personally love a good stealth game, I opted to shoot from the hip and blast my way through enemies in what was some very fun and tight FPS action. I don’t like the lack of a third-person camera in stealth games, but here you’re equipped with a device that reads the level of light, so you aren’t completely hung out to dry. Besides, enemy AI isn’t great. I more than once was able to glide right by their line of sight without startling them.
Which is a good thing, because while playing in handheld mode I had trouble seeing where I was going in the darkness. As a game set almost completely in the tunnels of a subway–occasionally giving you time to put on a mask and run between shadows on the surface–the environments of Metro Redux are poorly lit. It makes sense, especially to conceal some of the poor textures when connected to a TV. Both performance and graphical fidelity noticeably dropped when I played on the big screen. They’re impressive for the Switch, especially for a remaster, but look so much better as a handheld. Unfortunately, load times were long no matter where I played.
I can’t speak to a side-by-side comparison with other versions, but it’s not hard to imagine this edition doesn’t stand up well to more powerful consoles. Regardless, some of the effects and textures of Metro Redux surprised me as some of the best I’ve seen on a remaster or port for Switch. It was only the occasional dialogue and storytelling elements that showed its age. While not bad per se, they were just something I’ve seen before.
The plot was interesting enough but I enjoyed some of the world-building more in the nuggets of information that fill Metro’s apocalyptic world; details like the sight of a pig market, ammo sold as currency, and push train cart systems. Metro Redux shines as the sum of its parts. In gameplay, too, no one feature–be that horror, gunfights, or stealth–dominates the other. They’re more enjoyable taken as a whole. The only exception would be any firefight with the mutant Nosalis, where I felt lucky to land a shot and take one down even at close range.
With customizable weapons, alternative paths to eliminating threats, and a few interesting variables like gas masks and a flashlight that needs recharging, Metro Redux is a complete game. As a remaster, it’s even better, pushing the Switch to its limits in terms of performance and eye candy without ever sacrificing one for the other, so long it’s played in handheld mode. It’s ok on a TV if you have no other option, but if you can help it, keep it in your hands where the Switch works best.