I know this tunnel, and it knows me.
10 years ago, 4A Games and THQ released a video game adaptation to Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same name which received favourable reviews. Sadly, it failed to make its way to the PlayStation 3, but in 2014 Metro Redux was released for PlayStation 4.
Having only ever played half of Metro Last Light, I decided now was the perfect time to experience the entire series right from the beginning (also, at the time of writing this, Metro Redux was on sale so why not give it a go?).
Metro 2033 Redux Review
Before you start playing Metro 2033, the game asks a seemingly important question in today’s video game landscape, what difficulty do you want to play on?
There are the standard settings, named Normal, Hardcore, Ranger or Ranger Hardcore in Metro 2033. But, interestingly you can also set a game mode.
Spartan mode offers a regular FPS. You can play the whole game by shooting your way through every encounter without worrying about managing your gear or health. There’s nothing really to say about this mode, it’s pretty generic stuff.
Survivor mode is the traditional Metro 2033 experience. Artyom moves, aims and reloads a little slower. Filters don’t last very long and the watch on Artyom’s wrist is analogue. But the biggest feature of Survivor is the distinct lack of ammunition to be found which forces you to value it a little more. This is the mode to play on because every encounter carries a higher risk. You can get through the game by shooting your way through it, but you’ll likely be constantly low on ammunition and health. Instead it’s best to use stealth wherever you can.
While the stealth system isn’t the best, it’s definitely competent. The thrill of sneaking by patrolling enemies and knowing that if you were to be caught, you wouldn’t have the ammo to survive the battle, is truly one of the game’s highlights. Enemies are essentially blind in the dark, which is great because you can turn off/shoot almost every light source in the game. You have to be careful though, because enemies will notice a light being put out or destroyed if they’re stood too close to it. The downside to creeping around in the dark is that it’s harder to spot a tripwire or the makeshift “hanging cans” alarm system in some areas.
Don’t get me wrong, sneaking is great. Really. I love stealth in games. But shooting is so much more fun, right? It’s like a primitive form of therapy, which is ironic because I’m sure cavemen didn’t have AK47’s or Shotguns, but if they did they’d feel the same as we do. Guns are cool and shooting them feels great. In Metro 2033, however, they don’t feel all that great. Now, that might come across as a negative but hear me out. Metro 2033 takes place 20 years after a nuclear war forced humans underground. Access to weapons was almost nonexistent so the inhabitants of the Metro had to use bits of scrap to cobble together a gun capable of firing bullets. So when you fire the “B******”, which is a submachine gun made out of a bit of piping and wood, it feels as janky as it should.
You will be doing quite a bit of shooting in Metro 2033 despite its insistence that stealth is the way to go. There’s an overreliance on defending waves of mutants in some levels which, on Survivor mode, ends up being more frustrating than a tense moment.
Story, Characters and Mutants
I mentioned earlier that a nuclear war forced humans—or at least the people of Russia—underground to survive amongst the Metro tunnels. It’s never revealed what or who started the war and who, if any, were the victors, but that’s probably not important anyway. The important thing is that there IS survivors living in tunnels as the world above them mutates in the radioactive remnants of our past lives.
Artyom was born shortly before the bombs fell and spent most of his life growing up amongst the tunnels of the Metro system. It’s unclear what happened to his real parents, but he lives with his uncle inside VDNKh Station (Exhibition Station). One day a Ranger by the name of Hunter shows up and gives Artyom a postcard of New York City—evidently, Artyom likes to collect things that remind him of the world before it effectively ended. Artyom’s uncle tells Hunter about the “Dark Ones” and how they’re a threat to the station. Almost immediately after this exchange, Exhibition is attacked by a horde of “Watchmen” (I think. It’s hard to tell the mutants apart) and Artyom, his uncle and Hunter must fend them off. Before Hunter leaves for the surface, he gives Artyom his dog tags and tells him that “If he’s not back by morning”, to go to Polis Station and give his tags to the Rangers there. Of course, Hunter never returns.
Shortly after leaving Exhibition, Artyom meets up with a man named Bourbon in Riga Station. Bourbon is an interesting character. He appears friendly, but he has an unparalleled knowledge of the entire Metro and you get the feeling that he’s a dishonest person who makes enemies more than he does friends. Together Artyom and Bourbon travel through the dangerous mutant and bandit infested tunnels to Dry Station whereupon Bourbon has agreed to give Artyom his “Kalash” assault rifle. It’s not long before Bourbon is out of the picture, which is a bit of a shame. I was looking forward to unravelling the mystery behind his character. It’s not all bad though, because as quickly as Bourbon leaves, Khan shows up and takes his place.
Khan is possibly the most unique character in Metro. Everyone up to this point has reinforced the idea of “if it’s hostile, kill it” which is sort of the Ranger motto. Khan, however, urges Artyom to stop and think about his actions and how they may impact his life and the life of those around him. From the start, Khan will make Artyom stop and stand still in the face of danger which leads me to my first real negative point about Metro 2033. Throughout Khan’s level, the game teaches you that you need to be patient and wait for Khan to say it’s okay to carry on. So when Khan climbed into a derelict train car and stood still for a few minutes, I stood with him and looked around waiting for him to inevitably say “Okay, let’s go”. He never did though. Assuming it was a glitch, I reloaded the checkpoint and tried again. Khan stood still and 5 minutes later, we still weren’t moving. I did some Googling and it turned out that I had to use my lighter to burn some cobwebs so Khan could progress through the level.
The game never told me that I could use a lighter to burn cobwebs. I didn’t even know I had a lighter. The game neglects to tell you a bunch of things. For example, you can disarm tripwires, but when you’re introduced to them early in the game, all you’re told is to watch out for them as you see your companion jump over it and run off down a hallway. Naturally, I assumed that’s what I had to do with all tripwires. You can also press the touchpad to bring up Artyom’s journal which will display your current object and a nifty little compass will point you towards it. I didn’t figure this out until 60% through the story. Would have been handy to know all this right from the start.
My other negative point is the mutants. There are “Watchers/Watchmen”, “Nosalis”, “Lurker”, “Librarian” and “Demon” (and a few others that don’t appear too often). Aside from the Demon, which is a huge flying mutant, I couldn’t differentiate from the others all too well. They are all quadrupedal, grey-skinned animals of similar size—the Librarians are more ape-like, however they look a lot like the Dark Ones. They all sound the same too. The only real way I could tell them apart was their attack patterns. Lurkers run in—a little too fast to do anything about—hit you once and scurry off to one of their rabbit holes. Watchers also charge you, but they don’t run off and they often attack in packs. Nosalis get up real close and flail their arms wildly at you, often getting in 2-3 hard hits before you can even turn to face them. The worst thing about all these mutants is it’s hard to know when they’re running up from behind you. This gets really annoying on the harder difficulties.
Demons swoop in and grab you which seems impossible to dodge or counter, but since you don’t come across them too often it’s not too bad.
The humans are the best enemies/companions. They’re predictable and avoidable.
My Metro 2033 Redux Platinum Trophy Journey
In order to platinum Metro 2033 Redux, I needed to do 2 complete playthroughs and a bit of replaying levels via chapter select.
For my 1st playthrough, I chose to play on Survivor Hardcore and focus on collecting invisible “Moral” points. This is a hidden system in the game that changes the ending depending on how many points you have. It’s unclear when you have earned a point and there is no way to know how many you have, but you need an unspecified amount to get the “Enlightened” ending for a trophy. Luckily, there are hundreds of guides that list almost every single encounter/interaction that awards you with on and what to avoid so you don’t lose any of these mysterious points.
There were also a bunch of kill-related trophies for reaching 100 enemies killed with pistols, 200 enemies killed overall and 30 enemies killed with explosives etc etc. But since I knew I was going to be playing through a second time, I didn’t spend too much time with these trophies.
After spending the entire 1st playthrough paranoid that I didn’t get enough morality points, my efforts were rewarded at the end when the Enlightened trophy popped up. Well, onto my 2nd playthrough…
For this playthrough, I would play on Spartan Normal and get the canon ending while also focusing on finding all 51 notes for Artyom’s diary, using chapter select where possible to farm kills with certain weapons and making sure I killed at least 1 enemy with every weapon in the game—including throwables.
One thing that became somewhat of an annoyance a second time around was how much waiting around you have to do. Characters will open doors for you, inspect items on the ground or just stand around talking to one another, and while this made a rather cinematic and immersive 1st playthrough, there is no way to skip these bits and really slowed down my progress on my 2nd run.
I managed to make it to the end, however, and I had successfully found all notes, killed an enemy with all weapons and got all kill-related trophies. The only thing left to do was see the ending and collect my new, slightly irradiated platinum trophy.
Survivor Hardcore run
Spartan Hardcore run
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