Metro Redux on Nintendo Switch allows players to experience Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light like never before. With Russia transformed into a post-apocalyptic dystopia, where the surface air is toxic and mutated monsters will feast on the innocent, civilians and soldiers have resorted to living in an underground society, travelling via a complex metro system. As Artyom, a young man who has been raised underground for his entire life, venture through the hostile underground civilisation and return to the surface in order to warn those unaware.
The two titles in Metro Redux are certainly difficult games. You will die… a lot. The idea is to be patient, preserve your ammo and search every room and body around you. The difficulty dictates how much ammo you will come across, as well as the mutants and enemies you find along the way.
It doesn’t stop there, however. When on the surface, you need to keep your gas mask on and avoid taking damage to ensure your mask doesn’t break. You can explore every nook and cranny for Filters, but you also want to be time-aware as exploring for too long can have the opposite effect.
The weapon selection and customisation is an aspect to be praised. Not only are there the standard weapons that you’d expect from a first-person shooter (e.g. revolvers, automatic machine guns, rifles, etc), but you can also customise attachments by buying them or picking up enemy weapons that have other attachments already connected. However if you were so inclined, you could simply take the ammo, which is a crucial aspect of the game.
Above all else, this is a Metro Redux Switch review and as such, it is difficult to recommend these games for this console. The reason being is that due to the game’s difficulty, its lack of motion controls for fine-tune aiming and frantic action in a 3D environment, the Switch’s Joy-Cons actually make it difficult to provide the best possible advantage. The small buttons, the right joystick situated lower than usual and small buttons makes a hard game even harder; sure you can play it docked with a Pro Controller but at that point, you might as well have bought it on a more powerful system. I can only see the Switch version of Metro Redux being appealing to longtime fans of the series who are well acquainted with it and simply want a version to take on the go or for those who do not own another system aside from a Nintendo Switch.
Aside from regular difficulty levels, you can either play in Survivalist or Spartan mode; the former being a mode that focusses on conserving your ammo and the latter being more of a charge in guns-blazing approach. Each mode gives the player the freedom to play in the style that they wish whilst also adding replayability if you were to attempt both approaches.
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There is a lot of rumble in both games, but I wouldn’t call it HD Rumble. The Joy-Cons/Pro Controller vibrate a lot, but it’s similar to what you’d find with a PS4 or Xbox One controller where it doesn’t provide any type of specific feedback. There is also no touchscreen, which would have been handy for the interface, as well as no gyro controls which could have assisted when holding down the ZL trigger to aim. These lack of utilisations makes the Switch port a lot more basic than one would have preferred.
World / Level Design
There isn’t much to differentiate one section from the next, so it all becomes a big blur that will get confusing after a while. The mission objectives can also be quite ambiguous in the first instalment and whilst this was touched upon in the sequel with a compass, a lot of it is to make your way to a certain spot and kill or sneak around enemies along the way.
Checkpoints are designed to avoid the player needing to repeat sections of the game once they have made it so far, however I experienced some checkpoints that didn’t activate, resulting in sending me back to the beginning of the chapter and a lot of frustration.
The plot takes place in a post-apocalyptic Russia with an intriguing supernatural concept. The games like to show rather than tells with little cutscenes not in-engine. That being said, a lot of story beats are either too frequent or too infrequent, with dissatisfactory pacing.
Graphics / Art Direction
Metro Redux is best played in a dark room on a big screen; taking it on the road in handheld mode makes some scenes difficult to make out, especially when hordes of mutants are coming your way. Most levels will have you underground in dark areas with nothing but your flashlight. As the Switch’s screen is very reflective, I often could barely make out what I was seeing on screen and that was on maximum brightness which also sucked the battery of my Switch quite dramatically.
The game looks fine on the TV, but it’s about what you’d expect. As Metro 2033 was initially released a decade ago, it isn’t a game that has aged well aesthetically. It’s serviceable, but the realistic ‘brown’ games from the PS3/Xbox 360 era look muddy and unappealing by today’s standards.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack isn’t particularly a standout, with the games putting more emphasis on the rustic surroundings. However when there is music, it is not mastered well with it generally being much louder than dialogue. I absolutely recommend adjusting that in the Settings menu right away. The dialogue voices also often speak over the top of each other, turning important plot points into nonsensical hubbub.
Final Score: 70%
Metro Redux contains two great games, but they are not ones that should be recommended for Switch unless it’s the only system you own. Unlike other third-party ports like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the like, these games do not thrive in handheld mode and should only be played in a dark room in front of a big screen TV.
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