Sunday, March 1, 2015

Game Review - Metro 2033 Redux and Metro Last Light Redux

Game Review - Metro 2033 (Redux) and Metro Last Light (Redux)
Score: +5/-11
Summary: Tightly scripted linear first person shooter. Story line not very good.

++- Graphics are very good except for somewhat plastic-looking stock characters. However, they are overall intensive on the computer for not a lot of gain: For example, there are a lot of miscellaneous static debris that still adds up to processing needs. (On a computer with the same specs, Metro Last Light Redux is even worse, and suffers from objects "blinking in", presumably as objects and textures are loaded too late.)
+ For a character who doesn't talk at all, the story is quite clever to make his choices believable. All "talking" is done through journal entries to give you insight into what the protagonist is thinking.
+-- Some very smoothly integrated cutscenes, but with little warning when control of your character is lost or regained. Because of the already minimal UI, you don't always know how much you can control your character (Can you shoot? Move? Look around?). In some cases, you have to act during what appears to be merely a cutscene but is actually an interactive scene. Problem is, you don't know without trial and error, or looking up a walkthrough.
- Some area transitions (going through doors) are 1-way without any warning or reason to be. Some areas look like you should be able to jump or get to, but are blocked, reducing overall intuitiveness.
- People that walk through you -- a frequent occurrence in settlements. Enemies that can move through terrain barriers like barrels and fences (fortunately not often).
- Several suicidal combat scenarios made survivable only because your companion(s) cannot be killed. This diminishes immersion and sense of player achievement.
- Poor story pacing. For a tightly linear story, too much time is spent on filler combat levels. The result is that it is easy to lose sight of your mission as well as any sense of urgency. The short side-trips amount to just a bit of extra exploration, and except for a couple of events, rarely give any real return on time investment. Further, the default difficulty where resources are scarcer dissuades this sort of exploration, which defeats the purpose of presenting them at all.
+ Creepy ghost scenes that are very nicely done. Worth playing through just for these if you like suspense-horror without gore or actual violence.
-- Really lousy endings for Metro 2033. Unsatisfying endings for Last Light. For example, the two Metro 2033 endings are:
  • The canonical ending (the one used by the sequel, Metro Last Light) is implausible as the enemy already knew he was on the way to blow them up and there was more than enough time to either stop him or do some sort of evacuation into the Metro, which can apparently survive nuclear attack, especially when radiation and pollution are not dangers to them.
  • The alternate "good" ending is also implausible as it does not address the ongoing threat to the character's home and makes for an implausible choice. Also, the enemy's claim to want peace is also implausible considering their ongoing hostile actions.
-0 The sequel, Metro Last Light (Redux) also loses points for having only limited reference to what you did in Metro 2033. For example, they use as the canonical ending is the default or "bad" one where you blow up the Dark Ones. Since this could be attributed to lacking or being unwilling to commit the time and resources to present alternate references and storyline, I point it out but do not count a full negative point.
- Too-tight scripting. Some scripted scenes completely take over your character regardless of your personal ability to control the character, but in Metro Last Light, this feels more severe. For example, in one hostage scene, you can:
  • Take off your gas mask as the enemy demands.
  • Shoot the enemy in the eye with a sniping rifle (or whatever gun you have).
  • Move closer to the enemy.
But ALL of these choices have basically the same result, except that if you take off your mask, for unclear reasons once the enemy is gone you do not bother to put it back on and start choking and suffocating. In the other two choices, your gas mask breaks, but throughout the entire game, the consequence of a broken mask was never as severe as the cutscene suggests.
Finally, even if you shoot the enemy in the face / eye / whatever, they survive and flee unscathed.
Whichever choice you take, the consequence is so implausible that the game loses credibility.
Also tiresome is constantly being surprised when opening doors.
- The heavy-handed scripting also leads to some very bad scenes where you have to figure out what the developers want you to do. This was worse in Last Light as various enemies that are invincible due to the necessary continued presence in plot points -- except you don't know when they are protected and in the meantime you might burn through all your ammo. For example, to defeat the tank boss, you have to shoot, in sequence, the rod connecting the wheels, then the wheels, then the turret -- but why can't you just shoot the turret to begin with? How is shooting the wheels a necessary prerequisite for taking out the turret?

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