There’s a current trend in gaming for ‘remasters’, definitive editions or in the case of Metro ‘Redux’ due to us being so early in the next generation of consoles. While it’s true that in some cases, such as The Last of Us, Sony highlight many PS4 owners didn’t own a PS3 and therefore missed out on Naughty Dog’s masterpiece, it’s also a pretty damn good way for game studios and publishers to cash in on already existing titles.
Enter 4A Games Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light Redux, sporting improved graphics and additional game modes (and gameplay tweaks) which it hopes will tempt you to part with your cash. I must say, before we get into the comparison as a whole – I am very impressed with the Metro Redux’s pricing. Both titles come on a single Blu-Ray (or are part of a digital download if you opt for such on the PC) and if you’re in the UK available for slightly less than thirty pounds, which is a bargain given the ratio of gameplay per GBP (or dollar) you’re getting.
We’re going to be breaking this down into two comparisons, this one which focuses on the original Metro 2033, and the second which will be the focus of Metro Last Light Redux. Arguably, 2033 Redux is the more impressive of the two, because it was further behind Last Light in technology compared to Last Light. Largely improved lighting from global illumination are just one example, but we’ll discuss those as this analysis and comparison continue.
Speaking about the Playstation 4 version first, we’re pleased to report that the title is indeed running the native resolution of 1920x1080P, and maintains a virtually constant 60FPS throughout. This improvement alone provides a large visual boost over the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Metro, which ran at 1152x640P on the Playstation 3, and while the Xbox 360 managed a slightly improved 1280×672 is a far cry from full 1080P glory.
The tricky part when it comes to console vs PC comparisons is always the graphics settings, and this is never more true than the resolution. If you’ve a rig that can handle it, technically you could employ downsampling from 8K, turn on SSAA and profit with a completely smooth image – but in reality few have the amount of GPU grunt to achieve this. Metro supports SSAA as Auto, .5x, 2x and finally 4x. Higher levels are going to eat up performance. For this end, we’ve decided to use 2x SSAA in Metro 2033 Redux, and AAA in the original PC title. Another decision we’ve had to make during benchmarking was whether to include Nvidia’s Hardware Physx in our tests, after much internal debate we’ve gone ahead and checked the “advanced Physx” box. We wanted both PC versions to look their best, and it also serves to see if there have been any improvements with the implementation of hardware Physx. We’ve set the native resolution of the game to ‘1080p’ and all other settings at their highest.
While in our Tomb Raider Playstation 4 vs PC comparison we were of the mindset that calling the next generation iteration of the title the ‘Definitive Edition’ was perhaps a little strong. Sure, there were better facial details, improved TressFX (even over PC) and a few other things, but the title lacked Tessellation, inferior Anti-Aliasing, at times worse lighting… in other words the two versions were a toss up. This is not the case with Metro 2033 – in our humble opinion, the vanilla version of Metro clearly loses out to the next generation console outing. Graphically there are numerous improvements to the lighting, models and dare I even say it – textures, and the additional gameplay enhancements certainly help out too.
There are clear concessions with the console version of Redux – Anti-Aliasing falls to the task of a Post-Process AA, which does a reasonable job at eliminating ‘jaggies’ from the image. That’s not to say that the Post Process is perfect, and as is often the case with FXAA or similar techniques, the coverage isn’t always even. Areas with higher contrast can (for example, lightning flashes) can look a little ‘ropey’. There are also slight issues with shimmering or slightly strange geometry. A broke white frame can be seen around some doorways and objects against walls, and while they’re certainly present in the PC version (even with SSAA x2) it isn’t quite as noticeable. Given the choices between 4A Games lowering the internal resolution (to say 900P) or possibly targeting a lower frame rate, and the second option of using 2x or 4x MSAA, we feel they’ve made the correct choice.
Character models then, eh? First thing that will strike you if you’re either watching both versions play side by side (so, ya know… watch our videos), or if you’ve played one version then the other are the character models. Both the PS4 and PC benefit from improved character models, which feature nicer animation, higher levels of facial and body animation and overall just feel a lot more natural. I have to say that if you’re looking super close, the newer models aren’t quite up to the standards of the newest titles out there. Considering Metro 2033 is around four years old now (which, in gaming terms is pretty old) what they’ve managed to achieve with the models is pretty impressive. However – it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, there are some models that simply haven’t been updated and can look somewhat out of place (particularly if they’re standing right next to a model 2.0 character).
Fortunately the next generation consoles are outfitted with a lot more RAM than say the PS3 or X360, which lends itself to improved quality in the world. That being said, when you compare the raw GPU and CPU horsepower of the consoles it goes without saying neither Sony’s or Microsoft’s machine can match up to a high spec PC. Tessellation is an obvious victim of ‘console budgeting’, it is there – but it’s not quite as clear and defined as the PC version.
Both the PC and PS4 versions of Metro 2033 Redux do indeed feature vastly improved lighting. One common complaint with the original release was the lighting often felt a little too harsh, and often left scenes (particularly above ground) washed out of color. Light didn’t seem to effect the mood or ambiance in quite the way you’d expect it too, this would leave certain areas looking rather drab and grey. While the surface isn’t supposed to reflect flowers and rolling meadows, lighting, fire and other light sources had a rather muted impact on the world around them.
Interestingly enough, there are certainly improvements to the games assets. Additional lanterns and light sources dot the levels, extra detail on props, doors and walls. Improved texture detail is often noticeable and rather oddly enough even some interact able assets have been completely swapped out. Within just a few moments of starting the game you’ll come across two examples of these, with the first door you enter having its mechanism failed you need to crank it manually. On Redux, you need to pull the handle first then crank the wheel (the lever isn’t as obvious in the original Metro 2033). The next door you see is left ajar in the original release, but now has a submarine style pressure lock for the Redux. Finally, the light switches in that very room go from a single lever to a series of switches in a junction box. All of this you’ll find within just a the first 30 seconds of gameplay, and I’m cherry picking a few examples.
The main thing to take away from all of this is fairly simple: 4A games haven’t simply gone in with the mindset of ‘let’s increase the resolution and run at 60FPS and charge for a brand new game’. Instead, their goal has been to improve what’s already there, adding fresh gameplay elements (some from Last Light) into 2033, and adding additional increase the level of detail in Redux’s environments.
If we’re talking about pure gameplay additions, it’s not to say that Metro is an entirely different game from the original Metro 2033. As you’ve likely guessed from reading this article so far, there are instead a bunch of little touches which add to the playability of the title. Fairly early on in the game, when you’re going into the tunnels and you’re forced to use your gas mask (if you like breathing that is) in Redux there’s a gas mask waiting for you on the wall, just in case you’re running low (though you shouldn’t be yet anyway). If you’re playing the vanilla experience, the gas mask is missing. While they’re not quite gameplay related, cutscenes have been retouched, often not using the frankly awkward third person camera angle of the original, which is a welcome change.
To provide you a fairly basic text based example of this… In the first ten minutes of the game, during the prologue you’ve got to meet up with your buddies on the surface. After you’ve shot the crap out of various monsters you arrive to the surface, and a rather different atmosphere awaits you. The moon has a rather bright glow, glowing crimson in the blacked storm skies and lightning flashes angrily in the distances, meanwhile your character is battered by rain. After you run over to the meeting point your character will almost be run over by the convoy truck, saved at the last second by your friend, before you’re ambushed by yet more creatures. In the original version, this isn’t quite the case. You reach the surface, and there’s no real obvious moon in the sky, and very little lightning (in comparison) is noticed. The skies also appear much darker, with less contrast between them. Finally you don’t almost get run over (apparently your comrades have gotten worse with their driving skills) and instead the vehicle just pulls up near you.
While none of this might sound a ‘big deal’ when you see it, feel it and experience it in action, or the extra details from debris and rocks, the extra fog, mist and smoke as you slowly approach an ominous looking opening in the already creepy passage, mushrooms and fungus dripping goo everywhere, and your character and their friends discussing they can hear voices – it all lends itself to suck you into the atmosphere of the Metro universe, and in the end isn’t that the point?
There are a few weaker areas in the environment which persist, even after the update. While the game clearly isn’t sporting the tropical forests of say Far Cry, the occasional hardy piece of vegetation remains in the wasteland, and it looks worse than what it could. Though it waves about to get your attention (in a not too convincing fashion), it doesn’t look much better than a 2d bitmap – okay, perhaps that’s a little unfair. But in comparison to the rest of the landscape, the vegetation is certainly the worst. Not the random mushrooms and fungus you’ll see in the Metro itself, but more the withered remains of the grass on the surface. This isn’t the only title that has problems conveying realistic vegetation, and likely won’t be the last. With some luck, AMD’s TressFX or Nvidia’s Fur technologies will help with this in the future… providing the consoles have the grunt to use it that is.
Frame Rate of Metro Redux:
When developers boast they’ll be running at a solid 60FPS, you always have niggling doubts if their claims will be backed up by reality. In this case, 4A Games have managed to push the Playstation 4 version of Metro 2033 Redux to 60FPS throughout. Even during times of chaotic shooting, blasting away at enemies with not a care in the world to our own personal well being, that of our comrades or indeed even our precious ammo counter, the frame rate would just cling to 60FPS locked for dear life.
This is extremely impressive, particularly when you consider the game isn’t the same experience as Metro 2033, which bought both consoles and PC’s to their knees back in 2011. This sports larger improvements, and despite the GPU pumping out a massively larger percent of pixels over the previous generation, manages almost double the frame rate and a great deal more graphical effects.
Metro 2033 Redux PS4 vs PC Conclusion
If you’ve not guessed by now, we’re very impressed by what 4A Games have achieved with their own ‘Remastering’ of their beloved franchise. We’d be so bold as to say that it puts many remasters and re-releases to shame in the amount of additional detail and gameplay tweaks compared to the original. It’s also a great pity other studios don’t follow suit when it comes to the vastly reduced price compared to a standard release. Both the console and PC versions of the title are far far cheaper than a regular game.
Now there’s two parts to this conclusion – so bare with us. When it comes to either the PC or PS4 version of Redux vs the original Metro 2033 (even the PC version at the highest settings) Redux takes it, with ease. It’s not that the original version of the title looks ‘bad’, perhaps a little dated compared to modern FPS titles, but certainly not bad. It’s the exact opposite – Redux has so much additional detail that it makes the original title seem rather dull. Additional ground debris, better particle effects, nicer tessellation, improved Anti-Aliasing, better character models and animation, improved lighting – and much more is all present and happy. The original titles textures have also been cleaned up, given additional details and honestly, the extra scene details and lighting alone give certain areas a lot of extra atmosphere. Tunnels appear spookier, and the surface that much more evil and inhospitable looking.
Playstation 4 vs PC version of Metro 2033 Redux is a little harder to call. On a high end GPU (for example, a GTX 680 or so) you’ll not really have a problem running at the highest detail settings, and likely could turn on higher levels of Anti-Aliasing. If you’ve a more modest rig, and can’t employ all of the graphical settings to their absolute limits then you’ll have an experience that’s more comparable to the PS4. With that said, I don’t want you to think I’m insulting Sony’s iteration of Metro. 4A Games have proven a great point – that Sony’s machine is a powerhouse when you consider the price point.
The title runs at a virtually 100 percent solid 60 FPS, all at 1080P too. The Post-Process Anti-Aliasing does ruin the overall look slightly (and we do mean slightly), and the lower levels of tessellation and overall compromises to the highest PC settings means that the PC version does take it. But if you’re going to buy the PS4 version then you certainly shouldn’t feel slighted by the version you’ll be playing – in fact you should be damn proud of it.
If you’re the owner of a good PC (medium to high end GPU) then you’ll have a better visual experience than your console owning brethren, all while maintaining a very solid frame rate throughout. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how a Remastering is done.
The real question perhaps for many is if you’re already the owner of the title (or both) should you pick it up? If you own it on the PS3 / X360 then the answer is a resounding yes. Double the frame rate, a massive bump in pixels, improved gameplay – if you liked the original game it’s well worth a second playthrough. If you’ve played the PC version of Metro 2033, particularly if it was close to the games release back in 2011, then I’d still say yes, go ahead and pick it up. The narration, story telling, gameplay and graphics have all been improved. Unlike some remasters, many of the frustrations of the original have been removed or revamped.
I’ve no problem recommending either version, the PC iteration being superior yes, but if you’re a console gamer you’ll still be in for one of the best titles out there for your system right now.
Buy Metro 2033 Redux
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