Metro: Last Light
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch
4A Games’ modern classics have made a triumphant portable debut.
Metro 2033 came out at a time when first person shooters were veering more and more into the realm of online gaming, when story-driven single payer shooters like Half-Life were becoming a rarity, and multiplayer games like Call of Duty and Battlefield were ruling the roost. In a market that was starved for games like that then, 4A Games’ excellent post-apocalyptic shooter was exactly what the doctor ordered, and its sequel, Metro: Last Light, was more of the same.
The series has since gone on to expand its horizons with last year’s Metro Exodus, but 4A Games have taken a pause to look back into the past- and they’ve done so by putting remastered versions of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light on the Switch, making this not only the first time that the series appears on a Nintendo system, but also the first time it’s playable on a handheld console.
The results are surprisingly good- which has become something of a trend with Switch ports of third party titles. Games like The Witcher 3 and Alien Isolation have already impressed audiences with how well they work on the Switch, and Metro Redux is good enough to join those ranks. Not only is it a great excuse to jump back into two of the best single player shooters of the last decade, it’s also an impressive showcase of what talented developers can do even when they’re working with limited power.
"Not only is it a great excuse to jump back into two of the best single player shooters of the last decade, it’s also an impressive showcase of what talented developers can do even when they’re working with limited power."
In spite of being a decade old (7 years in Last Light’s case), both these games still look great. A lot of that is thanks to the excellent work 4A Games put in when the Redux versions first released, but what’s even more impressive in this particular case is how good they look on the Switch. They don’t just look good “for Switch games”- it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that in many cases, Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light look almost as good on Nintendo’s console as they do on the PS4 or the Xbox One.
And that’s really one of the highest praises I can give to Metro Redux on the Switch- that it compares so well to other versions of the game. Unlike, say, The Witcher 3, where the port was great but not necessarily the way to go for first time players, Metro Redux does not feel compromised to any significant degree, and if you are someone who’s never played these games before, this is still an excellent way to experience them for the first time. The most obvious downgrade here is the frame rate, which gets cut down to 30 FPS instead of the 60 frames that the PS4 and Xbox One offer, but thanks to how well both games play and how consistently they maintain their frame rates (for the most part), it doesn’t feel like a very significant sacrifice. It helps, as I’ve mentioned, that the actual visuals are great.
That’s especially true if you’re playing the game in handheld mode. While playing Metro Redux undocked does present some issues with insufficient lighting in the darker areas of both games (of which there are plenty), by and large the visuals deserve a lot of praise. From the detail in the environments to the crispness of the image quality, Metro Redux never gives the impression that it’s making any major or instantly noticeable concessions while being ported to less powerful hardware.
"From the detail in the environments to the crispness of the image quality, Metro Redux never gives the impression that it’s making any major or instantly noticeable concessions while being ported to less powerful hardware."
Console mode looks great as well, and though some flaws with textures and smaller details are more noticeable – as they would be, on a larger screen – these are, for the most part, minor inconsistencies that are easy to overlook. Performance is generally great as well, as I mentioned earlier, with both Metro 2033 and Last Light being steady with their frame-rates. I ran into some instances of stuttering (mostly while playing Last Light), but they were fleeting issues that didn’t really have much of an impact on my overall experience.
Metro Redux does have some technical issues though- but they’re not due to the Switch’s limited capabilities, nor are they exclusive to Nintendo’s hybrid. The Metro series has always had a little bit of jank, and things such as facial models and general animations have often been a little rough around the edges in these games. While Metro Redux does iron out a lot of these issues (it did that back in 2014, actually), some of that jank is still in here.
Lip syncing can be weirdly off sometimes, characters sometimes move jerkily and mechanically, and characters’ faces don’t look the best. Meanwhile, there’s also audio glitches that series fans will find quite familiar, and while they did occasionally bother me – especially during the more story-heavy sections – they were by no means game-breaking. If nothing else, at least this is the kind of stuff that Metro fans have grown used to over the years, so it doesn’t come as a shock to the system. The one issue that can be quite grating is the long load times, when can be as long as over a minute at times.
"Performance is generally great, with both Metro 2033 and Last Light being steady with their frame-rates. I ran into some instances of stuttering, but they were fleeting issues that didn’t really have much of an impact on my overall experience."
These grievances, however, don’t change the fact that even in 2020, years on from their original releases, Metro 2033 and Last Light are great games. 4A Games’ talent for telling engaging stories and immersing players in its rich, atmospheric worlds shines through in nearly every moment of the Metro games, and the technical polishing done by the developers has ensured that they’ve aged quite gracefully.
Regardless of whether you’re hankering for a revisit to the post-apocalyptic remains of Russia, or you’re itching to experience these modern classics for the first time, Metro Redux on the Switch is an easy game to recommend. Is it the best version of the game? Not quite, no, due to the Switch’s inherent limitations- but it comes closer to that mark than many would have thought it would, and that’s an impressive achievement in and of itself.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch.
Looks great; Stable performance, for the most part; Metro 2033 and Last Light are among the best single player shooters ever made.
Some jank and familiar technical issues; Long load times.
Two of the best single player shooters of the last decade make an impressive jump to the Switch thanks to great porting work done by 4A Games.