The redux edition of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light bring graphics and performance improvements, along with minor gameplay changes and enhanced modes. Basically, both games can now be played in Survival or Spartan mode. Survival is, shall we say, Metro 2033 mode. Ammo is scarce and the survival aspect dominates. Spartan is Metro: Last Light mode, with more ammo and items available and emphasis in the combat scenes. Once you’ve chosen the mode, you can choose the difficulty.
I didn’t know Metro: Last Light put so much emphasis in combat and I chose Survival mode, to be played in Ranger Hardcore difficulty the same way I enjoyed Metro 2033, and I believe it was a bit of a mistake. Metro: Last Light is supposed to be played in Spartan mode, clearly.
From my point of view, Metro: Last Light is a couple of steps below Metro 2033, even if both received similar Metacritic scores. The story continues that of Metro 2033 with the “bad” ending. It’s a bit disappointing, but the main problem is that, as a sequel, the story is a bit worse and the game has lost part of that novelty brightness Metro 2033 had. The game would benefit from deeper character development. The game universe has also changed a bit and, as I mentioned, the combat aspect receives more emphasis compared to the survival aspect, which changes the mood of the game to something less original and more mainstream.
The redux editions of Metro, including Metro: Last Light, make several mistakes in Ranger Hardcore mode which are hard to explain. Ranger Hardcore is supposed to be realistic in some aspects, like the absence of a HUD, but this is taken too far or, shall I say, implemented incorrectly. People have complained about the lack of prompts in quick time events, or how you can’t be sure which grenade-type item is currently selected, with the only clue being a sound effect. I don’t think that adds anything to realism. Only to player confusion. In a realistic scenario, you would clearly know if what you have in your hand is a throwing knife or a grenade. A HUD icon should temporarily pop up when changing the item, even if it doesn’t tell you how many items are left in the inventory, with that action needing to bring the diary up, as with other ammo.
Compared to Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light also introduces mini-bosses or boss-like fights at the end of some levels, and some of those are harder than expected, in my humble opinion, due to gameplay issues. For example, there is a fight in a swamp where the miniboss appears several times throughout the level, before the final appearance that starts the boss fight. Only in that boss fight the boss will take damage, as far as I know. In Survival mode, ammo is scarce and the player has no clue (s)he’s wasting ammo while shooting the boss before the final encounter. Any ammo wasted on those appearances will be less ammo for the real fight. That part of the game could have been designed better. I was becoming frustrated with the fight until a web search revealed this to me, and the recommended strategy is to restart the level and flash past it, picking everything up and arriving at the boss fight with lots of filters and ammo. This is what I had to do in the end.
Most gameplay elements are kept the same, though. There are some new weapons but you can still customize them, barter at outposts and all the classic Metro elements are still there, like ammo used as currency.
Metro games have always given the the impression that, while their graphics are good, there are many other games in the market that look better using less resources. Yes, the lighting, ambient, texture and sound work are very good and provide a unique atmosphere and universe. Human settlements in the game are still recreated with lots of everyday life details, and convey the sadness of the postapocalyptic world those people have to live in.
The light and its combination with texture work, in particular, match the game perfectly. If somebody ever makes a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game again, it would benefit from having indoor graphics as the ones in Metro. But one is left to wonder if 90% of that look and feel could be achieved with half the hardware resources. The new versions of the engine and the Redux editions fix this problem, but only partly. It’s still too demanding for what they provide, in my humble opinion.
My recommendation is to pick the Metro Redux bundle in Steam during a sale, and play Metro: Last Light in Spartan instead of Survival like I did. You’ll have fun if you like FPS games.