WHY I LOVE
In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Tom savours the tactile excellence of Metro's machinery.
If you're into atmospheric FPS games and haven't played Metro 2033 or Metro: Last Light then you're in for a treat. These maudlin shooters are set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that's driven humanity into the Moscow metro. The series is largely set in these gorgeous tunnels, dripping with irradiated gloop, inhabited by strange misshapen creatures and tolerated by a populace of hardened grumps.
Both games are beautiful—especially since 2033 received the Redux update—and both use the transition between underground and overground areas to pace your journey through the wasteland, exposing you to a series of carefully framed scenes of extraordinary destruction—a crashed airliner in the rubble of a skyscraper, a huge concrete wound that exposes the mangled platforms of a once-buried station. It's hard to compress the strange cocktail of melancholy and amazement these scenes inspire into a single phrase. Let's go with "misery-awe".
Metro is so effective because it uses its props to embody you in its world. Metro's guns are creaky analogue things that need to be cranked and punched into working order. Your keep your light alive by pumping the handle of a manual battery. Your pneumatic rifle uses a little circular meter to let you know how much power it has in the tank. The dial is rusted and wobbly, and the little dial inside looks like it would quiver convincingly if you gave it a flick.
You're always seeing your hands manipulating your gear, and these animations sell the heft of these rusted old weapons brilliantly. Everything seems oddly robust, as though assembled by a pragmatic hand. It feels like the designers know how each gun or tool works, and could almost build you one if they had the right parts. There's a terrific machinegun that sends the clip horizontally through the body of the gun. You don't need a fancy ammo counter or UI device to know how many rounds you have left, you can just count them.
The gas mask might be Metro's greatest triumph. You need it to breathe the deadly atmosphere on the surface, but wearing it is oppressive. The entire soundscape becomes muted and your breathing becomes loud and harsh. As your filter wears out, you start to choke. The scratched visor becomes damaged as you fight, and can be dirtied by blood and radioactive dust. There's even a button that lets you wipe it down, with a perfect little plastic squeak of course
It's one of the most reactive and tactile objects in games. You can tell it's effective, because it's a real relief when you're finally allowed to tear it off. Even thinking about it makes me want to take a deep breath and be glad of this lovely breathable air. Metro could do the same for you, too. I recommend it.
The Metro and Stalker games are incredibly atmospheric post-apocalyptic shooters, but where Stalker is set in a sprawling open world, Metro is a far more claustrophobic and linear experience. But it sounds like Metro developer 4A Games might just be aiming for something a little more Stalker-like in its next game.
In a lengthy interview with Eurogamer, 4A Games Chief Technical Officer Oles Shishkovstov talked about "the performance differential between Xbox One and PlayStation 4," the difficulty of developing for multiple platforms, the strengths and weaknesses of different APIs and all that sort of thing. It's good stuff if you're into that sort of thing, but the really interesting bit, at least for me, came around the midway point when he was asked if he could talk about what the studio is currently working on.
"For the game we are working on now, our designers have shifted to a more sand-box-style experience - less linear but still hugely story-driven," he said. "I will not go into details, but it requires some work from programmers as well."
It's only a couple of sentences and nothing more is said about it, although to be fair, it's a Digital Foundry interview focused on developing for the new generation of consoles. But the possibility of an open-world Metro game is incredibly exciting. And it's also the sort of thing that 4A Games might actually do: It was founded in 2005 by former members of GSC Game World, the studio that created the Stalker franchise.
Photo via Twitter user @sergeiklimov
Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games announced in May that it was relocating its headquarters to Malta, which "offers fantastic incentives for game development" as a member state of the European Union, which its homeland of Ukraine is not. And while it wasn't mentioned in the announcement, ongoing unrest in the country was no doubt also a factor in the decision to pull up stakes. But a statement released by studio chief Andrew Prokhorov makes it clear that the decision to leave wasn't an easy one.
"Dear motherland, this morning we're leaving you for some time," Prokhorov wrote in a Facebook post translated for Polygon by Sergey Galyonkin of Wargaming.net. "Not because we don't love you, but because we have to otherwise 4A Games will cease to exist it's really hard to get investors while we're at war with . We can understand publishers, but our hearts are sorrow and we feel like betrayers, because we're leaving our country in turmoil. We're not betrayers, we love you, Ukraine and we'll have with us a new part of Ukraine in not so distant Malta. 4A Games Malta is a Ukrainian company."
He concluded with a message that was initially seen by some as provocative, but which Galyonkin clarified is a "traditional" phrase in the Ukrainian military: "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes! Death to enemies!"
With the Malta relocation complete, it's unclear whether 4A's studio in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev is still in operation. The initial announcement of the move said it would remain open and even expand, but the conflict is growing worse and Prokhorov's statement has a distinct feeling of "farewell."
Aug 20, 2014
By Jem Alexander.
The reworked version of Metro 2033 in Metro: Last Light's far superior engine makes perfect sense. It offered a chance for 4A Games to go back and fix a ton of things that have been bugging them. To act on lessons learnt from their mistakes the first time round.
The Redux version of Last Light is pretty much the same game as last year.
And so, here we are. Facing a re-release of a game little more than a year old. A re-release that offers little extra to PC gamers whose rigs were up to the task of running it the first time, that looks almost identical to the version you played last May.
In fact, where Metro 2033 Redux is a lovingly improved version of the original, Metro Last Light Redux is little more than a GOTY version. It includes every piece of DLC released to date and some of the additional weapons have been integrated into the single player story.
Visually the games are practically the same. I played the original and the Redux version alternately, chapter by chapter, and found it easy to forget which version I was playing at any given moment. Not to say that Metro Last Light Redux is bad looking. As I say, the original is less than a year old, so it's still a fantastic-looking game. Which is why it doesn't need a remaster.
With so much special attention given to Metro 2033 Redux however, Last Light Redux isn t nearly as essential by comparison. Which is fitting, since it's also the worse game of the two. It's a fine shooter, but fans of the original's survival horror feel were disappointed by the sequel's focus on bombastic combat and boss fights over survival and atmosphere.
A new "Survivor" mode does its best to recreate that feel of Metro 2033 by making ammo more scarce and enemies more aggressive, but it feels little more than an attempt at a quick fix solution. Your mileage may vary on this. Some of you may prefer Last Light's feel. For those that want it, there's a new "Spartan" mode available in Metro 2033 Redux which emulates Last Light's combat system. Be aware that I will judge you for using it.
It makes sense for Metro Last Light Redux to exist on consoles, with locked 60fps framerate and higher resolution being the main selling points. Obviously this doesn t really impact PC owners. If you've not played Last Light before then Redux is worth picking up. It saves you some money over the original version, but if you already own the game there's very little to draw you back and buy it again. Unless you really want another set of Steam achievements.
Expect to pay: 17 / $25 (50% off if you own the original)
Release: August 29th
Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
In the world of video games it's just one outrage after another until you just wish Flanders was dead. This time people are upset about the pricing for 4A Games' forthcoming Metro Redux package, which includes both Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light. The former is a huge overhaul of the 2010 original, while the latter doesn't differ greatly from the 2013 shooter, though all DLC is bundled.
Of course, people who already own both games aren't happy that they'll need to pay again, despite 4A Games offering a 50 per cent discount to those who have either game in their Steam library. The controversy got so heated in the Steam discussion forums that it prompted a "blindsided" 4A Games to release a (rather lengthy) statement justifying the price.
"Almost the entire team of around 80 people at 4A Games will have been working on the Metro Redux titles for almost a year by the time we release next month," the statement read. "It has been a substantial project for the studio, with three main elements."
The studio went on to list the substantial new features, including engine additions such as global illumination and terrain tessellation, among other tweaks. Metro: Last Light will get some "minor" new features like a Check Watch and Check Inventory, as well as a whole new game mode. Finally, transferring Metro 2033 to the new engine, along with the new content and assets, was no small feat.
"We think the 50% discount is more than fair for the amount of work that has gone into this title," the statement continued. "It is a complete remake of the original game in the latest engine, that will offer a significantly different experience from the original throughout with improved graphics, performance and gameplay."
The studio's full statement is over on the Steam forum. A before and after trailer released last week, showing how the new edition will size up next to the old games.
It may be premature to declare that before-and-after comparison videos are all the rage, but hot on the heels of yesterday's Project CARS trailer comes something similar for the upcoming Metro Redux. Major visual updates to both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light are at the top of the menu, but there's a lot more to it than just a new coat of paint.
The video initially focuses on visual improvements to the console versions of the games, which will now be able to provide the same level of visual fidelity as a high-spec PC on the originals. Contemporary high-end PCs will still have the advantage in Redux, however, through support for 4K resolution and a wide array of graphical enhancements.
But the really interesting stuff is happening under the hood. The AI is improved, and features that were previously exclusive to Last Light, including better stealth gameplay, weapon customization and non-lethal takedowns, will also appear in 2033. New secrets, hidden areas and encounters have been added, and previously separate locations have been "seamlessly stitched together." Two new play modes have been added, Spartan and Survival, and Ranger mode is now available in both games.
I was a pretty big fan of the Metro games when they were new, so I was sold on the Redux release pretty much from the moment I heard about it; if it's possible, I think I'm ever more sold now. Metro Redux launches on August 26.
Jun 24, 2014
It s another good day to be a PC gamer (isn t every day, though, really?) with a new set of Steam Summer Sale deals to pad your library for the long hot days of hiding inside ahead. If nothing has caught your eye yet, there s still another weekend to go, but we re pretty happy with today s selection they re not all brand new, but between the heartfelt Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and the vast wasteland of Fallout New Vegas, there's a few hundred hours of amazing and diverse gaming at a deep discount.
Don t forget to check out GOG s summer deals, too.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal.
5 - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
80% off: $2.99 / 2.19 - Steam store page
There are a lot of great stories in games, but few are as affecting as the one here, a story about two brothers traveling a dangerous world to save their father. The characters you meet are painted in broad strokes, but each one has an endearing quality the scene with the ogres is just delightful. It s not just a great story, though: the puzzles in Brothers, and how you solve them by controlling both siblings at the same time, are a joy to solve, even if they re not particularly difficult. It s not a long game, but it s a great four-hour journey for the money.
4 - The Blackwell Bundle
90% off: $1.99 / 1.49 Steam store page Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
This is an absurdly good price for the first four Blackwell games a series of noir adventures about a psychic detective and her decidedly dead partner. What makes the series worth experiencing is its refusal to fall back on traditional adventure puzzles. Progress is rarely about what you've picked up, but rather what you know. Information is a tool to be used, and investigation reveals new leads and ways to overcome your problems. Beyond that, there's a dramatic story played out between likeable characters; a story that slowly escalates in impact up to the (non-bundled and less discounted) fifth and final game. You can grab Blackwell Epiphany for 40% off.
3 - Torchlight II
75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page
Let s celebrate choice: Diablo III has improved a lot since launch (the Auction House closes today, by the way), but here s one of our other favorite action RPGs, and you can currently buy eight copies of it for the price of one Diablo III. We don t know why you would do that, but hey, Steam gifts are a lovely way to show a friend you care.
2 - Metro Last Light Complete
66% off: $6.79 / 6.79 - Steam store page
Metro: Last Light is still one of the best-looking games on PC, and it s our go-to game any time we want to see how well a PC runs. But it s also a great shooter, with a few stealth sections that work better than you d expect. It s also surprisingly sad: it s not often that a first-person shooter will move you as much as post-apocalyptic Moscow does. This Complete edition also adds all of the released DLC for the game, including the single-player focused Chronicles pack.
1 - Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
66% off: $6.79 / 5.09 - Steam store page
Wandering the wasteland is one of the best parts of any Fallout game, and New Vegas collected edition here gives you a lot of wasteland to cover. The base game feel more like an open, living world than Bethesda s version of a post-apocalyptic D.C., but the collection of add-ons five in all makes that world even denser. Factor in the thriving mod community on Steam Workshop and you could be living in that wasteland for a long time.
Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further later in the sale.
Nidhogg (66% off) $5.09 / 3.73
Gone Home (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74
Spec Ops: The Line (67% off) $9.89 / 6.59
Syberia Bundle (90% off) $1.49 / 1.09
Jun 22, 2014
Just when you thought you were out of the Steam sale racket, they pull you back in - today's crop boasting some delectable bargains across a variety of genres, including the pork-bunniest game of recent years.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal. Also, GOG.com are having their own, equally terrific summer sale at the moment, so be sure to check that out too.
5 - Lone Survivor
75% off: $3.74 / 2.74 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
One of the best Silent Hill games you'll play - and a better Silent Hill game than Konami have published in the last ten or so years. The story is dreamlike and ambiguous in the best possible way, while the chunky pixel art and atmospheric soundtrack envelop you as soon as you switch the game on. If you're brave enough to face it - and you remembered to bring an energy drink - Lone Survivor is easily worth the price of a large cappuccino. Head here for the full PCG verdict.
4 - Metro Last Light
66% off: $6.79 / 6.79 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
Some odd exchange-rating aside, this is still a good price for the mostly great Metro Last Light, which managed the heroic feat of rescuing the first game's abysmal stealth and turning it into something that works. In addition to being a solid shooter and stealth-'em-up, this is a pretty good atmospheric horror and action game too, although the plot is something that will largely pass you by (if you're lucky). You might want to wait for the remastered 'Redux' version of this and its predecessor, however - although there is a discount system in place should you want to upgrade at a later date.
3 - Sleeping Dogs
80% off: $3.99 / 2.99 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST
If Watch Dogs left you cold, you could always give the relatively silly (but still a bit nasty) Sleeping Dogs a try, which puts you in the role of an undercover cop in Hong Kong. Brawl with bad guys, eat pork buns by the truckload, and solve police cases on the side in a scrappy open world game that's never too ambitious, but manages to be a lot of fun anyway. We didn't think much of the "messy story and horrible characters" in our review, but we had time for the game's "scintillating open world city". 2.99 seems like a very fair price.
2 - Tomb Raider
75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page
Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot isn't without its problems - most of the cast are forgettable, and it's a more linear and shallow game than fans of the originals might have been expecting - but as fairground rides go, this is meticulously and gorgeously staged. Play it to prepare yourself for the recently announced Rise of the Tomb Raider, in which Lara's hopefully brought along a coat, as well as a flannel for all that blood she finds herself swimming through.
1 - The Wolf Among Us
66% off: $8.49 / 6.45 - Steam store page
Creaking engine aside, Telltale have come a long way since the days of their pretty good Sam and Max series, so it's a relief to see that their good work on The Walking Dead wasn't a one-off. The Wolf Among us, based on the Fables comics, is overall just as deftly written as the tale of Clementine and co, although Telltale have been a fair bit slower in putting them out. You probably shouldn't read our reviews if you want to remain unspoiled, but know that we've given the series a (very gruff) thumbs-up.
Other great deals today
Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further.
State of Decay (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74
Monaco (67% off) $4.94 / 3.95
To The Moon (70% off) $2.99 / 2.09
E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy (75% off) $2.49 / 1.74
Year Walk (50% off) $2.99 / 2.39
Deadly Premonition (75% off) $6.24 / 4.99
Legend of Grimrock (66% off) $5.09 / 4.07
Betrayer (80% off) $3.99 / 2.99
Outlast (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74
First it was rumoured, then that rumour was confirmed, and now it's been officially announced. Metro Redux is a real thing and, for us PC gamers, it's also a bit of an odd one. It takes the two Metro games and bundles them into a re-released and upgraded package. We're no strangers to HD reboots, but neither game is particularly old. In fact, Last Light still looks rather good.
Were I a cynical jerkface, I might suspect that this package was created as a response to the PS4 and Xbone's lack of backwards compatibility. Fair enough, but it does make it a stranger prospect on the more timeless PC. That's doubly the case when one of the big features is "silky smooth 60fps". Er, yeah, just like the originals, then?
There are still reasons to be interested, not least that transferring Metro 2033 into Last Light's engine will make a fairly big difference to the way it looks and feels. In their press release, Deep Silver promise the following features: "advanced enemy AI, improved combat and stealth mechanics, superior weapon handling and more responsive, intuitive controls plus signature features from Last Light such as the atmospheric mask wipe mechanic, weapon customisation, and silent kills and take-downs."
Last Light will be less dramatically upgraded, but will still get new features, better graphics, and will be released with its DLC packs bundled in.
Expected to release this Summer, each reduxed game will be available individually for 16 / $25, or as a bundle of both for 35 / $50.
I am just now catching up with Metro: Last Light and am beating myself up for not picking it up earlier. 4A Games post-apocalyptic, subterranean world feels much bigger than what any one game could explore, which is why I m happy to hear it s opening a new studio and working on more Metro games.
4A, which is based in Ukraine, announced that it s new studio will be based in Malta. "By basing our new headquarters in Malta, a member state of the EU, 4A Games will be able to better compete on the international stage" CEO and Head of Business Dean Sharpe said. "Malta offers fantastic incentives for game development, and we are confident 4A Games will be able to attract the very best talent from Ukraine, Malta and beyond."
4A said that Creative Director and Co-Founder Andrew Prokhorov and Chief Technical Officer Oles Shishkovstov will relocate to Malta, and continue to recruit for both the Malta and Ukraine studios as they expand.
Best of all, 4A also confirmed that it continues to work on unannounced titles within the Metro universe as well as further, unannounced projects, powered by their cutting edge proprietary tech, the 4A Engine.
That 4A Engine is really amazing, by the way. If you haven t played Metro: Last Light, you should at least watch a video of it captured with dangerously powerful Large Pixel Collider.