PC Gamer

Nuclear weapons, other than being a terrible real world threat to our continued existence, are used in games a heck of a lot. Some games treat nuclear weapons as horrific, real and a part of their fiction, while others, mostly strategy games, use them more frivolously. In any case, ever since the end of the Cold War, they've been a fixture of PC gaming when it comes to themes and set pieces.

Here, we explore the different ways PC games present nuclear strikes—from the horrifyingly real to, well, whatever Command & Conquer is. 

Fallout 3

Everyone who played Fallout 3 remembers Megaton, the town built around a nuclear bomb. As a player, you face the choice of deactivating it or blowing it up. I blew it up, mostly because I found Megaton to be a bit of a nightmare to navigate. And I wanted a nice apartment in Tenpenny Tower. And I wanted to see what it looked like when it went off. Is that so bad?

Alright, yes it is, so much so that Liam Neeson dad expressed his disapproval later in the game. But it also gave me a moral arc for the rest of the story, as I relentlessly tried to earn good karma to balance out this one terrible deed. And the game, to its credit, makes you feel the weight of the decision you've made. —Samuel Roberts

Civilization 

Nukes are a mainstay in Civilization, but it was Civ II's nukes that chilled me the most as a young man—mostly because I think that 10-12 is probably the age I worried the most about nuclear war. As an adult, with easy, cheap access to alcohol and many additional things to worry about like property ownership and that persistent pain in my side right now, it doesn't haunt me quite as much. While it's not captured in the video above, it was the air raid siren sound effect that made them particularly scary in Civ II, followed by the skull icons left on the map afterwards. Somehow, moving tanks into the target city afterwards didn't feel like much of a victory, which was probably the point.

That said, Civ's atomic weapons gave us the (now slightly overplayed) 'nuclear-loving Gandhi' meme, so that's something I guess.—Samuel Roberts 

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

As nukes go, the first Red Alert's were actually a little underpowered, in that they'd murder all the infantry in its radius but do tiny damage to vehicles and buildings. You were mostly better off blowing that cash on some mammoth tanks or allied cruisers instead. Red Alert 2's were a little more harrowing and destructive—underlined by the bright lighting effect, followed by a radioactive green aftermath. And when paired with a Soviet nuclear reactor or five, as illustrated in the video above, the destruction gets out of control.—Samuel Roberts 

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Pandemic's decade-old Mercenaries 2 (which is still available on Origin, minus multiplayer functionality) doesn't have much to recommend it beyond amusing explosions and throwaway action, but it commits to those two things extremely well. The Nuclear Bunker Buster is required to complete one mission of the game, and can later be unlocked for general use for $1 million, which seems pretty cheap to me. Look how powerful it is!—Samuel Roberts 

World In Conflict

Nukes are used to dramatic effect in World in Conflict’s campaign, which addresses some of the terrible consequences you’d expect from the fallout of such a bomb. While on the one hand dropping the bomb is a serious and grave decision, on the other hand the game had some sweet new volumetric lighting to show off and as a result the nukes look incredible. The initial white-out resolves into a pillar of smoke that creates realistic god-rays if you angle the sun just behind the cloud.—Tom Senior

Supreme Commander

Nukes are a vital part of Supreme Commander’s tactical ecosystem, to the extent that there’s an option to turn them off completely to free up each army from having to constantly deter them. While the nuke/counter-nuke economy drain could prove overly limiting, they are still spectacular and destructive weapons. When you destroy a commander, they almost always go nuclear, and often destroy their own nearby units in the process. The video above shows the Seraphim nuke from the Fallen Alliance expansion, which is even prettier because it’s blue.—Tom Senior

DEFCON

You would expect a game entirely built around a worldwide nuclear arms race to have impressive explosions, but DEFCON shows them blooming in cold near-silence. The death toll of the city flickers up next to the pure white explosion to really rub it in. It’s a really neat effect if you like feelings of icy dread and/or the movie WarGames.—Tom Senior

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

The nuke in CoD 4’s campaign was a shocking moment at the time. Now the actual explosion itself seems pretty low-tech, instead it’s the shockwave that really communicates the forces involved. Nearby choppers are flung around like flies and your vessel goes into a deadly tailspin. After the crash you’re greeted by a glimpse of the fiery hellscape of the aftermath. It’s grim, but one of the most effective attempts to simulate the effects of a nuke in any game.—Tom Senior

Metro: Last Light

Metro competes with CoD 4 for the most harrowing moment in this list, and it's one I still remember vividly five years later. You explore a downed plane in Metro's irradiated overworld, and flash back to the moment the nuclear weapons hit Moscow in the game's alternate history, as the bomb's EMP blast takes out a passenger aircraft. It's nasty and all-too-real, but then this is why Metro's world building is so effective. 

After watching that again, I could do with writing something light. How about we just list PC gaming's best dogs next time? —Samuel Roberts

Metro: Last Light

Were you excited by the announcement of Metro Exodus at E3 this week? It looks like a beautiful yet deadly not-so-open-world game, however it's not out until 2018. To tide you over until the release date, you could check out the two previous games in the series, Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light. You can grab them both in the Metro Redux Bundle at Bundle Stars today for 75 percent off.

Based on the novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Metro games are set in a post-apocalyptic world where survivors in Russia fled to the Moscow underground system. Outside there are mutants, and inside are rival factions of survivors getting a bit violent. It's a bit of a no-win situation, really. 

The price cut takes the bundle down to £6.24/$7.49, down from the usual price of £25 / $29.98, which it is on Steam right now. Individually the games run you £15 / $20 each, so you're looking at a great deal here. Back in 2014, we really liked the Redux versions of both Metro games

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 

PC Gamer

I hate underground levels. Tunnels, sewers, catacombs. They always feel like filler to me. A way for a developer to cheaply extend their game. But one of the most impressive things about Metro: Last Light is how it consists almost entirely of dingy subterranean passages, and yet is one of the prettiest, most atmospheric games on PC.

On a technical level, developer 4A s engine is capable of some incredible lighting and particle effects. But more importantly, its artists are great world-builders. You see some impressive sights, like the shattered skyline of what was once Moscow. But often it s the smaller details that are the most evocative.

In one of the many settlements protagonist Artyom visits, I saw a man making shadow puppets for a group of children. He shows them a dog, then a bird. But they don t know what they are, because they were born into a world where such things no longer exist. In fact, they think the bird is a demon. I also love how the people who live in the metro keep pictures of the pre-war world by their beds. Photographs of parks and lakes. Although if I lived down there, I wouldn t want a daily reminder of a world that s gone forever. These tiny glimmers in an otherwise completely hopeless setting are a great example of Metro s fantastic world-building.

On a grander scale, the level Echoes sees Artyom exploring the remains of a crashed jet on the surface. Climbing into the fuselage and seeing rows of people still in their seats skeletons frozen in time is a haunting moment. It s not as subtle as some of the other apocalyptic imagery you see on your travels, but still effective. The surface is used sparingly, which makes every trip there feel almost like a treat.

One of my favourite cities in the game is Venice, which is built in a flooded tunnel. This has created a series of waterways through the settlement, which the residents use as canals. When Artyom first passes through he sees a makeshift gondola float past with a couple on board being serenaded by a man playing an accordion. Slightly silly, but gives you the sense that people are making the best of a bad situation.

I don t like the game as much as the setting, though. There are some great set-pieces, but also a lot of frustrating ones. 4A really loves making you wait for something to happen, like an impossibly slow ferry to arrive, as waves of bullet-sponge enemies rush you. And the less said about the boss battle in the dreary Undercity level the better. It s ultimately a pretty average FPS, but the desire to see more kept me playing.

One of my favourite levels is Regina , in which Artyom takes an armoured railcar through a series of mutant-filled tunnels. It reminds me of Half-Life 2 s coastal highway section, giving you the ability to stop the car whenever you like and explore. I think I enjoyed this part because it felt so much freer.

What I really want is a Fallout-style RPG set in those tunnels, with lots of talking and exploration. It s such a fascinating setting I think it deserves more than a linear shooter. But I also understand that 4A is a small team with a fraction of the budget of Bethesda. The very fact they made something as polished and beautiful as Last Light with a fraction of the resources of a larger developer is hugely impressive.

PC Gamer

When 4A Games announced Arktika.1 as a VR-only title last week, many feared that it signalled the studio's departure from a) the Metro series and b) traditional non-VR development. The good news is, at least where the latter is concerned, is that the studio is working on two titles.

According to a new post on its website, 4A creative director Andriy Prokohrov addressed those who were disappointed by last week's announcement. "Arktika.1 is one of two projects in development right now," he wrote.

"It s not holding the other project up with our new Malta studio we are a much bigger team, and it is better for us to have multiple projects, for our own independence and creativity. We re not ready to talk about the other project just yet, but we think you ll like it. So please be patient!"

Who knows whether that unannounced project is actually a Metro game, but according to a possibly-no-longer-accurate 2014 interview, the studio was working on a more sandbox-oriented title. "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," Chief Technical Officer Oles Shishkovstov said at the time.

As for Arktika.1, the studio promises that it'll be a "full-blown AAA title" and that it's scheduled to release mid next year. For more on that, check out Andy's report from last week.

PC Gamer

GOG has added some Saints Row, some Darksiders, and a Metro game to its lineup, all of them completely without the hassles and headaches we know (and really don't love) as digital rights management. And to mark the moment, it's got them all on sale, too.

First up is Saints Row 2, now on for $4 instead of the regular $10 price, and Saints Row: The Third—The Full Package, which includes the main game and a pile of DLC, for $5 instead of $15. Then there's Darksiders, currently going for $8, and Darksiders II, which is $12. The Darksiders II Complete DLC pack is also up for grabs for $8.

Finally, there's Metro: Last Light Redux, and this one strikes me as a bit odd, because Metro 2033 Redux is nowhere to be seen. Licensing issues are sometimes a problem with GOG releases, but Deep Silver hold the rights to the entire franchise, so if it can do one it should be able to do both. Technical issues, maybe?

Whatever the case, Metro: Last Light Redux is on for $12.50, which I'd say is a really good price for a really good shooter. All five of the new-to-GOG games are available now, and will remain on sale until May 18.

Update: The mystery of the missing Metro hasn't exactly been solved, but it has been acknowledged, and there's a chance the game will turn up at some point in the future. "We cannot say exactly why it s been released this way, since this is related to discussions that are under NDA," a GOG rep explained. "But we sure hope that we will be able to bring Metro 2033 Redux to GOG in the future."

PC Gamer
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.

PC Gamer
Metro: Last Light


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.
PC Gamer
Photo via Sergei Klimov: @sergeiklimov
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."
PC Gamer
Metro Last Light redux 1


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.

Details
Expect to pay: 17 / $25 (50% off if you own the original)
Release: August 29th
Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Multiplayer: None
Link: http://enterthemetro.com/
PC Gamer
Metro Redux - Preview 1


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.
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