I tried playing this series on the PS4 when the first two games came out and I literally had to stop each time. For some reason, those games would give me a headache each time I played them. No other games have really done that to me, it must be something with how frames are being rendered or perhaps the motion of the character or something like that. So I ended up just selling my disc version and kept it moving. I have not tried the PC versions but it might be hard going back to the older games after finishing up this one.
I did, however, decide to give the series another shot on the PC with Metro Exodus. It seems like a massive upgrade in the game engine and I could throw around some ray tracing to make things look extra spicey. I’m sure I sacrificed a good deal of frames for the added graphical effects, but that’s a part of what makes me tick.
This game started off a little weak and gradually got better as it went along. The wide open world(s) that you go to in the beginning were a bit hit and miss for me. I really didn’t like the first area where you can get on a boat, but then creatures from the water keep attacking you, I just didn’t see a need for all these dumb monsters to be there. I preferred the more linear areas that happened later in the game, it felt more structured and kept the game and story moving and a nice pace.
A big part of this game are the enemies, and this is another area that I had some issues with. I didn’t like the bug creatures, which there are a few varieties of, they just weren’t that fun. The sand human things that blend in with the environment and pop out if you get near were pretty neat and I did like that. The combat just felt better when I was going up against the human enemies. I did end up killing a lot of them, even though I think there are ways to take a more passive approach to combat. I’m sure a killed a few more people than was necessary. This is an issue I have with most first person shooters that go into bug enemies, they usually aren’t fun to shoot since they’re running around on the ground and you have to aim down to hit them.
The weapons of the game are all fantastic to shoot and feel nice. It took me a while to actually realize that when I got to certain work benches that I can swap out my weapons, that made me feel like an idiot. I enjoyed the trad-off of having to pump your BB rifle gun with it’s cheap ammo and it was especially satisfying at the end of the game when you got the final upgrade for that weapon. The rifles and shotgun all felt good to light enemies up with. The guns in the game were one of the main reasons I kept wanting to get back in and continuing on with my adventure. I wish I had more opportunities to spend with the sniper rifle, but I ended up only using it for a small section.
The story really started to grow on me as the game went on. Once you got out of the wide open areas and started really making your push forward, the pace of the storytelling started to ramp up and pulled me along with it. I became attached to characters that I first thought were assholes (not sure if I made that up in my head Colonel). Your little family of travelers slowly grow larger as the story progresses, along with the personal events happening to the main protagonist, Artyom. The one big issue that I noticed right away, which is one of the biggest pet peeves that I have, is the silent protagonist. I just don’t get why they chose to go this route. It’s such a dumb concept and they need to just stop this. If Artyom talked throughout his journey and perhaps had a radio friend with him when he’s alone, or just chatted with himself it would have made the atmosphere a lot richer. What’s idiotic about this is that they have a voice actor for Artyom! He does little narrations on the loading screens, so it makes no sense.
I played this on my new PC, which did just fine with ray tracing on, along with everything else running on my ultra-wide monitor. The issue wasn’t with that, it was with how buggy this game is, don’t get it twisted, I never crashed a game as much as this one. Certain parts would just crash over and over at the same moment, and you’d just have to try to walk around differently and hope it wouldn’t crash the next time, which I had to do. It wasn’t just crashing the game either, I couldn’t even get to the task manager to kill the application on some occasions, I had to actually log out and back in to get it to stop. There are little bugs as you play also, like bodies in T poses and weird audio and visual things. I had this one bug where I’d shoot an enemy and they’d light up their environment like a Christmas tree around them. I think that one was because of the ray tracing, the characters were sending out rays of light that where flickering all around them in a really obvious and low quality way.
The graphics are a large draw for this game. Some of the vistas in this game are just stunning. I made heavy use of screen captures as I explored this burned out Russia. The diffuse ray traced lighting was something that I didn’t expect to notice that much, but it really does stand out. It makes areas of dark fade together with other objects around them, which is what it should do. The thing is, is that as a gamer you’re not used to it, so it forces you to use your flashlight and night vision goggles to see objects on shelves and things like that. You’re used to the shitty rasterized lighting that we’ve all become accustomed to, where items on shelves just stand out because of the cheap ambient occlusion map applied to the screen. Honestly, it kind of annoyed me at first but I learned to love it because of the realism it brought to the game world.
The best part of this game were some of the gun fights I got into, where I was just nailing my headshots and taking guys out one after another, it really made you feel like a badass when that happened. That feeling of combat and the last couple hours of the game are what really drove home the whole story for me. I wont spoil the ending but I kind of wish they spent a little more time with it, only because I liked the characters and wanted to see their story play out some more. It was emotional and hit the right notes, just glad I got the “happy” ending.
A solid first-person shooter that harkens back to the story driven shooters of the past. I’d recommend that if you start playing and the opening areas aren’t your thing, to skip the side stuff there and push through the story, it’s well worth the play through. Just hope they do some serious patching to the PC version to fix the crashing.