For those of you who don’t know the background to the Metro games, let me give you a brief history.
Metro 2033 was released back in 2010 across consoles and was the first title in the Metro universe; games which were directly based off Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same titles. 2013 saw the follow up of Metro: Last Light. The games are set in the ruins of Moscow after a Nuclear War and see any survivors camping out in the underground metro (hence the title). They have always been praised for their horror elements within the games due to the mutated creatures you find along your way.
Metro Exodus is the latest incantation of the series; again based on Dmity’s novels, but this time we see our hero move above ground in the search for other survivors. Artyom is sure that there is other survivors in the world even though others doubt that fact and Exodus is based on his journey above ground to prove himself correct mainly to his wife Anna, but to others as well. Of course this journey uncovers a mass cover-up that has been going on unknown to most.
Throughout the inception of the game, AIR Entertainment have tried to keep you all updated with the various press releases that we were kindly sent by our friends at Koch Media, but now we can finally bring the review to you.
I have spent a lot of time playing this game, now unfortunately a lot of that time was spent waiting for levels to load as the wait times on this game are horrendous. I get that there is a lot of data to be loaded in between levels, but having to wait over 60 seconds for loads is a bit much and it did start to put me off from continuing my journey at times. This seems to be a common issue for everyone, but if you can be patient then you are in for a treat within the game itself.
Once you get above ground from the Metro, the scenery is amazing. Both previous releases were great for their tight spaces crawling through sewers and dealing with mutations that shared those tight spaces with you, but 4A Games have gone above and beyond the Metro (pun intended) with the open world.
There is a strong dialogue within the game as the story plays out, so this is something you will have to get used to, but it did start to get slightly irritating as Anna (your wife) basically spells out the entirety of what is happening and what is about to happen. I think the main issue for me was the Voice Acting for Anna. It just wasn’t believable enough to give her those lines within the game to allow it to play out. I would have been happier if they just stuck to the Voice Over that presents itself, as it always has with previous titles, on the level load screen which explains where you are going to next and for what reason. That being said, the story is brilliant for the game and you can switch off to the annoying wife barking orders at you and trying to be right all the time which is what us men do on a daily basis right?!
Metro Exodus has now moved to a much more open world experience over the older titles and I was worried that this may take away for the great titles that have been. Thankfully, it didn’t. The missions you are given throughout the game sees you being able to take them on from various angles rather than following a set route and the mini map on screen as well as a handheld map which you can bring up when needed allows you to plan ahead and this also gives you choices within combat found in the game. You can choose a stealthy approach to areas and sneak up on enemies or of course, you can go in all guns blazing, but be warned, Ammo is in relatively short supply the harder the difficulty level you choose to play.
Now, as you play the game I did find the lighting a little dark for me, and even when you do go into the games settings it struggles to lighten it up much. A point which was proven as well when you start to mess about with the photo editor within the game, a great touch. There are a whole host of options with the editor to be able to add various filters over the picture you want to save, a lot of which do lighten the graphics up nicely, I just wish I could have played with those lighting effects. I think 4A Games still had their heads firmly stuck underground and their eyes had not adjusted to the abundance of light above ground. This is especially noticeable when you take a look at the horizon and the view which presents itself to you in the distance. In photo mode when you lighten up the screen that horizon looks amazing, but within the game it is all too easily missed and it’s a pity.
Gunplay comes into the game very early on as well as the wealth of customisation options that you have. Previous titles have also offered customisation for your weapons but Exodus has added so much more than there ever was. It can take a little time to understand the customisation menu for your weapons, but once you get used to it you can make a really powerful weapon that you will be dropping enemies in one shot. In the image above, there is a nice scope fitted to the rifle which is great for distance kills, but the gun itself is useless close up which is where you need to plan ahead and take a second weapon that can be used to greater effect close up. These customisations also change how a weapon feels. You can use a handgun pretty effectively but then start to add a few extra parts to it and the recoil can be difficult to control in the heat of battle. Then you also have to clean your weapons along the way as they will underperform the dirtier they get and you will start to notice it in the guns behaviour and the last thing you want is to be stuck when a horde of Mutants start to attack you.
One of the great things about the open world in Metro Exodus is the usage of boats which are scattered around and having to paddle them to your next destination as there is no other way to reach these areas. Don’t think you are safe in them as you aren’t. There are a number of underwater creatures which will attack you and you can see the wake the cause on the water, but you will never know when they’re going to attack and what is slightly lost from previous titles with regards to tight space horror is slightly regained. I still had a few jump scares when one of these mutants attacked.
In previous titles, the air above ground was largely unbreathable and you had to make use of a gas mask, constantly swapping out filters before you started to breathe in the radioactive fallout. Early on in Exodus you discover that the air is perfectly safe above ground so you can cope without. As the game is a FPS it’s nice not to be running around all the time with your vision impaired by cracks in the glass in front of your eyes as well as rain drops obscuring your vision. However, the mask is still there as there are certain areas that you will need to use it. It adds to the tension of tight spaces when you need to use it, but allows a much better field of view above the surface when you don’t have to rely on it all the time and for me this is a great part of the game, switching between the two sets of environments well as well as bringing back that claustrophobic feel that I feared may be lost.
The very start of the game sees you escaping your home on a train which you soon name The Aurora with a small band of members. This then serves as your mobile home as you travel the land in search of your final destination. I loved how you do start to feel a strong bond with your fellow characters as it is such a small space and the conversation does grow very nicely on board in between destinations. At first the game does feel rather slow as you search the landscape on missions, but the further you go, the more the pace ramps up until you finally reach your final destination. The last chapter of this game is one you don’t want to miss. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, but you are exposed to the full horror of the apocalypse in amazing fashion.
Once you manage to get past the awful loading times within the game, it is amazing. It’s easy to play as a standalone title, but for the full experience I would highly suggest picking up the previous 2 titles and playing them in order if you haven’t already. Luckily they have been released on current generation consoles as they were initially released on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
8/10 for the game for me. I have been a fan of the entire series and this release is the icing on the nuclear fallout as far as I’m concerned.
**PLEASE NOTE: AIR Entertainment were kindly given a review copy of this game and in no way has this influenced my feelings on the title as per our Review Policy**