"It's rare that a Studio gets to come back, revisit their work and put the love into it that [4A Games] has into this," said Deep Silver's Huw Beynon at a recent showcase event as he hammered home one critical point - Metro Redux is much more than a simple rezzed-up port.
Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light are two post-apocalyptic survival horror shooters originally released on last-gen consoles in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Metro Redux updates these cult shooters for PS4 and Xbox One, but Ukranian developer 4A Games has admirably done more than simply dial up the resolution.
Metro Redux has been given a "full-year dev cycle," added Beynon, Deep Silver's global brand manager. And while many remakes are handled by alternative studios to their original creators, 4A took on this project themselves - a move which Deep Silver says is crucial in ensuring the updated shooters are "true Director's Cuts".
As the older - and more aged - of the two games, Metro 2033 has received the biggest of the upgrades, largely by bringing many of the improvements developed for its sequel back to the original.
The game has been re-engineered within the newer Metro Last Light engine. This more modern tech represented a significant upgrade for the Metro series, offering superior lighting, scalability, dynamic weather, environment destruction and more - all of which work to bring Metro 2033 up to scratch on a technical level.
With the beefier microchips of the new consoles, 4A Games was able to go a step further and massage in new and more detailed environments including improved snow textures and vegetation that offer a more vibrant aesthetic to the otherwise dark and gloomy shooter. The outdoor levels benefit most from these changes, Beynon pointed out during a gameplay demo, admitting that the original game's 'outdoor environments weren't great'.
The high horse-power consoles afford similar visual enhancements in Metro Last Light, too. Both games certainly look pretty - at least on par with the visuals seen in much of this new console generation's cross-gen games. But visuals are only the start.
Both games have received other significant changes. Beynon explained that 'flow' was an issue with Metro 2033, and the developer wanted to tackle this with a few notable improvements. First, all of the game's formerly third-person cutscenes have been redone entirely in first-person, bringing it in line with the first-person action sequences of Last Light.
This has been combined with new sections added to select levels in the game to help smooth the transition between levels. So instead of a cutscene and load screen, some levels are now bridged with additional gameplay sequences that better carry players through the game. We saw one such new section - players are let loose into a new open-area outside the main entrance to the Library level in Metro 2033, where they take on swarms of enemies in a survival-style shootout.
Other small gameplay touches, such as the formerly Last Light-only ability to wipe blood splatter from your visor, has also made its way back to Metro 2033. It's this cross-breeding of gameplay between the two games that forms the most exciting new feature of Redux. Both games will feature two new modes of play; Survival and Spartan.
Deep Silver acknowledges that some fans of the first Metro resented the faster-paced, action oriented gameplay of Last Light, and sought to bring that original horror style to the sequel with Survival mode.
That said, playing either game in Survival represents the slower-paced, survival horror style gameplay of Metro 2033. For Last Light, this means rebalanced weapons and ammo, slower reload times and more tweaks to help bring the action down a peg.
Spartan mode is for those who preferred the more bombastic action of Last Light, retaining that style in the sequel while apparently upping the ante in 2033 to offer a more typical FPS experience.
With only a short playable demo on offer, we weren't able to properly test each mode and the literal differences they make. But if this new feature delivers what it promises, particularly Survival mode in Last Light, that alone will make Metro Redux well worth a look for fans of the originals.
$50 for two top-notch shooters (or $24,99 each when bought separately via digital channels) is also a pretty good deal, especially when you throw in all the existing DLC released.
While shooters continually go the way of Hollywood, 4A Games dared to offer something a little different with Metro. The series' return with added next-gen sparkle is a welcome one, and with a summer release planned you don't have long to wait.