Available: Now – Reviewed on: Xbox One X – Available on: Xbox / PlayStation / PC
Price – $89.00 – $119.00 (depending on platform / retailer)
The sound of Artyom rasping through his mask as you desperately search the area looking for more filters makes me rush, my heart thumping in my chest. Checking some nearby tables, coming up empty, and then moving round the corner only to run into some well-armed, angry NPC’s further complicates things. As the firefight breaks out, my mask cracks, blurring my vision and causing the laboured breathing of Artyom to turn into a deathly choking. Miraculously, I survive by using a well-placed throwing knife, grabbing a downed enemies mask and finding some filters. I become aware that I’ve been holding my own breath for pretty much the whole time & proceed to let out a massive sigh, somewhere between relief and exhaustion.
Metro Exodus, the latest in the Metro 2033 series from 4A Games, still has that moment-to-moment tension and game-play that really draws you in. What stands out for me is that it’s able to achieve all of this without forcing the player to be literally underground this time around.
If you’re not familiar with these games, then I’d suggest you’ve been missing out on some of the best single-player FPS games of this generation. Based off the books by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro games have always been focused on the antics of Artyom, a resident of a post-apocalyptic society, set in the Moscow underground system. Metro Exodus takes this idea and turns it around, placing you once again in Artyom’s shoes, but taking you out into the wilderness of a post-apocalyptic Russia. Where you once had the crushing darkness & claustrophobia of being trapped in a tunnel network, you now have the eerie, unsettling wildlands of nature after the ravages of war. But, even with a change this dramatic (and for me, it really is literally turning the idea of Metro upside down), 4A have been able to structure the game in such a way that successfully builds tension. When you need to be quiet and get past some guards, you’ll find yourself holding in the odd breath. When you need to take out some people stealthily, you’ll be very gentle with your controller input. I found myself falling into this method of play very naturally, such is the way that this game has been crafted.
It helps that this game looks gorgeous too. Muted colours, shadowing, and a bleak above-ground view of the world, interspersed with just enough optimistic moments to prevent it from bowling over to depression really lend itself to the premise of the game. I was playing it on the Xbox One X with a 4K TV attached and I was very impressed with how it handled visually.
There were a couple of things that caught me out in the game. One would have to be the AI & stealth. It’s not a new issue per se, but generally speaking, as long as you’re in shadow, you are completely invisible. Even if they’re 3 feet away from you, it’s like you don’t exist. You’ve got a handy light indicator on your watch to help you figure out if you’re a target, or furniture at any given time, and if you’re the latter, NPC’s have to literally trip over you to spot you. Mind you, I will admit that it made some really tricky parts a lot more straightforward to navigate for me.
Even with the few issues that the game has, I found it to be a deeply immersive experience, bringing a sense of newness to the series that I didn’t even know I wanted. Like Metro titles before it (and S.T.A.L.K.E.R games, if you look back far enough) I was once again caught off guard by what 4A have been able to achieve with this. It delivers a real sense of a fight for survival in this new world. You’re pitted against nature, against new NPC factions, and against yourself in terms of understanding your own limits. I’m not ashamed to say that I had to put down the controller from time to time after a particularly intense part of a level and just take a break to ease off.
Ultimately, Metro Exodus was able to completely subvert my expectations of a Metro title, giving me something completely new to experience in this now well-established world. I was really surprised about that and it was successful in drawing me in to the deep story and world that this game offered. Whilst it’s not perfect and some of the games issues are as old as the series itself, it’s still a very good game and one that is well worth a playthrough on any system that can run it.
Score – 9.1 /10