Metro 2033 4-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - June 17, 2014
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I can still remember when Metro 2033 first came out and how many people were describing its graphics as beautiful and capable of bringing many computers to their metaphorical knees. After four years the game does still look quite good, but has some blemishes that can jump out at you, especially if you are used to the graphics of more modern games.
Light is very important in this game, which makes sense as much of it is spent underground with artificial and luminous organisms being the only sources. Gun flashes also can illuminate the world around you, if only briefly, and that definitely adds to the character of the world. The mist that hangs in the air and catches the light though may do the best job of setting the environment as something you are not supposed to be in.
The shadows are mostly very good, but can be a little soft in some places, and suffer from LOD in others. Nothing quite like seeing low resolution shadows becoming sharp to remind you that you are playing a video game.
One thing I noticed in this play-through is that some character models are reused. Expect to see some faces throughout the metro, with different clothes beneath them.
When you visit the surface, the toxic air will require you wear a gas mask, which does impact the graphics. The most noticeable will likely be the cracks in the glass. There are always going to be at least two on the screen, at the top and bottom. As you take damage though, these cracks can grow and make it much harder to see and shoot.
Because of your breathing, moisture will also collect around the edges of the mask, distorting your peripheral vision. Depending on the quality of your mask's filter, the amount of moisture will vary, which is definitely a neat cue for swapping the filter as it is used up. The effect swapping the filter can have is impressive, with how far the moisture can extend from the edges.
The textures of Metro 2033 are largely quite good, but there are times and places that they can look stretched and blurred. For the most part, this will not be all that noticeable, but it is still the case. The models however are definitely showing some age with edges just looking hard at times. This is more noticeable than the textures, but nothing ever looks bad, at least as far as the models are concerned.
Animations are a different story, especially for the enemies. The animations for human characters are fine as they are, but enemies can react very oddly when they die. Instead of "rag-dolling" to the floor, some enemies will become rigged upon death, and just tip over, and that is something I just could not help but notice. Other enemies do collapse appropriately, though not always with the mass one would expect.
Water does a very good job of distorting what is beneath it, but I cannot say I ever noticed it being distorted by objects moving through it. It does have an issue with how the distortion is applied though, as objects not beneath the water can have the distortion applied to their edges. As this is not something unique to this game, it is easily forgiven.
Fire and explosions are somewhat mixed, with explosions looking good while fire is obviously pre-rendered and just pasted on top of the burning materials, when you start it. The billowing smoke from flamethrowers also does not look that great, being much blurrier than I would like. To be fair, these fire effects are actually pretty uncommon in the game. Most of the time if you see any fire, it is in a pit trying with people around it trying to keep warm. They also act as light sources then and do a very good job of it as well.
Though actually very situational, some objects in Metro 2033 are destructible. For the most part it is doors that you may have to break through in order to progress. When the wood breaks, it tends to fall apart in unnaturally large pieces, as they were break-away props in a television show from the sixties. Not exactly pleasant to the eye.
Time for my computer's specs and performance:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
- PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
Being four years old, you would expect that a computer with such modern hardware would have no problem playing the game smoothly at maximum settings and with an impressive framerate. Sadly that is not the case. At maximum settings Metro 2033 had an average framerate of around 30 with stuttering up and down. If you look at it, you would expect much better performance. The best answer I can think of is that the engine was not very well optimized at the time, so now it is not able to take advantage of newer hardware as one would hope. Of course that is only my own guess, but I suspect it is not far from the truth. The Redux version will be using the newest version of the 4A Engine, so performance will likely be much better on modern hardware.
As bad as it may sound, the gameplay only once really seemed to suffer. Thirty frames-per-second is playable and even when it stuttered up into the forties or down into the twenties, it was still playable, but obviously less beautiful. Really the biggest annoyance with the framerate was the screen-tearing that occurred somewhat frequently. I had V-sync turned on through the configuration files, but it did not appear to help much. When I tried forcing it through the drivers and running the included benchmark, performance actually decreased, so I turned off that option.
One thing I often mention in this part of the graphics section is that I turned off settings like motion blur or depth-of-field as a personal choice. Motion blur cannot be toggled on and off so easily in Metro 2033 (it is switched according to presets) and even though there is an option for Advanced DOF, I decided to play with both turned on. The reason is simply because I wanted to see this game I have played on two previous GPUs (an HD 5770 and a GTX 570) at max settings on my current hardware.
For the most part, these effects actually looked okay, but there were some issues. The motion blur actually succeeded in making it easier for me to follow enemies with my eyes, because of the distortion that was applied to them, so I have no real complaints about that. The depth-of-field however was definitely annoying at times, for two reasons. One is how often it was applied to objects close enough that they should be in sharp focus. The other is how it would look like a blur filter was just being pasted on top of the moving object, and nothing around it. This would make the blurred object stand out in contrast to the sharp objects around it. Also, sometimes, parts of the blurred object would not be blurred with the rest of it.
When just looking at objects in the distance, the depth-of-field looked and felt great. The troubles were only with closer objects that are moving relative to myself.
Overall, the graphics of Metro 2033 are somewhat mixed. It still does have the quality it did at release, but modern games are matching and surpassing it making it less impressive. For the setting of the world and game, there are no complaints. The performance does leave something to be desired, and that is largely optimization. I did find it to be playable without great issues, but it did have a lot of smaller issues.