Despite strong world building and expert story crafting, 4A Games has always struggled with story expansions to its games. This is especially true with the Metro games, which are based on the novels of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. The second title in the franchise, Metro: Last Light, featured only a handful of measly side missions playing as minor characters. The first expansion to 2019’s Metro Exodus, The Two Colonels, promised an exciting return to the claustrophobic tunnel atmosphere the games are known for, but turned out to be quite short and lackluster. Finally, with Sam’s Story, the second expansion, 4A Games proves it really can make great expansions.
Sam’s Story follows the titular Sam, former U.S. embassy guard turned Spartan Ranger, an elite warrior of the Metro. Having traveled across post-apocalyptic Russia with Artyom and Co. during the events of Metro Exodus, Sam decides to push further east to Vladivostok in the hopes of returning home to California.
The expansion features a new hub location in the form of the tsunami-ravaged city of Vladivostok. It’s a refreshing change of scene for players used to the bombed-out radioactive ruins of Moscow and Novosibirsk. In Vladivostok, it’s no longer necessary to constantly wear a gas mask.
In exchange for safe passage to the United States, Sam must search for reactor fuel for a local submarine under the command of a former U.S. arms dealer. Players will get their hands on a few new weapon attachments and a new pistol and assault rifle, as well as a new piece of equipment called a universal detector, which detects landmines and crafting materials nearby. Players may find themselves ditching the detector, though, since landmines are a seldom occurrence and the device produces a constant, annoying dinging noise whenever crafting materials are nearby, which is almost always when inside a building.
Although it wasn’t hit by a nuclear blast, Vladivostok is still home to new types of enemies for players to face. Along with the bandits and hordes of the zombiesque ‘humanimals,’ which the locals refer to as ‘fuglies,’ players will also have to contend with new types of mutants. The zap spiders, a variation on the main game’s mutant spiders, disable any electronics nearby them, and the fearsome batwing is reminiscent of the demons from the previous games.
While it’s not always necessary, players should still take good care of that gas mask because Sam’s Story will treat players to Metro’s iconic immersive survival shooter gameplay. They will have to scrounge the environment for ammo, gas mask filters (still needed on occasion), medkits, and materials to keep their weapons clean if they hope to survive. Players will of course have the option to decide how they wish to handle each new situation. Will they go in guns blazing, or silently and non-lethally traverse through enemy terrain? The choices available are as extensive as in the main game. Unlike the franchise’s usual protagonist Artyom, Sam is a voiced protagonist and will actually converse with the other characters the player comes across, which is a nice change of tone. It also makes many moments much more memorable, such as when the player can choose to get drunk with a former submarine captain.
Much like the base game, Sam’s Story features the same stunning graphics running at 30fps on console which bring the post-apocalyptic Vladivostok to life. But players on the PlayStation 4 may run into some minor technical problems, such as the occasional texture failing to load on time, or ambient or creature noises being considerably muted compared to other sounds in the game. Some tweaking of the game’s sound settings can alleviate this, but not by much.
On normal difficulty, Sam’s Story can take between seven to eight hours to complete. As the expansion has multiple endings and many hidden secrets that players will probably miss at first, they’ll want to revisit Vladivostok multiple times, making Sam’s Story well worth it for its $19 price tag.
It took a few tries, but 4A Games has shown that it can create expansive post-launch story content with Sam’s Story. The expansion is a unique, enjoyable, and worthwhile addition to the Metro franchise that fans of the game are sure to enjoy.
Featured Image Courtesy of 4A Games