When 4A Games’ Metro 2033 came out back in early 2010, I was presently surprised. The game achieved a great balancing act of story, gameplay, and presentation. It introduced new gameplay mechanics that I had never seen before in a game (many of which carry over into Last Light), and there were some genuinely tense moments throughout. The game also had an incredible atmosphere to it.
Metro 2033 was not without its shortcomings however. The game was littered with numerous bugs and glitches, and there were a ton of problems with the A.I.
If you have never heard of the Metro franchise, the series is based off of very popular Russian novels authored by Dmitry Glukhovsky. The stories tell of a post-apocalyptic Russia where people are forced to live in underground Metros because the surface above them is polluted with radiation (and other baddies). Both Metro 2033 and Last Light are first person shooters, although not in the typical sense.
Does Metro: Last Light right the wrongs of its predecessor, while continuing to engross the player with the story of heroic Artyom? Find out below.
Metro: Last Light takes place one year after the events of Metro 2033. In the original game, depending on the actions you took, you were either awarded with a good or bad ending. Metro: Last Light follows the events of the “bad” ending. The Dark Ones are all but gone and Artyom is living his life in the Metro. He gets word that there is one surviving Dark One left alive and because of his “connection” with them, he must go and find it.
What follows is a tale of redemption, betrayal, fear, hope, and love. That last sentence sounded a lot cheesier than it should have been. However, Last Light does touch on all of those themes, and does a fantastic job doing so.
The story in Last Light is much better than its predecessor. It flows at a much nicer pace and there is never really a “dull” moment. Unfortunately (for me at least), the last hour of the game was the least enjoyable part. However, the story is well written, the dialogue is great, and the character development of Artyom is handled nicely.
As I stated earlier, Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter. However, it’s a first person shooter where you want to avoid conflict as much as possible. Sticking to the shadows, taking people out stealthy, and conserving ammo is the name of the game. Honestly, there were only two or three times in the game where I killed more than 10 enemies all coming at me at once. Usually, a room will consist of a bunch of enemies that you’ll try to take out one by one. If you alert them, then you’ll have a firefight on your hands. And trust me, you’re going to want to conserve your ammo.
When I say conserve your ammo, I mean…. conserve your ammo. Just like in the original game, there are two types of ammunition you can carry. There’s regular, normal ammo; and military grade bullets. However, therein lies the rub. These military grade bullets also serve as your currency in Last Light. This creates an interesting balancing act of deciding when to use these bullets for combat, or saving them for much needed purchases. (The military grade bullets are much more powerful than the normal ones FYI.)
What will you be using these bullets for? Well, Last Light has a wide variety of weaponry, all be it very familiar. There’s pistols, shotguns, rifles, and guns that require pump action. The air gun is one of these pump action guns. It needs to be “charged” before it can be shot. You can even over-pump it to deal more damage. It’s a nice gun to have when you’re running low on ammo. There are also throwing weapons in the game; knives and pipe bombs primarily. You can “only” hold three main weapons at once, so choose wisely.
Each one of these weapons can be upgraded using your military grade bullets. (Also, modified guns can be found on the bodies of dead soldiers, so keep and eye out!) These upgrades include the usual: scopes, silencers, and stocks. You also have to think about what “route” you want to go down when upgrading your gun. Do you want to have a silenced pistol so you won’t alert guards? Or do you want to get an extended barrel to increase accuracy and damage? I found myself sticking to a silenced pistol, silenced assault rifle (with a night-vision scope), and a 6-round, automatic shotgun (Uboyneg in Russian).
My first time through the game, I played on the default difficulty setting. I found this setting to be a bit too easy. If you play the game with any sense of stealth and loot as many of the bodies/containers that you come across; you’ll get through the game just fine and have a ton of military ammunition to use.
Then there’s “Ranger mode.” If you can stomach it, Ranger mode is the way Last Light should be played. Be warned though, Ranger mode is tough…. really tough. If there wasn’t already a sense of immersion, this mode removes the HUD from the game and limits the amount of bullets/consumables that you will find throughout. No more looting dead bodies and finding 47 rifle bullets, a pipe bomb, and a med-kit. The combat difficulty is also amplified in this mode. I am only about five chapters in on Ranger mode and I will update this review after (if) I complete the game using it.
The thing that irks me about Ranger mode is that it’s DLC. If you pre-ordered the game, or bought it new, you’ll be given a code to unlock this mode, as well as a special assault rifle. I know in todays day and age, you always need an incentive to get players to buy the game new, but it saddens me to think that some people who get this game at a later date might not be able to experience the game “the way it was meant to be played.”
A lot of the gameplay mechanics from the original game return in Last Light. We have already touched on the military grade ammo-balancing act, but there are other interesting mechanics as well. The first of these is your flashlight. Accessible at (almost) any time, your flashlight is very handy. However, its battery drains and must be recharged. To do this, Artyom has a hand-generator he carries around that you can use to charge the light.
The surface in Metro: Last Light is a bad place. It’s full of monsters trying to eat you, other soldiers trying to kill you, and oh; it’s radioactive. This is where another (and my favorite) gameplay mechanic of Metro: Last Light comes into play. You must have a gas mask on at all times when traversing the surface. These gas masks require filters to function, and each filter only lasts five minutes. You’re equipped with a watch that tells you how long your filter has left, so don’t worry; you’ll know exactly how long you have before you die.
While it might seem like a lot, all of the mechanics in Last Light are handled with ease. This is because of the new U.I that the game implements. It’s much easier switching between your weapons, ammo types, and equipment; thanks to this easy to use, intuitive, menu system. This was a much-needed addition to the game, and it works tremendously well.
The A.I has also received a much-needed overhaul. They will use their flashlights/helmet lights to try and expose you, and once they do they will work ruthlessly together to kill you. Yes, sometimes they can still act dumb, but it’s a much better A.I system than the original game.
Not all is well in the Metro however. I encountered a few bugs throughout my play through of Last Light. Nothing game breaking like Dead Island: Riptide, but there were a few instances of clipping and sometimes I got stuck on an invisible wall.
Metro: Last Light is a great-looking game. The character models are detailed, the environments (especially, the surface) look incredible, and the game has such a great sense of atmosphere. There are a number of camps throughout the game that you visit (see below), and each one of these has its own unique Identity. From the theater; which is full of all the actors and entertainers of this world; to Venice, (a city only assessable by boat) that houses the criminal scum of the Metro. There are also some great-looking set piece moments throughout the game as well.
As I stated earlier, Last Light is based off of a Russian novel. I honestly believe that the best (and most authentic) way to play the game is to switch the audio to Russian and play with English subtitles. I did this for the original game, and is was incredible. So, the first thing I did when I loaded up Last Light was set the language to Russian and turn on subtitles. I highly recommend you do this! It adds so much more to the atmosphere of the game.
The sound design in Last Light is superb as well. The score is littered with highs and lows that are used perfectly in specific situations; bottles clank and ice cracks beneath your feet. One of my favorite aspects of the sound design was Artyoms’ breathing. Your breathing should change depending on what you’re doing; and Last Light nails this. It’s a small thing, but that’s exactly what Last Light is; an amalgamation of small things that creates a larger, more outstanding thing.
2013 is shaping up to be a great year for games. We have already had some incredible experiences this year like: Tomb Raider, BioShock: Infinite, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. You can now add Metro: Last Light to that list. I’m so happy that 4A games found a home at Deep Silver, and were able to get this game released.
Metro: Last Light improves on its predecessor in almost every way. The story is better, the A.I is actually competent, and all of the gameplay mechanics are much better handled though a more intuitive user interface. Yea, I ran into a few bugs while playing the game, and the last 10% of the story was lackluster, but Last Light is a fantastic game, and one you should definitely check out.
A code/copy of Metro: Last Light was given to us by Deep Silver for review; I played the game on PC. It took me about 7 hours to complete the game on normal. I killed many monsters, saved many souls, and in the end … was the “last light in our darkest hour.”