Platforms: PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC
Reviewed On: PS3
Metro: Last Light is the direct sequel to the 2010 game Metro 2033, formerly published by the now defunct THQ. New publishers Deep Silver have taken the reins by releasing Metro: Last Light with all previous development intact.
I would like to stress that Metro 2033 was known as a “pain in the ass” game to run on max settings on a PC. So, thankfully I made the decision to review the sequel (that looks even more graphically intense) on the PS3. This may reflect any opinions I share about the graphical experience.
The game takes place one year after the events of Metro 2033, in the underground metro tunnels of Moscow. The world has been completely obliterated by nuclear fallout during a very short, but massively destructive, war. Survivors are forced to live in the metro tunnels and occasionally venture out to the extremely dangerous surface on scavenging missions with the aid of gas masks and weapons, having to fend off dangerous mutations that have evolved following the nuclear fallout.
Unfortunately, the developers decided to choose the “bad ending” from the previous game as the canonical choice for the sequel's start, where our main protagonist, Artyom, launched a devastating nuclear attack on the home of a mysterious psychic alien race known as “The Dark Ones”.
The game starts off at a decommissioned Nuclear silo called D6, with Artyom as part of “The Rangers”. They are a neutral faction that only want the survival of humanity. However, their leader believes (as in the previuos game) that “The Dark Ones” are a threat.
Evidence is presented to the rangers about a possible Dark One survivor, and Artyom (who has the power to communicate with the Dark Ones) is tasked with seeking the survivor out and eliminating it.
All in all, the story is not that much different from the previous game, however it does flesh out more about the different factions that exist in the post apocalypse Metro tunnels, such as the Nazis and Communists. But in essence the story focuses on the plight of humankind trying to survive through the repercussions of an apocalypse.
However, you may have probably guessed by now that this sequel does fail to explain its story cohesively or explain any elements carried over from Metro 2033. If you're new to the Metro universe, you may be confused as to who the characters are or why they are there and ultimately feel slightly disconnected.
It’s extremely difficult to say more than this without spoiling the entire experience for the player, but I will say that getting the “good ending” was incredibly difficult, and all endings, be they “good” or “bad”, were quite flat and sudden.
The gameplay has largely remained the same as the original, with bullets scarce and weapons haphazard in design. You can collect “pre-war” high-grade bullets that dish out a load of damage, however they are best used as currency.
The trading system has been largely dumbed down, with the omission of different armor choices and buying filters or health packs. Instead, the currency system focuses on buying ammo and customizing weapons. All in all it dulls down the survival aspect of the game.
Enemies are somewhat the same, with Artyom taking on rival factions and the inclusion of a few new mutated faces such as “shrimps” that pop-out of the water to chomp on you. There are also annoyingly large insect critters that live in the dark and have a massive weakness to your flashlight’s light – Nice inclusion overall, however yet again the omission of some really interesting creatures like the “Librarian” creatures from Metro 2033 are sorely missed.
The A.I of human opponents appears to have been dumbed down from the previous game. Uou’ll find yourself in the dark with night vision goggles literally headshotting every single person in the room with a silenced assault rifle –as long as you stay in the dark, you're likely not get spotted. It's a bit of an immersion killer, making Atyrom feel like he’s a trained assassin rather than a grizzled survivor.
While the previous game wasn't really known for its exploration or deviation, the flow of the sequel feels even more geared to keeping you on track. At times it felt like the game had a better way of directing the player where to go, and the overall pacecould become quite jarring, with certain chapters only lasting a couple of minutes and some for far too long.
The game can actually be played fairly stealthily (this becomes a necessity on higher difficulties as avoiding encounters and saving bullets is highly recommended), however for the most part the the player may feel forced into encounters with the enemy. I, personally, would choose ominous atmosphere over action any day, but the combat sequences felt necessary and extremely satisfying.
Graphically, this game will probably make your PC blow-up, as it’s quite a graphics hog (it does look gorgeous with a truck load of complex animations on screen at one time). I played it on the PS3, and it still looks gorgeous, shadow/light effects are still dynamic and water particles look really realistic - However nothing will compare to how it should truly look on the PC as there is a distinct lack of high-res textures on certain items such as your light-charger gauge. There were hardly any slow-downs on the PS3 version, except some frame rate choppiness in a “swamp” section of the game that used a lot of smoke fog particle effects.
The voice acting is what it is: Russian accents speaking English. It’s quite debatable whether or not this is acceptable or an annoyance and I think it comes down to player preference. However, I will say that it would have been a nice little added feature to include the Russian voice track as the game is based in Russia with Russian people all around you at all times. In Russia.
There is one massive annoyance I found and it's the exclusion of the “Ranger Mode” that was standard in Metro 2033. It’s really strange and quite jarring that players will have to pay $5 to unlock a on-disk DLC that allows you to use this mode. It's a poor decision and quite an obvious cash grab.
Overall the game is fairly lengthy experience for a FPS game and definitely has moments where it becomes immensely fun to play (more so nearing the last 1/4 of the game). However, the exclusion of certain monsters or the ability to buy your own supplies wasn’t replaced with enough content to make me feel there was a justification in those decisions.
There were moments where I really did feel “this is true survival horror” – walking through a cave infested with mutants with only a lighter for to guide me, or strolling through the remains of a dead city with ghostly apparitions appearing through the clap of thunder as the acid rain obscures my vision through my gas mask. There are some definite moments of decadent dystopian beauty.
If you're a fan of the series your going to love this title regardless, it’s a very nice continuation, however the story leaves much to be desired, especially in terms of closure.