In 2013, the bombs fell, killing billions worldwide. In Moscow, barely tens of thousands survived within the underground metro system and 20 years later you play Artyom, a resident in one of the metro stations who at the end of the last game, killed a race of beings called the dark ones who tried to communicate in a friendly with us humans by killing us and in return we dropped a bunch of missiles on them, leading to humanity facing this hellhole we used to call earth ourselves. Metro: Last Light continues from there, one year later when relations within the Metro’s factions deteriorate and an all-out war is imminent among the capitalistic Hansa, the Fourth Reich and the Commies. That being said, Last Light has quite the history as well. From going to a periodically released free online book by Dmitry Glukhovsky to becoming an international bestseller with Metro 2033 being sold in more than 20 countries. And it is with this history stuck at the back of my head when I started with Last Light. Needless to say, this is the sequel to Metro 2033 the game and in order to understand the game’s extended storyline and background, some experience with the former wouldn’t hurt. The good part however, is that while having played Metro 2033 contributes to the narrative immersion, it does not render you handicapped if you haven’t.
The first thing you will notice about this game is how depressingly beautiful it is. Bioshock Infinite did wonders with such a bright game, but in terms of a run down, rusting dystopia Last Light takes the cake. Whether it is inside the winding tunnels of the Metro or within the derelicts that populate the surface, they are stunning. Oh, and did I mention they have one of the best rain effects I’ve ever seen? Besides the graphics, Last Light never really feels boring or draggy throughout the 10 – 12 hour play through, at least enough variety and depth to keep you entertained and motivated to just finish one more level till the end of the game, which boils down to well fleshed out level designs.
Last Light from a more technical standpoint is an obvious improvement over 2033 across the board. Controls feel less clunky, and respond far smoother. Combat mechanics actually have a little more weight to them now, and killing either by the stealth or guns blazing approach are no less satisfying than the other. Enemy AI has seen a marked improvement as well, and unlike the first, humans and beasts alike will actually take cover, regroup and flank you. It is still not perfect however as I’ve had enemies stare right into my soul while I was in the open, and then look away as if I was some sort of cheap banana. Stealth, unlike the first game has been fleshed out extensively as well. It feels satisfying, and while taking out an entire camp makes me feel like a complete badass, getting caught and dying isn’t as depressing or a put-off as well simply because of the level design and in part, some stupidity on the AI. There are 2 major factors for stealth; the first being that light sources play a vital role in determining whether you are “seen”, even though you most assuredly are and secondly this is decided by a helpful little watch you wear, which both informs you with an annoying series of beeps when the time on your gas canisters for your outdoor mask is getting low and with a blue luminous light that turns itself on when it detects that you’re bathed yourself in light. It is with this indicator alone that determines whether enemies can see you, so you can be in a dimly lit area (Not pitched black obviously), be crouched and close enough to an enemy to give him felatio and he won’t even know you’re there. Truly, this is the premier ninja simulator. While the mechanic can obviously be utilized for stealth in a surprisingly effective manner, it takes with it a form of disappointing hilarity that categorizes it as the last piece of expired candy you shouldn’t have taken when the entire bowl was so, so good.
Speaking of felatio and bad sex jokes, another disappointing part of the game was the fact that there were tits. No not male tits, female tits. Now I like tittles as much as the next guy but there are 2 types of titties; story titties and contrived titties. Sadly, when you ARE exposed to titty scenes in Last Light, it feels like they’re forced on to you simply for the sake of it and nothing more. The over sexualization of women in this regard leaves a bitter taste as well when in a game of 10 – 12 hours, one of the only 2 main female characters you interact the most with is a strip dancer who brandishes her tits for a good minute in front of you. I kid you not.
The main issue or rather, controversy with the game was the pre-order bonus. One of the bonuses was that of unlocking Hardcore Ranger Mode, a difficulty level that promotes “realism” by having no HUD, tougher enemies, sparser weapons and items. You get the picture. There was an outcry of public outrage over that and when the game was actually released, they’re charging the DLC for 5 bucks. 5 freaking bucks for a difficulty level. What the fuck. Of course, 4A games came out and said that it was against what they wanted, but due to the requirements of their former publisher THQ, this little gem we have here was set in stone a long time ago. Weirdly enough, Deep Silver (Their new publisher) did not do anything to alleviate the situation. While most of us can agree it’s horrendous, that doesn’t discount on an account of effort on 4A Game’s labor of love.
In conclusion, the game is a fine piece of art. How 4A games brings both the aspects of gameplay mechanics and storytelling is a prime example of gaming as a form of interactive story-telling that not only hooks the player in, but also be able to relate this to current affairs and events, not very common given the caliber of games we’ve seen in recent times. If you don’t mind a game with linear progression at its core but with minor elements of exploration and a story told well, with solid gameplay mechanics while ignoring a few bugbears, then give this game a shot.
– Immersive and graphically realistic environment
– Riveting story
– Combat and stealth both feel satisfying enough to motivate you to continue playing
– Enemy AI feels slightly smarter
– Responsive controls
– Certain moments in the game feels forced
– Glitches still in the game will either make you scratch your head or face desk
– Character development could have been fleshed out more
– Charging for a difficulty level
Rating: 8/10. The game HAS issues no doubt, but if you are able to look past that, you’ll find a genuinely enjoyable experience within. By the way, the author of the Metro series will be releasing a book this year titled Metro 2035 (Surprise, surprise). Here’s the sneak peek.