Review: Metro: Last Light

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In 2010, Ukrainian developer 4A Games introduced us to the melancholy darkness of the post-apocalyptic Moscow Metro with their debut game Metro 2033. The game followed the story from Dmitry Glukhovsky’s cult classic novel of the same name, and it put 4A Games on the map with their ability to create amazing atmosphere and some interesting game mechanics that made the first person shooter feel fresh once again.  In Metro: Last Light, we return to the tunnels and the battle for survival in this remarkable follow up.

30 Second Review

(+) Does a terrific job creating a creepy atmosphere

(+) Interesting survival game mechanics

(-) Playing stealthy can feel awkward

(-) A few too many monsters

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A Tale of Survival

After the events of Metro 2033, Artyom finds himself a member of a military group called D6 tasked with finding what is believed to be a single Dark One who survived the missile strike. However, after a series of flashbacks, Artyom decides to rescue the Dark One believing that its powers may be the last light of hope for humanity’s survival. The story that follows is an interesting tale of survival filled with political twists and creepy situations that can easily rival that of most modern shooters.

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This Place Gives Me the Creeps

One of the strengths of Metro 2033 was its remarkable ability to create the creepy atmosphere of the tunnels, making the player feel like they were making life and death decisions at almost every corner. Metro: Last Light follows in its predecessor’s footsteps nicely, not only creating one of the bleakest settings in gaming but also making the player feel as if they are actually a part of the world itself. The graphics in Metro: Last Light are truly a sight to behold. Using a proprietary engine, 4A Games has done a great job creating a game that looks amazing, feels unique and runs well on a wide range of hardware. To add to the immersion, the game incorporates several unique  mechanics such as a flashlight that actually requires the player to recharge it manually with a pump mechanism and a gas mask that needs the filter changed every few minutes to avoid suffocation. This keeps the player on their toes and avoids simply pushing them forward to shoot everything that moves.

For those who played Metro 2033, Last Light also brings back the use of military grade ammo left over from before the war as currency. While this concept worked well in the first game, it unfortunately felt like it could have used some additional balancing here. I rarely found myself agonizing over whither or not to shoot my military grade ammo, as standard ammo was rarely in short supply.

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Keep Fighting

During the trek through the tunnels, the player will encounter several different types of foes. These are mostly either military forces or mutant monsters. Metro: Last Light does a great job with the military encounters by adding an optional element of stealth to the equation.  It is possible to shoot your way through these or take your time and sneak through without killing anyone. The problem was there were more than a few instances where I was able to walk right up to an enemy without a reaction unless the lead started flying. This sometimes broke the immersion that the game does an ever so great job of creating.

Some of my biggest frustrations with the game were fighting the mutant monsters that populate the less inhabited portions of the world. Most of the time, they simply charge straight at you, and you need to either kill them all or, even worse, hold out until the game sequence has completed. I understand this plays into the storyline, but it didn’t take long until these encounters simply weren’t fun. Thankfully, only a few of the combat sequences felt too long, and the story unfolds at a good pace.

Conclusion

Metro: Last Light is an absolutely fantastic game that does a great job making the player feel as if they are a part of its world. It’s amazing that such a complete polished product came from a developer that had a budget about a tenth the size of what the typical western shooter has to work with. It may have its quirks, but more often than not they add to the character of the game instead of detracting from the fun. 2013 has already been a big year for top quality action games, and Metro: Last Light easily fits in with the very best. Metro: Last Light gets an 8 out of 10 stars.

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