Combat and stealth mechanics have been improved as well as the A.I. responses. Engaging story and the detailed environment creates an incredible experience
Some questions raised are left unanswered.
Gameplay ( 9.5 )Graphics ( 9.5 )Sound Quality ( 9 )
- Total score
Metro Last Light is a FPS horror game developed by 4A Games set in post-apocalyptic Russia and is the sequel to Metro 2033. You continue the story of Artyom, a ranger responsible for firing the missiles that destroyed the Dark Ones and who is viewed as a hero not only for that deed but for finding D6, a pre-war military facility, as well. However Artyom wonders if that was the correct decision seeing as how he can’t free himself of the lingering thoughts that somehow the Dark Ones were trying to communicate with him prior to that. He’s not alone in that thinking as Khan, a mystical nomad, not only believes that the Dark Ones were trying to communicate with Artyom and the human race as a whole but they could also hold the key to human survival. Not everyone shares the same hopeful sentiment as Khan, so when the news of a surviving Dark One is revealed Khan has to be restrained when the decision is made to send Artyom with the Rangers best sniper, Anna, to kill it. And if Artyom fails in trying to kill it or is compromised then Anna has orders to kill Artyom. It’s not discovered until after they set out that the surviving Dark One is only a child, a frightened one at that, who also knows that Artyom was the one who fired the missiles destroying the other Dark Ones. Artyom and Anna’s mission to kill the Dark One doesn’t go so well aside from Artyom communicating with it because the latter two are captured by Nazis instead. And Artyom would soon learn that the last Dark One isn’t the biggest problem because the Metro is on the verge of an all-out war, which could wipe out the remaining human population. Can you as Artyom prevent this from occurring or is the sole Dark One the last light and hope for humanity?
If you’ve never played Metro 2033 then it might sound cliché to say that it’s not like the average first person shooter but that’s definitely true. Aside from the actual game play mechanics, the Metro series focuses on storytelling not only through the series of events that take place during the course of the games but through its detailed and immersive environment, which pulls you in and puts you in the mindset of one of the inhabitants of the Metro. Artyom is the protagonist in the Metro series but the real star is the Metro itself.
The game opens up one year after the events of Metro 2033 and with Artyom at D6 with the other Rangers. I spent time soaking up the environment and stopped and listened to the conversations taking place while on my way to the meeting with Khan and Colonel Miller, the leader of the Rangers. I recommend doing this as it gives the first taste of what life is like in this world, or for those who played the first one, a reminder of what life is like in this world. Don’t worry, there is actual game play, as well as some much-needed improvements, and there’s a quick introduction to the supplies that are needed to survive and how to use them. Metro Last Light is a fully immersive experience so everything is done in-game and the HUD is virtually nonexistent. You view your objectives by holding up a notepad in one hand and a lighter in the other hand to use if the area is too dark. In addition to a lighter, which can also be used to burn cobwebs, you have a flashlight, a gas mask and air filters, night vision goggles later in the game, and a battery to power all those items. The battery doesn’t last much longer than one in a smartphone so you’ll have to manually charge it occasionally. And you also have an improved watch, which displays whether or not you’re hidden from view as well as how much time you have left on your current air filter. And when you’re not using an air filter it displays the current time in the real world.
Of course you need more than supplies to survive in a post-apocalyptic world filled with mutants intent on killing everything in sight, and thankfully the weapons available are up to the task. And in an improvement I wanted, you can actually test the weapons you select before heading out because in a world where weapons and ammo can be scarce, it’s important to choose the weapons that suit you best. You can carry 3 fully customizable weapons as well as grenades, incendiary grenades, throwing knives for stealth, and mines. You don’t have to choose between the disposable weapons as there’s a separate slot for each of them. And the weapon customization is deep enough where you can buy the same weapon and customize them in a way you end up with 3 completely different weapons.
Once again, military grade ammo is the currency used in this game, which doubles as ammo in emergency situations, and is a perfect indicator of how fighting to survive is a constant battle and fully intertwined with everyday life. The military grade ammo is slightly different in this game when used in a weapon and instead of the sound being different, there’s a visual effect of fire when it hits its target. And since this is a survival horror game you have to use your ammo and supplies carefully. That aspect isn’t reflected in the first mission with Anna to capture the remaining Dark One because there’s plenty of ammo even on the highest difficulty but it’s easily apparent that the combat mechanics have been refined and makes for better gameplay. And this can be easily explained in terms of the story because Artyom is now a Ranger and so his weapon proficiency has improved. So switching between weapons, reloading time and movement have all improved. You’re still human so you can’t go gung-ho in combat situations or you’ll meet your end very fast. So it’s definitely a relief that the stealth system has been vastly improved and more directly incorporated into game play situations. Metro Last Light does a great job of introducing the player to this during the initial escape after being captured. You’re not alone as you become friends with Pavel, a Communist Red Line soldier who was captured, and who seeks to escape as well. And you’re given non-lethal options throughout almost the entire game and while hidden you can either kill or knock out an enemy. Every choice you make adds or takes away from a positive moral rating and the impact of that is revealed through the various endings in the game. It’s no secret that if you’re able to go the entire game without killing a human (unless it’s a situation where it’s absolutely unavoidable) it’ll lead to an ending with the best karma. I actually enjoyed the stealth alot this time around and even in situations where it required a little more effort than just killing someone I leaned towards stealth more. The A.I. was great for the most part, meaning it worked in terms of being responsive to situations and they would even attempt to flank you if spotted, but there’s still the aspect in general of being able to stand right in front of an enemy and they can’t see you if you’re in the shadows. Of course that’s not just unique to Metro Last Light.
One of the things I loved about Metro 2033 was the way the story unfolded through its action and its environment, as mentioned earlier, and Metro Last Light improves on that in every single way. Without a central government, the citizens that took refuge in the Metro became divided into different factions and stations with some factions being more radical than others. And with the rumors spreading about the D6 vault being discovered and now a surviving Dark One, various factions are seeking ways to wrest control of either the D6 vault or be in possession of the Dark One. And during your journey you’re able to explore these areas and get an understanding of what life is like in the Metro. You’ll come across stations in different situations and see for yourself how human life has adapted and its resiliency as there’s entertainment, family ties, sacrifice and love. With all the political machinations in play, Metro Last Light does an excellent job in giving you an understanding of how living in the Metro personally affects people from the old to even the very young. From the strong to the vulnerable. It raises serious questions about family ties, friendship and alliances in a world where life can be so fragile. So even later in the game when you hear news about events in another station you can feel the impact because you can reflect on your time spent there so I definitely enjoyed the extended time in the different locations and not just for the…um, entertainment. You can witness firsthand the attempts to achieve a semblance of normality in day-to-day life. There’s an area called Venice because it’s flooded with water, albeit polluted water, and the older citizens originally named it that because of their memory of Venice, Italy and even a small touch like that is revelatory in terms of the mindset of those living in the Metro. After gaining this understanding, when the story unfolds, the game does an incredible job of making you wonder who the real monsters are in this post-apocalyptic world.
Speaking of monsters, or rather mutants, there are plenty of them in this game so you’ll have ample opportunity to make use of your improved arsenal of weapons. And not only is their behavior more nuanced but the types of mutants have increased so the horror element has been ramped up dramatically. Since there is no HUD, you have to pay attention to the visual and audio cues to be mindful of your surroundings and your gear. On Ranger mode this is even more difficult but even on the hardest setting it’s been made somewhat easier this time around. When switching between gear or secondary weapons, the action slows briefly and even though I admit it helped I’m glad they didn’t over do it and ruin the immersion. Your breathing becomes labored when you’re close to running out of air, the weather conditions can affect your line of sight requiring you to manually wipe your gas mask, and a cracked gas mask can be very dangerous and in more ways than just affecting your view. And it gets very intense, as I was on the edge of my seat while maneuvering through an area infested with mutant insects, who by the way have an impenetrable shell and can only be defeated by focusing your flashlight on them long enough to get them to flip over and writhe in agony. Imagine the feeling when you’re surrounded by three of them, your battery is running low and there are spider webs all around you. You haven’t fully experienced life in the Metro until you’ve done this. And the fact that there are whispers, human spirits who perished in an area during the initial nuclear blasts, who fade in and out doesn’t help keep the angst down. There are great action sequences and I can write about how thrilling it was to be running through the marshes trying to fight a giant monster while receiving help from snipers, and not being sure if the monster is the bigger danger or the fact I had 5 seconds left in my oxygen mask but, well, some things just have to be experienced. And it’s even better knowing how well the story holds up and that includes the mystical elements explored later in the game such as it was done in Metro 2033.
Metro Last Light is an incredible gaming experience from the beginning to the end and improves on the Metro 2033 in practically every way. The combat is exhilarating and has been refined, the stealth system works wonderfully and makes the attempts to go the entire game without killing unnecessarily more enjoyable. And the weapon customization and gear gives many options in terms of approaching a situation. The story is very engrossing because it leads you through various stations and gives a clear sense of the daily personal lives of those surviving in the Metro and the payoff is in the impact of events that occur during the game to raise serious questions about family, friendship, life and what’s worth fighting for, and in a mature way. If you enjoyed Metro 2033 you will love Metro Last Light and you should get this game as soon as your situation permits. If you never played a Metro game then you’re missing out on a tremendous gaming experience and I highly recommend it.