Metro 2033 was a pretty neat game but riddled with glitches and contained a stealth system that was somewhat broken, until 4A Studios released a patch to fix the issues. The story was interesting based on the novels by Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky and telling a tale of a ravaged and post apocalyptic world where humanity is forced to live underground, and in this case the old metro system of Moscow. Metro Last Light follows on from the first game but this time comes out fighting with improved gameplay and a morality system which affects the game’s conclusion.
Players assume the role of Artyom, the same silent protagonist from the first game – a highly skilled ranger with a connection to the first game’s main enemy, the dark ones. The story is very different this time and delves within the minds of those in control of people’s lives showing off the desperation and lust for power. The game is all about discovery as players are led from one scenario to another with some choice thrown in as to how they interact and what play style to adopt. On the surface, Last Light is a well competent first person shooter, with tight controls, decent aiming, and this time a hit indicator to show headshots and connecting rounds. You can tell 4A have ramped up the action during fire fights, but have maintained the stealth elements for those who would rather befriend the darkness. The game is much more enjoyable to play when sneaking and taking out guards one by one, or not at all, and it’s clear the level design is such that multiple paths are offered. There’s some excellent use of lighting when stealth is shoehorned into tight corridors and boxed in rooms, and whilst ultimately leaving the player shrouded in darkness, provides a foreboding sense of fear as enemy flashlights highlight their locations, often aiding your sneaking progress as a result.
The game throws countless contrasting moments at players as they reach settlements filled with men, and women this time, struggling to make best of a bad situation. There’s even some adult sections thrown in which make for some light entertainment, but also are indicative of man’s willingness to survive. It’s usually during these populated locales that Artyom can upgrade or sell weapons and buy ammo using the game’s two tier ammo system from the first game.
As another contrast are the moments where the air is polluted and a gas mask has to be worn, it’s here where the enemies become the mutated forms of animals which pose their own set of challenges. Couple this with some shifting and dangerous terrain, and it makes for some tense moments, especially with the gas mask filters adding a time limit to proceedings. Players are taken on a non stop roller coaster ride of action gameplay which is restrained perfectly with the stealth moments and visits to the underground settlements. The story does delve into more surreal elements later on in the game, but is handled very well and is not too jarring.
In terms of the game’s looks, 4A have done a grand job in creating tons of atmosphere whether that be in the claustrophobic tunnels to the swamps at night. Last Light is a very nice looking game indeed with plenty of character models and neat touches such as having to wipe grime and blood from the gas mask visor. The texture detail is varied and whilst not the best we’ve seen, is still very high quality in places – especially on the PC version. That said, the Xbox 360 version holds up well despite the lower resolution being obvious and the frame rate not being as steady. However, the game is certainly very playable on either system thanks to performance boosting patches on the PC platform.
Audio is a mixed bag as there’s some excellent ambient sound, and of course the lead character says nothing through the entire game aside from the narration between levels during the loading which might appeal to some and not others – why bother recording the character and then not use him in the actual game? The rest of the audio is fairly decent if you can take Russian accents and not think of more comedic representations we’ve seen in other videos games.
Metro Last Light offers a reasonably lengthy campaign to experience, although it’s debatable there’s much difference when playing again on the default setting. A more hardcore Ranger mode is included – although some have to purchase this separately depending on which version is purchased and from where which is a terrible move from 4A and not something we’re going to debate here. Ranger Mode ramps up the difficulty and makes changes to the HUD for a more realistic experience which is worth of shot for purists, but essentially it’s still the same game.
Metro Last Light proves that sequels can be better than their original forms and 4A Studios has shown the possibilities with an equally captivating and engaging first person shooter that’s big on looks and crammed with flourishes of pure genius that really draws the player into to the subterranean post apocalyptic world. Essentially though, the game does feel very similar to its predecessor in light of the story being a continuation. The game plays much better, has refined shooting mechanics, and a stealth system that works this time but could have been a little more imaginative with its locales. Whilst there’s some neat contrasting moments overall, the journey could have expanded outwards a little more for our tastes.
Metro Last Light comes highly recommended for players who like a little less pace and a more methodical shooter experience.
Score 8.5/10 – Review by Rob Cram