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Metro: Last Light
It’s time to return to the underground world of Moscow in a post apocalyptic world. Will Metro: Last Light make you care enough to save what’s left, or should it all be left in the dark and damp underground subways of Moscow?
Read our review to find out.
Back in 2010, 4A Games teamed up with Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky to take his post apocalyptic book and turn into a top of the line video game. Metro 2033 was unleashed on the masses for the PC and Xbox 360 and received better than average scores, and turned out to be a fun and well thought out IP. Fast forward to 2013 and the sequel, Metro: Last Light, is ready for its world premiere.
Metro: Last Light picks up the timeline right where Metro 2033 left off. Our hero Artyom has just wiped out a race of creatures known as the Dark Ones by raining missiles upon their hive. These are creatures that could fight you from within your own mind and make you see things that weren’t what they seemed. A dream sequence shows us how the Dark Ones led Artyom to kill his own friends by simply making him hallucinate and see his friends as creatures that were trying to kill him.
We are introduced to the different characters in the story through a first person narrative that really puts you right into the world of Last Light. Instead of cut scenes, most of the story is told during the game play, meaning you’ll need to stand around and pay attention or you may miss some finer points of the plot as well as some side quests that pop up from time to time.
After the destruction of the Dark Ones in the first game, the underground world becomes thrown into a power struggle between several groups with Artyom being a member of The Rangers who are tasked with defending D6, which is believed to be a huge food cache amassed by the previous government. Those that control D6, will control the known world. The other groups are the Nazis of the Fourth Reich, the communist Reds, and bandits that will do anything to help themselves.
Having never played the first game or having read the book Metro 2033 I was worried I might have to read up on it, but the story was pretty easy to follow and understand and the intro gave me enough information from the previous story. Quite often story lines aren’t the first thing a developer starts working on, and there aren’t too many games that have a story that could stand by itself. Developer 4A games, with direction from author Dmitry Glukhovsky, seems to have made sure that this story could stand by itself. It is well written and left us having actual feelings about Artyom and his decisions in the game. The story consists of thirty one total chapters and should take most gamers ten to twelve hours to finish.
Gameplay will have you moving between the dark and dangerous tunnels of The Metro, which hold not only human enemies but other deadly creatures as well, and above ground where your breaths are measured in seconds and death can come from anywhere, including from above. Creatures you’ll run into, and that may run into you, vary from shrimp like critters, to ground crawling things on legs, to flying dragons that want nothing more than to pick you up and take you to their nest to feed their young.
Two things that are in short supply, and that are key to your survival, are your gas mask filters and ammo for your weapons. Gas masks have replaceable filters which can be found, quite sparingly, in boxes and on the bodies of the recently deceased. You can also damage your gas mask, so keep an eye on the face mask. If it starts getting cracked, grab another as soon as you have a chance. You wear a very useful watch that might not look like a Rolex, but is worth more to you than any diamond encrusted timepiece you may have coveted in the past. Your watch has a timer counting down the life of your current air filter, whenever you are actually wearing your mask. Pulling up your menu will show you how much time you have as far as filters in your pocket, but don’t swap them out until your watch hits zero because each filter has a set amount of time and this time doesn’t stack. Once a filter is swapped out, it is gone for good and you lose that time.
Almost all levels give you the ability to stealthily move through them and when sneaking up behind a bad guy you’ll have the option of either killing him or just knocking him out. There is an achievement for finishing the game without killing any humans unless forced to, so going the stealth route is a distinct possibility. Your trusty watch also has a blue light that lights up whenever you are visible and is dark whenever you are hidden from sight. That blue light becomes key to your stealth as it will light up whenever you leave the shadows.
Ammo for the various weapons in the game is just as scarce, so picking your shots should become second nature because a well placed bullet is much more efficient than running and gunning with guns blazing. Spray and pray will only leave you with nothing more than your trusty knife and no one wants to bring a knife to a gun fight. There are two types of ammo in the game as well. There are bullets that were created down in the Metro that are effective, but not as powerful as the military grade rounds that are much harder to come by.
The weapons in the game are many and range from a variety of shotguns, auto rifles, sniper rifles, hand guns and stealth weapons like dart and bolt guns.Stealth weapons are air powered and will have a gauge of some sort to let you know how much pressure is available. Once the weapon is empty of pressure, you’ll have to pump it back up or it will no longer work. On the PS3 all you have to do is hold L2, press right on the d-pad and then R1 to pump it back up. Your flashlight also requires being pumped up to continue working so you’ll need to make sure to check that often. On the PS3 all you have to do is hold L2, press left on the d-pad and then R1 to pump the generator.
Weapon dealers can be found in a few areas in the game and they offer attachments for your weapons that can make them quieter (but weaker) and add better sights like laser or ACOG. With in-game currency being hard to find though, you’ll find yourself being a very frugal shopper. You may also want to save some of that money for a nice lap dance in Venice, but then again maybe not.
This is a dark game and definitely not for the young gamers, with the ‘M’ rating truly being earned. Killing bad guys with a gun is your typical shooter fare, but taking someone out stealthily gives many different variations of executions with your knife. These are all brutal, but some can seem extra disturbing. Plunging a knife downward into the back of a bad guys neck, knowing you just severed his spinal cord, is a pretty effective way to take someone out, but very graphic in nature.
Gameplay is mostly linear, but a couple of locations do allow you to roam freely, albeit in a limited area. Venice has a shooting gallery, an adult theater complete with a stripper pole, and the aforementioned lap dance parlor, as well as an arms dealer and ammo dealer. A couple of other locations are similar, but there’s very little free roaming available. There are collectible items strewn about that will help tell the story through Diary pages, and some of these are well off the beaten path, so completionists will be busy with those for a while. Once you’ve completed a chapter it becomes selectable to re-visit so if you do miss a note, the game will tell you and you’ll be able to start that chapter over again if you quit to the main menu.
Metro: Last Light is a great looking game on both the console and the PC. We played in 1080p on the PS3 and were very impressed with the graphics. The level of detail across the board was incredible. When traveling through the darkest reaches of the Metro and using your flashlight, these details pop out at you with a sharpness you might not expect. We did run into a few glitches along the way where we fell through the map and had to reload the last checkpoint in order to remedy it. We never ran into any fatal glitches and the game only froze up on us once during the twelve or so hours of game play.
Developer 4A Games did a great job of staying true to the world created by Dmitry Glukhovsky and wrote a great story, with characters you’ll like and characters we know you’ll want to put a bullet in. Sometimes, there aren’t enough bullets to go around.
Protip: Holding your breath in the real world doesn’t help in the game.