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REVIEW | “Last Light” Shines Brighter Than Predecessor

By
Posted on May 13, 2013 AT 03:59pm

Immersion: one of the biggest key elements to any video game. Without it, the feel of escaping to a new world from one that is tedious is non-existant. It was what was missing from 2010′s Metro 2033, a decent first-person shooter whose faults kept it from reaching the greatness of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s original novel. Now, three years later, 4A Games have given us a sequel that not only fixes these faults, but gives what made the good portions of the original game a serious dose of adrenaline.

**WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Taking place after the events of the first title Metro: Last Light has you controlling Artyom, who has earned the rank of Ranger in the Sparta army. During a mission you come across what may be the last Dark One, the antagonist from the previous game. After losing consciousness he finds himself captured by a group of Russian Nazis. Soon he makes friends with Patel, a member of the Communist Army who promises to help Artyom find his way back home. However things aren’t as they appear to be…

Unlike Metro 2033 the storyline in Metro: Last Light easily pulls you in to Artyom’s surroundings. From the opening scene regarding Artyom’s mother and the Dark Ones’ back story, to the tales of betrayals and backstabbing, the story that Glukhovsky has created with the developers knows how to surprise you at every turn. When the lone Dark One appears again the story takes a similar route to that of BioShock Infinite, only in this instance all the main characters in the game are unmasked for who they really are. It is done with love and care to the original Metro universe (so much, in fact, that Glukhovsky plans to expand the story in the upcoming novel Metro 2035).

You have a choice when it comes to battling against enemies: go in all guns blazing or kick it stealth-styled. If you choose the former you might find some fun doing head shots and filling soldiers with lead. That being said there is nothing more rewarding than ridding the rooms with light, sneaking past enemies, and on occasion knocking them out or slitting their throats when they least expect it. The monsters, however, are nearly impossible to sneak by, so be sure you’re heavily armed before heading into the dark unknown.

During gameplay Artyom can hold up to three guns at the same time, and fortunately there’s a good variety of weapons to be found. Handguns, shotguns, sniper rifles, and even a powerful chain gun can be in your possession during your time with this title. Secondary weapons such as knives and grenades come in handy, especially when in a room filled with enemies. Switching your weapons happens very quickly, so you won’t have to worry about being hurt so much when taking out another weapon.

When traveling in some areas you will be in need of filters for your gas mask; otherwise you’ll find yourself being poisoned by the air quality. Some are simple to find, but other times you’ll find yourself racing against time to beat a level while you gasp for fresher air. This occasion happened especially in the Railway and Church levels, where I found myself shooting and stabbing droves of mutants, hoping to reach the next destination before death came calling. It’s a tough aspect to Metro: Last Light, but a strategy can be pinpointed with some trial-and-error.

The highlight of Metro: Last Light, though, has to be the worlds within it. The destroyed landscape of Russia, the underground towns, and the dark caves are done with such beautiful detail, with each cobweb, scrape, and chipped brick looking as unique as the last. You may just spend an hour in each underground town to see what it has to offer (another aspect that’s quite similar to BioShock Infinite). One of the coolest elements to the graphical details is the damage your mask takes during battle. These scratches and marks do not disappear, with your only option to fix it is steal a new mask from a cabinet or corpse. It’s attention like this that make me wonder how this game would look on the Oculus Rift, the upcoming 3D gaming goggle peripheral.

Each person you come across in Metro: Last Light has their own unique features, too, whether it’s a look of despair or a glimmer of hope in their eyes or the way they walk or scamper on their merry way through the town. This attention to detail was evident when sitting in on a theater show, where a line of Can-Can dancers doesn’t reach perfection due to the one on the right continuously messing up the routine or the wild animal tamer trying everything he can to control the monster he’s trained for the show. Then there are the mutants and monsters, which can range from the wolf and baboon-like creatures to a sea monster that looks like a distant cousin of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. You may laugh, but these monsters will make you jump the way the Xenomorphs should’ve (but sadly didn’t) in Aliens: Colonial Marines.

There are a couple hiccups, though, when it comes to some of the backgrounds. I found Artyom would on occasion get trapped either within the scenery or somehow stuck inside of a soldier he was trying to kill in a couple spots. A funny one happened later in the game, where after I shot a solider he somehow got stuck in a desk. Nothing that a good update can’t fix, but for now these strange moments raised my eyebrows.

Lastly there’s the soundtrack to Metro: Last Light, which almost reaches the graphics quality. It knows how to set the mood, when a foreshadowing element is about to happen, and when you can and can’t get your hopes up. The voice acting, too, is wonderfully detailed, with just about every conversation from the soldiers and Russian citizens being pretty entertaining. You might just find yourself listening into what the enemy is rambling on about before you decide to pull the trigger.

Players can expect to beat Metro: Last Light in about 10-13 hours, depending on how much time you spend looking around areas for hidden goodies. Those who have preordered the game will be given the option of playing the game on Ranger Mode, a much difficult level setting that gives you more tougher combat, less bullets, fewer hints, and an exclusive rifle to play in that mode. If you didn’t preorder it, though, then you’ll have to buy it as DLC. Currently there is no multiplayer mode, a shame considering how cool it would be to go head-to-head with friends and other gamers in some of these worlds. Fortunately there is a chance multiplayer modes will be added later on, so cross your fingers that it will happen.

PROS:

  • Beautiful worlds, underground cities
  • Captivating story, characters
  • Good weapons system

CONS:

  • Some weird rendering in a few spots
  • No multiplayer modes as of this writing

FINAL THOUGHTS:

From start to finish Metro: Last Light is an enthralling and engaging experience. Its story, characters, and gameplay are light-years better than it was in Metro 2033, correcting the mistakes of the predecessor with a good batch of elbow grease and some nice attention to its details. Bring your gas mask and an extra batch of spending bullets, because once you step into the world of Metro: Last Light, you might just not want to leave.

FINAL GRADE: 9.0 (out of ten)

Xbox 360 review copy provided by Deep Silver

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008 where he is a contributing editor and co-host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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