2010 saw the release of Metro 2033 for the PC and the Xbox 360 which was developed by 4A Games and published by the now defunct THQ. Based off the novel of the same name, it was a tragic story about mankind’s struggle in the underground Metro Station against monsters, poverty and each other. The protagonist Artyom, was out on a mission to save his station from the mysterious “Dark Ones”. As he carries out his journey, he discovers that there is more to the Dark Ones than meets the eye. The game was highly acclaimed for it’s powerful storytelling, stunning visuals and challenging, exciting gameplay. Artyom and mankind’s fight for survival was far from over, thus 4A Games and new publishers Deep Silver looks to return players to the terrifying world of the Metro once more with Metro: Last Light.
Having destroyed the Dark Ones with a devastating multi-missile strike, Artyom is now a member of the peacekeeping faction The Rangers of the Order. Along with many other people, he has made the newly discovered D6 Military Station his new home. However, they learn that one of the Dark Ones has survived and now Artyom must confront this Dark One to discover what’s going on as this creature may hold the key to help the remnant of mankind survive the coming storm.
Metro Last Light plays very much like it’s predecessor. You’ll be crawling through the dark, dingy tunnels of the Metro, staying alert from trigger-happy guards and ravenous mutant monstrosities. Some of the monsters hunt in packs, some use the ceiling and walls to disorientate and surprise, some can even fly and lunge at you from the sky. The Communists, Fourth Reich and Hanseatic League guards are armed to the teeth and will no doubt use you for target practice if they see you. There are times when you’re forced to go in guns blazing against overwhelming odds, however the best course of action involves staying in the shadows while either sneaking past enemies or killing them quietly. There are always hidden passages where many guards are situated which you can use to avoid coming up close and personal with the enemy.
The environments in the Metro are mostly cramped, narrow corridors which create the unpleasant feeling of claustrophobia and being trapped with whatever awaits you and even the open spaces of the surface feel harrowing as it’s nothing but a barren wasteland with a radiated atmosphere and an infestation of unnatural monstrosities. You’ll need your Gas Mask on at all times with plenty of filters if you want to survive the toxic environment. Thankfully you’re given a powerful arsenal to stand up for yourself including rifles, pistols and shotguns and many of them feature attachments such as scopes and silencers. You’re able to customize naked weapons with silencers, scopes and much more. You can also use throwing knives and close-quarter attacks to silently dispatch enemy guards while saving ammunition. You have all the tools to fight back against the evils of the Metro and you’re also able to use the environment to your advantage. If you successfully utilize all at your disposal, then you’ll soon become the most feared and skillful Ranger in all of the Metro.
The Metro once again looks stunning with the 4A Engine bringing the world of Metro Last Light to life. From the decrepit, dirty and dark tunnels to the harrowing open spaces of the surface, the presentation of the whole game is totally immaculate. The detail level, the effects, the character models, everything is utterly striking and presents the gloomy world of Metro Last Light with stunning fidelity. The superb sound design also help bring this dangerous and unforgiving world to life. Varied ambient sounds of snarling beasts, scurrying mice, dripping water, machinery and chatting guards are heard as you creep through the dark tunnels, the strong wind and howls of monsters echo throughout the surface, weapons resonate deafening gunblasts and all of this is accompanied by an atmospheric and dynamic musical soundtrack.
The story of the Metro is more gripping and heartbreaking than ever before, with mankind facing the harsh consequences of their own actions towards each other. The differences and disputes between nations ultimately lead to the destruction of the world and now the survivors must live with this dystopian society where life is miserable, simple commodities are luxuries and where almost no-one who leads the people of the Metro have the people’s interest at heart, instead favoring their own egos and ideals. As Artyom you see though his eyes what tragedy lies within Metro Last Light. You feel attached to the characters while you witness what they’re going through and either pray for their safety or swear revenge on them. You discover the horrifying truth of life in the Metro that even with all the monstrous beasts lurking within the Metro and on the surface and even when mankind is on the verge of extinction, the biggest threat that mankind will ever face is mankind itself.
Metro Last Light is a marvelous piece of work. The visuals and the audio are simply astounding and the gameplay is intense, exciting and challenges you to become a true Ranger of the Metro. The game also manages to immerse you into it’s world and turns you into a citizen of the Metro, witnessing first hand the cruelty of this tragic reality the game is based in. There are a few snags in the game however that spoil the atmosphere and break the player’s immersion with the game.
The game has some bizarre glitches such as NPCs legs bending upwards while they hover across the ground, NPCs walking through you and walking through walls. The AI can usually be brutal but there are times when it causes some of the NPCs to behave strangely. Some monsters run continuously away from you and charge at the wall and some guards don’t even notice you standing next to them when you’re sneaking around. Companions who accompany you in some parts of the game never seem to get a kill and miss their targets completely, which results in you and your companion becoming overwhelmed.
The campaign is fairly long, around 10-12 hours and it’s always worth another playthrough to get the alternative ending. There’s added DLC which unlocks Ranger Mode that’ll greatly increase the difficulty. However aside from that there isn’t really much incentive to play the game again. You’ll be doing a few extra things to obtain another ending but ultimately the game will pretty much be the same as what you did before.
In Metro 2033 every shot fired, every syringe used, every gas filter for your mask was absolutely precious. Even on normal difficulty you began with the game with almost nothing to defend yourself with and had to rely on scavenging, sneaking and using precise shots to save ammunition. The weapons in that game felt weak and useless against the well-armed guards and more imposing monsters. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case here when playing on normal as you’re given access to very powerful weapons early on in the game and there’s plenty of ammunition to go around, since you mostly encounter human enemies with ammunition and medkits to spare. This makes the game loose it’s survival horror feel and while there are moments when the game can become truly horrifying, the horror is easily addressed in a hail of gunfire. Playing on Ranger difficulty is the way the game was meant to be played.
Metro Last Light is an absolutely brilliant, moving piece of work with a blend of survival-horror and first-person shooting, accompanied by glorious graphics and sound design. Not only that, it pushes your back with both hands and forces you to walk through a dark, bleak dystopia full of pain and suffering where you witness the perversion of nature and the cruelty of what man is capable of doing to each other. It’s disturbing, it’s upsetting and it’s perfect motivation for you to put things right. Metro Last Light is truly the game to get if you’re willing to prepare yourself for the pain, the misery and the intensity you’ll be experiencing.
This review is based on a digital download copy of the game for the PC provided by Deep Silver.