Metro: Last Light Review
Fantastic atmosphere and immersion, and almost flawless gameplay.
Short, about a 6-7hr play time. Story can be confusing at times, so pay attention.
I only played Metro: 2033 after years of picking it up off the shelf, looking at it for a few minutes only to put it back, but when I received a copy of it in the THQ Humble Bundle I really had no reason to not play it. Ever since that day I have been kicking myself that I didn’t get it earlier, because within the first ten minutes I was in love. And upon hearing about the sequel, then named Metro: 2034, I will admit of a faint girlish squeal.
Metro: Last Light is set a year after the events of 2033, with our survivor Artyom suffering from constant nightmares and visions, since the missile strike against the Dark One hive. When the slightly crazy Kahn informs you of a single Dark One that survived the strike, and wants to meet with it and make peace. But that’s all I’m going to tell you!
If you played 2033 you will feel right at home once again as the control scheme and gameplay are basically the same, with a few significant improvements. For me, the biggest improvement is that they changed the way throwing weapons work. Instead of having to change weapons to use your throwing knives or grenades, they have made throwing weapons a hotkey. With this simple change, they made the throwing knives the single most amazing weapon ever! With the power to silently one-hit any human enemy, and you can recover the knife from the corpse of your victim, they are seriously overpowered! I was also very happy to see a revised weapon upgrade system, before in 2033 you had to rely on luck to get your favourite weapon with the attachments you wanted. Now, however, you can purchase the upgrades individually at any weapon merchant. I was particularly fond of the Tihar Air Rifle with the pre-war valves (allowed it to stay over pressurized) and a Night-Vision scope.
Last Light has also received a huge graphical boost, while 2033 didn’t look bad, Last Light looks stunning! I could stare at the sun setting over the ruined buildings of post-apocalyptic Moscow for hours… if I didn’t have fear of running out of air filters and chocking to death or being carried away by a Demon to be fed to her babies. Also, it is nice to see Moscow in a different season. While during 2033 we were plunged deep into Winter and the skies were grey and snow and ice were covering everything. Now, Spring has sprung and the snow is melting, making way for toxic marshes, vines climbing the ruins and blue skies… and a whole new host of mutants waiting to tear you apart. However, that water has to go somewhere, down, leading to some visually amazing partially flooded section of the Metro.
Unlike in 2033, you also spend a much more significant time outside. So, you can imagine that air filters become more frequently found and can be stolen off of corpses. While this is a good thing, it also completely removes the tense feeling you got in 2033 when running around on the surface, so many times I would be down to my last filter, my gas-mask cracked and fogging up, hearing the heavy stuttering breaths of Artyom as I scrounge and hope that the next room will have a new filter. But from an early point in Last Light I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have so many filters I couldn’t actually pick anymore up. However, they heavily limited the amount of ammo that you can carry, so when fighting a particularly hard and numerous pack of Nosalis I did happen to run out of ammo on several occasions. This did make ammo conservation much more important… So, a step in the right direction, but then a step backwards.
When it comes down to it, the best thing Metro as a series has going for it, is the brilliant atmosphere. When in the tunnels, it’s dark, it’s quiet, it’s claustrophobic and you never know what will be around the next corner, or hiding in the next shadow. But, when on the surface, you almost feel like you have nothing to worry about. It’s bright and sunny, open and spacious and peaceful, but there is something very un-nerving and off putting about the ruining buildings and crashed planes that make me want to go back to the confines of the Metro and to the nearest friendly station. Metro has tremendous opportunity to be an amazing open-world sandbox game… One can dream. They also added the brilliant little mechanic to wipe of blood and debris from your gas-mask that really helps nail the immersion!
But, seriously, do not miss out on Metro: Last Light. If you have been unsure whether to pick it up and play, DO IT! But first grab a copy of Metro: 2033, because you might be a little confused at what is going on. Now, I shall be off to finish Last Light again, because I found out it has alternate endings.
Oh, also, if you see it, grab a copy of the Metro: 2033 novel written by Dmitry Glukhovsky. It is what the game was based on and it is a damn fine read. Many thanks to Lemon for giving me a copy to read!