Nuclear wastelands, mutated monsters that live both above and underground, a conspiracy that could endanger the last safe place for humanity and an alien like creature that may hold the key to the answers.
These are all the things that makes up Metro: Last Light’s story and while it may sound like a lot to take in, Metro pulls it off with only a few bumps in the road.
Inspired by the novel Metro 2033, Last Light is the sequel to Metro 2033 (the game) and takes place a year later, the events at the end of 2033 wiped out what the humans believed to be their enemies, alien like creatures called “The Dark Ones”.
Only one of these creatures is left, a small child that was able to escape and survive the attack on his species, he is never given an actual name but plays a huge part in the game’s story.
Don’t worry if you never played Metro 2033 there’s a cut scene at the start of the game that will tell you the important parts, it actually feels like cliff notes but it gets to the point and allows you to jump into the game quickly.
Artyom, the main character, was born a few years before the fire when nuclear missiles obliterated mankind from the face of the world and razed Moscow to the ground, he took refuge in the Moscow Metro, the largest nuclear bunker ever built, with his mother.
She died in the tunnels while he was still a boy, devoured by rats, leaving him to be raised by the leader of Exhibition Station, this would become his home for the first 20 years of his life.
When a new mutant threat appeared, known as the Dark Ones, one of the Spartan Order of Rangers named Hunter ordered him to take a warning to Polis, the capital of the Metro.
Journeying across the front line between the warring factions of the fascist Reich and communist Redline , he delivered his message only for the Council to reject his pleas for aid, so the Rangers decided on a plan.
Lead by Miller, they forged a path to the legendary bunker of D6, a Pharaohs’ Tomb of forgotten treasures, weapons, technology and supplies. They took control of a long-dormant missile defense system and rained hellfire on the nest of the Dark Ones.
The threat was extinguished but Artyom felt no satisfaction in his deeds.
On his travels, the Dark Ones had tried to make contact with him, where other men were driven mad by their psychic touch, Artyom was immune.
They had a message for him, a message of hope that he ignored, now the secrets of D6 have been laid bare, a glittering prize at the heart of the Metro.
Reich, Redline and Hansa are mobilizing for a war that threatens humanity itself.
Sounds of the Metro
Last Light has some great audio work, the music is a perfect fit and the creatures all have a distinct cry, after hearing a certain cry you can instantly tell what’s coming your way and can properly prepare yourself.
Moscow itself sounds great, you can hear the water in the swamp splash around as mutants are constantly moving and you never know when one of them might jump out and attack.
The flapping of wings as you walk throughout Moscow will keep you on your toes and your wits about you, while not every creature will attack you on sight a good majority will instantly rush after you.
The booming noise of a giant creature preparing for an attack can be a great cue and hearing those noises in the background is nearly bone chilling.
You can hear Artyom’s outfit as it shifts and his boot as they stomp on grass, dirt, mud and water. The audio in the game is great and is one of the best aspects of Last Light.
Listening to civilians talk about current events was interesting as even the most unimportant NPC was well voiced and had something to say, there is even a moment where if you actually listen to a conversation it opens a small side quest that has no real effect on the game’s main story.
The best part is, the game doesn’t tell you it’s a quest, I wanted to help based on what was said and I unknowingly discovered a side mission, I ended up doing this quest and while I didn’t receive a reward in the terms of ammo I was ok with it.
The expressions and gratitude they gave me was enough, which is odd seeing as these people had nothing to do with me nor I them.
It just felt natural because of how well the voices worked and I felt like helping.
The little things that count
The graphics in Metro: Last Light has some hits and misses, but it’s still a great looking game; the Metro itself is wonderful to look at, the walls are rusted and grimy while some of the floors are covered with trash and decay.
The misses comes with some texture pop ins and a few moments where my character model started acting funny, while holding my pistol Artyom’s hands started twitching about, once I switched weapons the twitching stopped.
It’s sad that Last Light doesn’t really encourage exploration, while some areas are open to find collectables the game will put you through tight corridors, it pushes too much on the claustrophobic battles.
But it’s the little details that 4A Games put into their work that makes Metro such a great game to look at. Artyom’s watch looks to be just an add on to the character model, but as I played through the game I noticed the watch actually kept with the time.
That may not sound impressive but what made it great for me was that the watch was keeping up with real time not game time.
I got a message from a friend while playing and I looked at the time on my Xbox 360, when I returned to my game I noticed Artyom’s watch was displaying the same thing.
Players who take the time to look around camp areas filled with civilians will notice some great Easter eggs, I found one that could be a hint at future Metro installments.
The gas mask has some great details to it also, as you take damage the mask will begin to crack, if you take to much damage Artyom will start to breath heavily and begin to gasp for fresh air as the mask will become useless and will need replacing.
Masks cannot be purchased like guns and ammunition, instead you will have to find one either in a casing or off of some poor schmuck who didn’t make it.
Filters are just as important as bullets, in order to walk around certain parts of the Metro and through Moscow players will need to keep a stash of filters.
While you can collect over thirty minutes of filters each one lasts for only five minutes, the timer can be found on Artyom’s watch, again this is tracked in real time.
In the beginning you will have only five minutes to find another filter or else Artyom will start to choke on the toxic air. Finding new filters won’t be hard and only a few areas in the Metro actually requires you to wear the masks.
By the end of the game I had over fourty minutes of filter left over and at times forgot that I wearing a mask.
Bring a gun to the freak show
There are two kinds of enemies in Last Light, humans and mutants, that latter isn’t as fun to fight as they could be.
You will run into some interesting mutants when given the chance to walk above the Metro, some have mutated from familiar real world creatures into horrific monstrosities.
One example are monsters that look like mutated rats but instead of just scurrying around like normal they can jump great distances and moves like an attack dog.
You encounter these creatures fairly often while other mutants, like the giant spiders or mutated crabs, are only shown in certain areas.
Each creature has a certain challenge to them and the first time you fight one you are forced to figure out what is the best way to dispose of them while using as little ammo as you can.
This sounds great and that kept me wondering what else Last Light was going to throw at me, but the game insist on sending waves of rats at you, both above and inside Metro.
Which is a real shame because there are some interesting monsters to fight as you get further in the game, especially when you’re finally able to leave the Metro and walk around what’s left of Moscow.
Ammunition can be very scarce and planning ahead can save you some precious rounds, this makes each battle intense and can even be frustrating.
That’s not a bad thing, usually in shooters the game gives you what feels like unlimited ammo, mainly because you can scavenge ammunition off of your enemies, but in Last Light you can’t pick things off of fallen monsters and the human enemies you do fight barely has ammo on them as well.
Most of the mutants can eat a lot of bullets and when the game sends a bunch of mutated rats your way it feels like it’s trying too hard to be a survival game.
You can carry up to three different guns, five claymores, five pipe bombs, five incendiaries and five throwing knives at once.
The game doesn’t force you to take a heavy or a light, you are free to chose the kind of weapon you want, this gives you strategic choice and it works very well throughout the game.
Each weapon has a strength and weakness, there is a shotgun I was very fond of due to it’s stopping power and fast rate of fire but the trade off was a slow and tedious reload, I died a couple of time because of this and not once did I blame the game.
I chose to take the weapon and when I was in a tight spot used it irresponsibly and wasn’t paying attention to how many rounds I had left.
The story in Metro: Last Light starts off strong and grabs your interest but it’s the gameplay that keeps you coming back for more, Last Light has tight controls and the weapons feel like they actually do some damage.
The game has some interesting weapons, like a air pumped powered gun that shoots steel balls, and each weapon can be modified to your play style.
If you like to play with stealth than you can, if you like to run and gun then you can, Last Light doesn’t punish you for playing one way or the other.
There are no missions that forces you to play with stealth, it won’t end your game just because you got bored with sneaking in the shadows and decided to go all John Woo for the rest of the level.
You can purchase new weapons and attachments but with a trade off, you can only carry three weapons at all time, there are no lockers or cases for players to store their weapons.
This means in order to buy a new gun you will have to trade in one of your three weapons, but you get a small discount on the weapon you are trying to acquire.
The game’s currency is military grade bullets and you earn them by finding some laying around or trade in some of your weapons, but they can also be used as your emergency ammo.
If you ever find yourself in a tight spot with no ammunition you can use your military grade bullets to reload a weapon, by doing this you’re using what little currency you have and you won’t come by a lot of them too often.
Metro: Last Light is a great shooter with the sights and sounds to go with it, despite the strong beginning the story starts to lose itself halfway through and gets muddled with plot twists and new revealings, but picks itself back up near the end with an explosive final battle that would make Call of Duty proud.
The controls are tight and responsive, the music is great, the sound design is brilliant and even though the game has a 10-12 hour campaign it feels quite lengthy.
If you were a fan of Metro 2033 than rest assure that 4A Games has continued the series with flying colors, and if you missed out on the first outing don’t miss this one, Metro: Last Light is a great example of video games adapting from other medias and for that A4 Games and Deep Silver deserves praise.
This review is based off the final code retail copy for the Xbox 360 provided by Deep Silver.
Metro: Last Light is available May 14th on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 for MSRP $59.99 and is rated M for mature by the ESRB