Metro 2033 was one of the best surprises when it released back in 2010. 4A Games created an atmospheric world based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novels that delivered both immersion and tense combat situations. When the sequel was first announced, I could not wait to dig deeper into this macabre world, to discover more about the “Dark Ones” and of course see if the team could deliver a second time. Metro: Last Light brings the same level of quality as its predecessor, with enough new and improved features to make it a worthy sequel. Fans of the original are certainly in for a treat.
The game once again tosses players into the shoes of Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow. The city’s inhabitants have been forced underground due to the highly poisonous radiation on the surface. This area is known as the Metro, and civil war is brewing among the survivors. Instead of uniting, they have broken off into factions, all fighting to obtain a special weapon of mass destruction, housed inside a bunker known as D6. The story picks up almost immediately after the events of the first game, with a specific ending touted as canon. I would highly recommend playing the original for a more robust history on the world, and the Dark Ones, but Last Light has a nice wrap-up intro for those that come in fresh.
The story really drags players into the world of the Metro, but it didn’t satisfy me the way the original did. The last quarter of Metro 2033 had me on the edge of my seat learning about the Dark Ones, but Last Light comes to a head a little sooner, and the finale left me wanting more. It almost felt like the best parts happened before it came to a close. I don’t want to undersell it though; this is still one tense, and exciting story. The 10-12 hours it took for me to complete it was worth every second, and I cannot recommend it for fans of true survival horror enough.
The surface is a constant danger due to the mutated creates lurking above, and anytime someone ventures out there, gas masks are required, as is extreme precaution. 4A Games did a fantastic job of capturing that feeling with the original game, and it is improved significantly here. While desolate, the surface also brings a sad beauty with it. Storms bow trees, while lightning illuminates the world, showcasing its drab appearance. It is amazing at times. I have become numb to most attempts to draw the player into the world, but Last Light had me constantly stopping to snap screenshots, or just admire the locales.
Last Light is strictly a single player experience. There is no online whatsoever. No co-op, no forced competitive play, this experience is strictly about telling Artyom’s story. For anyone who played the original, the structure will feel familiar. I spent most of my time slogging through the dank underground, fighting both mutants and other factions. The gunplay has been significantly improved over the original game. The weapons are still handmade, with unique modifications ranging from pneumatic weapons that require pumping to build pressure, to silenced shotguns.
The ammo as currency system returns, allowing players to trade military grade ammo for new weapons and upgrades. During the journey I came across hub towns where merchants would sell ammo and weapons. I could also opt to load that ammo into my weapons for dire situations. It should be noted that ammo is not a plentiful resource in the Metro, especially when playing on any difficulty above easy. 4A also brought back Ranger mode, which is the true way the game is meant to be played. No HUD, tougher enemies and hardly any ammo, create a tense experience where every single bullet counts. I cannot recommend jumping directly into this mode; it is best to start on normal to get a good feel for the game.
Most of the unique mechanics from the original make a return. I rarely had to enter menus to perform anything outside of quitting. Last Light is designed like that on purpose, to immerse players into the experience. Anytime I wanted to see my objectives I would tap the back button which brought up my lighter and notes. Pulling the left trigger showed my compass, as well as my current objective, while the left trigger sparked my lighter to burn cobwebs. The flashlight is a separate mechanic. Holding down the left bumper brings up a menu where I could select my generator, and pump it with the right trigger, to keep my light at full charge.
It is little things like this that dragged me into the experience. Being in the midst of a gunfight with Watchmen (mutated beasts on the surface) only to have my gas mask need a filter change, is tense. This is why it is always best to keep an eye on the watch, which ticks down how much is left in each filter. Everything I needed to know was always on the screen, without hindering the actual game play. The design is brilliant in a lot of ways.
It would be impossible for me to talk about Metro: Last Light, without mentioning the visuals. This is one amazing looking game thanks to 4A’s proprietary engine. Built entirely from their own tech, the sheer level of detail achieved is astounding. I have never seen a more beautiful post-apocalyptic world in my entire life. I tried out both Xbox 360 and PC versions, and with my NVIDIA card I was able to turn on the advanced Physx engine. The effects of fire and dust particles were simply jaw-dropping. The water effects on the pipes, to the fog that parts on the ground when players move through it, is simply incredible. This might be the best looking game I have played in a while.
The Xbox 360 version was also no slouch. I was thoroughly impressed with how well it held up, even after playing it on my high-end PC. The frame rate suffered on occasion, and the texture pop-up got annoying, but overall it looked great.
The music and sound effects are a mixed bag unfortunately. The opening title theme is entrancing. Hearing the melancholy guitar tune always got me into the world, but combat music felt more abstract, and forgettable. The voice work is pretty good in English; the real treat though is when I switched to Russian with subtitles. The immersion was unparalleled. I recommend doing that after getting the story though, as side conversations are not subtitled, and players will miss quite a bit like that.
Metro: Last Light is a fantastic experience that scratches that survival horror itch better than most games. Playing on Ranger mode is probably the most intense experience I have ever encountered, and the gorgeous visuals really drag players into the dark, damp world. Fans of the original should not hesitate to pick up this amazing follow-up. For those new to the series, I highly recommend playing through both games in the order they were released if you enjoy that type of experience. 4A has created something special, and I think all gamers owe it to themselves to give this series a chance.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670