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Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: 4a-games Official Site: http://metro.thq.com
Publisher: THQ
Release Date:
Metro: Last Light

Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: 4a-games
Official Site: http://metro.thq.com
Publisher: THQ
Release Date:
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Metro: Last Light Review
Review By @ 11:17am 17/05/13
Metro 2033 was the sort of game that you’d fondly compliment with words like ‘unpolished’ and ‘messy’. There was a certain genuineness to the 2033 experience, a grimy, gritty feeling, and a sense that the developers had a very specific vision and weren’t too fussed at the compromises they’d have to make to achieve it. It wasn’t like the other shooters on shelves – it was hard (often brutally so), it didn’t hold your hand, and it had small touches of realism that made it hard to forget. Plus it was an adaptation of a Russian novel, and how many Call of Duty games can you say that about?

Games like Metro 2033 don’t often get higher-budget sequels, which makes Last Light, by mere virtue of its existence, a bit of an unexpected treat. But Last Light is quite clearly aiming at a wider audience – an audience who enjoys that things games always do now where something explodes nearby, debris nearly hits the protagonist, and then an NPC shouts at them while they try to overcome their sudden temporary hearing loss. It’s recognisably Metro, with its gas masks and portable generators and the like, but it also has the cartoonishly drawn villains, overblown set-pieces and boobs that you’d sooner expect from other shooters.

Metro: Last Light continues the adventures of Artyom, assuming that you got the first game’s darker ending (which most players did, because 2033’s morality system was extremely subtle and one sided…but also very clever). It doesn’t follow the sequel to the original book (Metro 2034, which goes off in another direction entirely), but features a unique plot that, funnily enough, lifts some of its dialog from Dmitry Glukhovsky’s original 2033 novel. If you missed the original: Moscow has, following a nuclear event, been forced into the metro stations running underground, the motherland now too irradiated (and filled with mutated monsters) to live in.

Last Light assumes that Metro 2033 – spoilers ahead – ended with Artyom destroying the ‘dark ones’, a powerful, terrifying new race that had appeared on the planet’s surface, which the player/reader comes to realise may have been a terrible mistake. The themes culminating from this decision are delved into without much subtlety in this sequel (the fact that many of the early enemies identify as Nazis is indicative of a wider embrace of being blatant). The story sends you across a wide tract of Russia, both above and below ground, and features a few fun twists before eventually delving deep enough into its own mythology to start seeming a little ridiculous. Once again there’s a ‘happy’ and an ‘unhappy’ ending, although the game sort of chickens out on its own inherent bleakness by the time you get there.

There’s a heavy – and welcome – emphasis on world-building in Last Light, on the moments in-between the firefights. At numerous intervals, Artyom puts his gun away to explore settlements, overhear long, occasionally interesting conversations, shop for guns and ammo, and in a few select cases, ruin or improve the lives of the people he encounters. Simply wandering around a well-designed area can sometimes tell you more about what’s at stake than any cutscene or forced dialog can, but Last Light has one huge, weird problem that hangs over many of these sections – in-game advertisements for Glukhovsky’s novels.

There’s a copy of Metro 2033 in Artyom’s room in Polis, which seems like a cute, albeit overdone, visual gag when you encounter it 20 seconds into the game; when you encounter Metro 2033, 2034 and 2035 on a table a minute later, alarm bells start to go off. Worst of all are the giant posters plastered around advertising the impending release of the book Metro 2035. ‘Prepare yourself for the book that will blow up the entire world’, the posters declare, complete with a URL and release date of December 2013 (keeping in mind, once again, that this game is set in a post-apocalyptic Russia circa 2033/34). This is absurd, ludicrous and awful – it’s perhaps the most out-of-place in-game advertising we’ve ever seen.

You’ll spend most of your time here with a gun in your hand, which is where both Metro games are clearly most comfortable. While there are only a handful of weapons in the game, the ways they can be customised make for a far more varied experience. Ditch your pistol for a dead enemy’s pistol and you might find that you now have, in addition to the silencer your old model carried, a night vision scope and an extended magazine; alternatively, maybe your new shotgun has four barrels instead of two. It’s not exactly Borderlands, but it doesn’t need to be, and getting to grips with how new guns handle is one of the game’s most enjoyable aspects.

There’s an even split between human and mutant enemies here, and you spend a surprising amount of time above ground this time around. Being on the surface requires wearing a gas mask and finding air filters, which can lead to some incredibly tense moments as your oxygen starts to run out in the middle of a fight, but towards the end of the game you’re spending so much time up there, and finding so many filters on the bodies of your enemies (if you’re not trying to ghost through the levels, which you don’t need to because being a stealthy assassin is incredibly easy – more on that in a bit) that the novelty starts to wear off a bit.

The mutants that live on the surface and in certain parts of the metro don’t always make for interesting opponents, either, generally attacking in the same patterns over and over until you’ve sufficiently riddled their faces or soft spots with bullets. There’s one interesting enemy early on that can only be hurt if you’ve shone your flashlight on it sufficiently, Alan Wake style, but they’re an exception.

Your encounters with armed soldiers tend to be more interesting, in that there are often fun, albeit overly easy to execute, stealth options available. 4A Games have cooked up some really great areas, full of shadows and light-sources and multiple high/low positions to make use of, and then populated them with largely stupid, seemingly blind enemies. When things go well, you don’t so much feel like a predator as the Predator, able to indiscriminately and silently murder while the soldiers quake in their boots, unable to find you if you’re not directly under a beaming light.

But enemies can overwhelm you by sheer number, and when things do go wrong it’s very possible to fight your way out of a situation and reclaim the darkness, which is a lot of fun. Still, this is a substantially easier game than the original – even on Hardcore difficulty – which makes it extremely disappointing that the much harder ‘Ranger’ mode is only available as DLC, made free to folks who preordered the game or available online for a small fee. Considering that it’s a thing that affects the entire game, and not something you can really decide you want to use on a first run-through without trying it out first, it’s a disappointing omission, and a grim sign of where things are headed with DLC in general.

It’s also worth noting that, in the PS3 version we played, audio glitches were extremely common. The game looks great on consoles, substantially more polished than its predecessor, but we had multiple issues where audio would cut out or dialog would repeat several times. From what we’ve heard this doesn’t seem to be an issue for the PC version, at least.

Metro: Last Light is a fine shooter, an exciting, fun ride, but it’s not necessarily the Metro game we wanted. We miss 2033’s punishing difficulty and its willingness to experiment, to make you suffer, to pull you down into the mud its characters spent every day in. But for many, Last Light’s changes will simply make the experience less intimidating and more enjoyable, and it’s hard to begrudge the game too hard when it’s still delivering such a fine experience.
What we liked
  • Strong aesthetic design
  • Great weapon customisation options
  • Fun stealth sections
What we didn't like
  • Lots of audio glitches (in the PS3 version at least)
  • Unbelievably blatant and ridiculous in-game advertisements
  • Not quite the rough-and-tumble experience we were after all the way through, often feeling and playing like every other shooter on the market
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 12:21pm 17/5/13
Metro Defence Force, Activate!

Why the f*** are you reviewing this on PS3? Why does it say that you reviewed the 360 version? The PC version is far superior to the console equivalents, why not try and review the best one available?

I also disagree that the ingame ads are blatant, I didnt even notice them and its not like they're plastered everywhere like the horrible ads in Shaun White, or shoved in your face like the ipod in Metal Gear. How about that Nissan Leaf bulls*** in Simcity? Seriously, if you're going to call it the worst in the biz, you've got to take into account some of the egregious s***e from gaming past.

I'm currently playing through on Ranger Hardcore mode (the one without the hud) and its excellent. The scarcity of ammo means that every fight matters and the fact that they dont make all the enemies bullet sponges stops it from getting frustrating. I tried to play through Bioshock Infinite on its hardest difficulty, but it just wasnt fun pumping a million bullets into every enemy. Last Light on the other hand is an excellent example of how to do hard difficulties.

Seeing how far 4A Games have come warms the c***les of my heart. This game can hold its own against pretty much any other story based single player FPS on the market, it's dripping with atmosphere, looks gorgeous and has a relatively fresh storyline that's less about power fantasy and more about survival.
Posted 12:12pm 17/5/13
Just fixed that eski, cheers.

I'm playing through Metro 2033 at the moment just to freshen up on some details, but can anyone tell me whether saves are taken into account for Last Light? I've heard that they do but then I also heard that they don't and I'd be interested to know (Google has failed me so far).
Posted 12:15pm 17/5/13
You forced him to rewrite the review and give it a 10?



Just kidding <3 Jickle

edit - Not 100% on this, but I would say saves are not taken into account. I can only remember one point in 2033 where I got to choose a path, and it seems like the outcome of that event has been fixed in one direction for Last Light. You don't even really need to have played the first to play the second. The stories aren't heavily connected, and Last Light pretty much stands on its own.

2x edit - actually I forgot about all that morality stuff, but there's no obvious feature for porting saves to LL, so I doubt it.
Posted 12:27pm 17/5/13
Hey eski,

I played on a PS3 because my computer wasn't up for the task of the PC version. I know plenty of other people would be in that same boat, and I thought it was worth noting the issues I encountered because they seemed specific to the version I was playing. As I said in the review, this is clearly a game meant to be played on PC if you can!

The posters stand out in Metro because they really severely affect the tone and setting the game has established. Here's a photo I took from a later section: https://twitter.com/Jickle/status/334931595461005312

Shaun White wasn't a particularly serious game (I assume you're talking about the skateboarding one?), and Metal Gear has always been very offbeat. I found these posters extremely jarring. It's like if Kirk and Spock took a break during Into Darkness to watch a re-run of Next Generation!

I might give the game a full replay on Ranger mode (I was given a code by PR), although I thought using it on my first run and reviewing based on it would be a bit unfair because it's not actually a part of the game out of the box. I'm be interested to hear what other people think about this stance, actually, because this sort of thing is going to get more and more common I think...

And no, saves don't carry over, the plot is based on one assumed ending!
Posted 12:41pm 17/5/13
Also - potentially controversial statement I didn't want to include in the review - I'd say that I enjoyed this game more than Bioshock Infinite.

(Here's hoping for a GOTY edition with 'Better than Bioshock Infinite! - Ausgamers' on the cover now).
Posted 01:08pm 17/5/13
Cheers Jickle!

Hah, I can't believe I missed that massive poster. I get what you're saying in that it isn't necessarily the worst advertising in a game, but it's out of place in a game that is all about immersion. I've heard that the first book is included with one or other of the games, I might have a read later.

It's like if Kirk and Spock took a break during Into Darkness to watch a re-run of Next Generation!

I would watch that movie. Probably twice. Mostly because Next Gen is infinitely superior to the new movies, but that's a debate for another day.

I didn't realise that the Ranger mode was pre-order DLC, kinda sad to find out, as that's a pretty gross move. It's like they were looking for stuff to trim out for the online pass, but they f***ed up because it's definitely something that should be included with the base game.

potentially controversial statement I didn't want to include in the review - I'd say that I enjoyed this game more than Bioshock Infinite.

OMG me too, at least so far, it's definitely scratching that itch more than Booker and his hook-hands.
Posted 03:56pm 17/5/13
I agree with eski. Fantastic game. Should have been reviewed on PC, didn't really break immersion from the in game ads, but the ranger dlc should have been free. solid game.
Posted 02:27am 19/5/13
I am almost finished it on normal. It is a good solid singleplayer FPS. I cant help but think of how awesome it would be if it was a lot more open/sandbox.

I think I would enjoy a FPS/RPG spin-off a lot more. Being able to go to these other areas you see on the map/loading screen would be cool. Also exploring the surface and looking for stuff to survive.

Still a solid game and its enjoyable, after all, who the hell does not like post nuclear holocaust settings.
Posted 05:57am 19/5/13
Just finished it. Pretty much the best SP shooter since the original - 9.5/10. Guess Im the only one who likes linear stuff.
Posted 08:20am 19/5/13
IT can't be the best single player Shooter, that was Bioshock infinite's incredibly boring shooter play!
Posted 11:36am 19/5/13
atmosphere in this game is second to none, the lighting and details in every little bit of it are just awesome. I'm also playing it with Russian voice over and English subs, much better than listening to the s***** english voice acting.
I don't agree with a 7.5, but then I don't agree with a lot of your (AG as a whole) reviews anymore so meh.
Posted 05:45pm 19/5/13
7.5 seems low but is on the PS3 version...so it does not really count. I would give it 8-9. Great single player experience but could be less linear.

Here are some screenshots I have taken.
Posted 06:08pm 19/5/13
Post some pics of the stripper in the game.

A DVD worth checking out - chernobyl diaries. Its an average horror movie but after playing both metro 2033 and stalker the movie is kinda similar and i enjoyed it.
Posted 06:23pm 19/5/13
i don't read the AG reviews, they are very shallow. The forum user reviews are much better because the players bought the game with anticipation (and with their own money too so they are looking for value). A lot of the AG reviews sound like the reviewer were forced to play at gunpoint. I suggest if playing games is a chore then this is not a good career choice.
Posted 11:03pm 19/5/13
Well, its not Moscow just various buildings (or ruined versions of) from Moscow thrown around in a random manner.


The "Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya" (tall building on the left) is several KM's from the Bolshoi theatre (smaller building center of frame)

This wont bother 99% of the world but I'd rather it be more accurate, at least to some degree if they are going to call it Moscow.

Here is a shot of one of the wonders of Moscow. (Oh, and the Bolshoi theatre is in the background of the shot :p)

I was lucky enough to be there a couple of weeks ago.
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