Metro 2033 was one of the highlights of this generation for me. The portrayal of a post apocalyptic Moscow where the people had retreated underground provided such a sorrowful tale of survival that it stuck with me. The main theme of Metro 2033 was about facing horrors and surviving, something it did very well. Metro: Last Light doesn’t focus on the horror as much but that’s because it instead gives us a story of war, evolution and survival.
The biggest difference between the two titles is the representation of Artyom. In 2033 he was a person unsure of his path and a novice at exploring the dark and dangerous world of the Metro. In Last Light he has grown a lot and is a much more confident explorer and fighter, though he hasn’t lost what made him such a great character to begin with – his own musings on life and the future of the Metro.
The plot of Metro: Last Light is well paced and introduces some great new characters, as well as bringing back some old ones. This time the Metro is getting ready for war. Not against the Dark Ones, who were all but wiped out in 2033, but for the coming conflict between the Nazis, the Communists and the Order, which Artyom is a part of.
They’re all going to war over D6, the installation discovered in 2033 which could effectively offer a secure place to live and supplies that’s now controlled by the Order.
The world of Metro: Last Light seems much more immersive as well, with the society around the story feeling a lot better realised. Instead of portraying the Metro society as a place of bleakness, Last Light offers a much more hopeful view of the world. There are instances where you can witness a conversation wherein someone express a desire for a better world, though some are tinged with sadness.
One of those sadder side events involved a shadow puppet show where the children didn’t know about most of the animals that roam the world today. There’s also a theatre show in one of the stations that brings some light heartedness and offers respite from the fighting.
Beyond the interesting world that the Metro series has built, Last Light does a great job with its characters too. Artyom is a great central character, and several members of the supporting cast are good too, with Pavel standing out as a particular highlight. I won’t give too much away about him but his actions in game really provoke a wide range of emotional reactions.
There’s another character who appears later in the game who has a major effect on the mood of the game, bringing some much needed hope to the broken world.
However, it’s not all good. Female characters really aren’t well represented, often being portrayed as helpless, or sex objects with no real depth to their characters. Anna seems to be the only female soldier in the whole of the Metro.
Last Light is a much more action oriented title than its predecessor, although that’s not a bad thing. While the fear is largely gone, there are still moments throughout the game that are incredibly tense, including brilliantly conceived stealth sections within hostile bases, and run ins with some of the Metro’s most dangerous creatures, which leave you watching as your ammo count really takes a hit.
Those of you who’ve played 2033 will remember that you really don’t want to be spraying your ammo everywhere, as it’s hard to find and can serve as currency. Ammo conservation isn’t the only survival element that carried over from 2033. The gas mask and filters also make a return, as well as the torch and charger.
There have been some improvements to these items and the systems around them though. The gas mask filter timers are much easier to understand this time round, giving precise times for how long they’ll last, though you will still have to scavenge for them when possible. The torch also has a much bigger role this time around as it is a required accessory in some fights where you can use it to push back enemies that have a natural aversion to light.
Light does have a large presence and effect in the game, especially in the sections where you can use a stealthy approach, though if you want to go in guns blazing you can. Within these sections there are torches and lights all over the place that can be used by an enemy to spot you. Extinguish them and the dark will hide you, though the enemies will turn on their own torches. The only way to extinguish those is to take out the light bearers.
It’s here where some of the gameplay falls apart a bit. The stealth sections leading up to taking out the guards are pretty much faultless but the action of taking the guards down needs work.
On more than one occasion I could approach a guard from the side in cover of darkness and get to within a foot on him before I provoked any reaction; even taking them out wouldn’t alert a guard only a few feet away. I was taking out the person silently but when they make a sound I would have expected someone close by to at least turn around.
Though some of these stealth sections could have been a bit improved, I was impressed with how combat had been tightened up this time around. The guns felt a lot more weighty and able to deal more damage, while using throwing knives was very satisfying. They were a massive help in the stealth sections, allowing enemies to be taken out silently from a distance. Only the explosives are a bit of a let down, feeling weak, which meant I only used them on the rare occasions ammo was running low.
Metro: Last Light isn’t without its bugs either. There are issues where sound doesn’t seemed to have been mixed right, giving off a disjointed feeling as the audio repeats, with the edits sticking out like a sore thumb.
There are some visual bugs as well, such as enemies disappearing for a split second, and other characters being able to walk through you. One of the biggest bugs, however was a couple of occasions where you’d enter a void: once I fell through a chair only to be surrounded by darkness and another where a scene glitched. On both occasions I had to reset the game.
- Great story with character evolution.
- The survival and stealth elements have been improved.
- Visuals look really good.
- Atmosphere of the world is just as brilliant as it was in 2033.
- The end sequence is well executed.
- Some bug issues with the audio and visual.
- Female characters not given much depth.
Overall Metro: Last Light is a really good experience. There’s enough here for fans of action, stealth and survival to enjoy. Though the series seems to have moved on from being scary the majority of the time, it does this progression in a way that feels natural. Artyom is no longer the scared individual you saw in 2033, but instead a Ranger who tackles his mission, even though it can get tense. With a bit more work Last Light could have been close to a perfect game, but the few bugs it has do detract from the overall experience.