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Metro: Last Light

Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Stealth/ Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:

Metro 2033's potential for greatness was hard to deny. However, neither were the myriad problems that kept the title from achieving it. Metro: Last Light, on the other hand, is extraordinary. It's an intense, gripping, and sometimes frightening adventure that should be experienced by anyone looking for something a little different in their first-person shooting.

Metro: Last Light has the whole atmosphere thing down pat. This is an incredibly immersive game that sinks its hooks deep within you and never lets go. Its dark, moody, and oppressive environments lend a sense of drama and fear to the gameplay. Last Light knows that what you don't see is often scarier than what you see, and what you can barely see is even scarier than that. Monsters slip in and out of darkness without any warning or announcement, and as a result, the experience is made all that much more realistic.

Sound design is easily one of Last Light's strong suits. All of the characters are expertly voiced with the best Russian accents I've heard in any game. These survivors are full of humanity and humor, and they are a joy to visit with. Gameplay sounds are even better: when you're exploring the untamed subterranean wilderness, silence dominates. When monsters appear, they do so without any fanfare. They just slink out of the darkness and approach with deadly urgency. The music is also excellent, lending a sense of gravitas and pure emotion to the already-involving story.


Depending on your actions in Metro 2033, you may or may not have been given a choice at the end: to destroy or save the mysterious Dark Ones living in the Botanical Gardens. This in-game choice was a poor idea in retrospect, as Dmitry Glukhovsky's book ends with the bombardment of the Botanical Gardens and the presumed eradication of the Dark Ones. Also, regardless of whether or not you were given a choice, Metro: Last Light assumes that you destroyed the Gardens. As Artyom (newly-christened Spartan Ranger due to the events of the previous game), you discover that a Dark One has survived the missile attack. At the very end of Metro 2033, Artyom was possessed by a vision that informed him that the Dark Ones were ultimately a peaceful race who wanted to help humanity. Of course, in the series canon, the vision came too late. In Last Light, Artyom must contend with those who think the Dark Ones were evil (that is to say, just about everyone else). His quest to reach the Dark One is interrupted by the violent intervention of the factions that currently rule the underground. The story is extremely compelling, and the setting is seductive despite its overwhelming bleakness. You'll want to see Artyom's journey through.

Part of that desire will stem from the fact that Metro: Last Light is such a joy to play. Like Metro 2033, this game is a linear shooter with strong survival horror sensibilities. While you are always moving from one place to another, the game encourages exploration. However, what makes Metro: Last Light different from other shooters is that this is not a power fantasy. You are neither at the top or the bottom of postapocalyptic Moscow's food chain. Your resources are limited, and there are things in the darkness that can (and will) kill you without so much as a second thought. It's this tension that makes Last Light so special.


Metro: Last Light isn't as difficult as Metro 2033, if only because the gameplay is improved. Mobility is improved, combat options are expanded, and level design allows for a great deal of improvisation. Human enemy artificial intelligence isn't terribly bright, but the scavenging murderers who prowl the tunnels of the Metro are no less fun to put down. Friendly artificial intelligence is much better; when you're not alone, your companions are more than capable of thinning out the herd for you, allowing you to conserve your ammunition.

Ranger Mode is another matter entirely. It deprives you of your head-up display and makes ammunition much more scarce. This ratchets up the intensity significantly and tests your mettle with ruthless glee. It also makes the game much scarier. It's possible, but only just. Hardcore players will flock to this mode.

Game Mechanics:

Metro: Last Light can be an action game, a stealth game, or some combination of the two. What's great about this is that both gameplay styles are excellent fun regardless of which one you choose to take. The stealth is extremely intense and gratifying, while the gunplay is a huge step up from Metro 2033's.

Artyom's journey frequently leads him into danger, and much of that danger comes from his fellow human beings. The drones of the Nazi Reich or the Communist Red Line are not pleasant individuals, and will shoot on sight. All of these situations can be handled differently. One strategy might have Artyom extinguishing candles and lights to move freely in the darkness, while another might have him luring individuals away from groups in order to take them down silently. Of course, he can simply walk in and start shooting up the place. The important thing to know about Last Light is that all of these approaches are fun and viable. But in a world where bullets are equal parts money and life, the smarter ranger is usually the one who stays alive.

When Artyom is not fighting for his life, he is exploring abandoned tunnels and scouring the uninhabitable surface. Much of the air has been tainted, and he must put on a gas mask when the situation calls for it. The air is so poisonous that filters are rendered useless in a matter of minutes. As in Metro 2033, Artyom must stay vigilant in his search for unused filters and replace his mask when it becomes too damaged to see through. He's also got a flashlight (which must be recharged periodically), which can ward off light-averse Spiderbugs. When that fails, he can use a lighter to illuminate his compass/notebook and burn away cobwebs. Everything lends itself very well to the survival motif.

Even if Metro 2033 left you wanting, you owe it to yourself to play Metro: Last Light. It fixes nearly everything that was wrong with its predecessor and adds a wealth of new and improved gameplay options. On top of that, it has a remarkably engaging story to tell. Metro: Last Light stands tall as one of the most memorable games of 2013.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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