“A wise man once said: ‘He who leads a war for the love of his fellow man, will defeat his enemies.’ I lead my war protecting my family and friends, protecting my home – the metro. We had won. But to this day I wonder: When we burned the Dark Ones from the face of the earth, was something lost as well?” -Artyom (Metro 2033)
A year has passed since the events of Metro 2033, many things have changed: Artyom is now a Ranger, the icy Surface has begun to melt, and D6 (the underground vault you traveled to in 2033) is now your home. For fans of survival-horror, Metro 2033 was a special experience – if you were able to look past it’s (many) flaws, that is. Metro: Last Light has improved on almost everything the original offered, but in the process, has forgotten to add anything new.
From minute one, Metro veterans should feel right at home as they wander around D6 with Khan – a fellow soldier, who believes a single Dark One has managed to survive the missile strike Artyom ordered in the final moments of Metro 2033. Artyom’s mission is to hunt down the remaining Dark One and attempt to capture it… after a short tutorial, of course (sigh).
During the tutorial, we’re introduced to Last Light‘s new and (massively) improved weapons (it’s obvious the developers listened to feedback from fans, and it’s a good thing they did), gunfights are actually enjoyable this time round: the mix of powerful, gritty weapons, improved animations, and destructible scenery make battles both an intense and extremely satisfying experience – especially on the Ranger difficulty (which we recommend everyone plays), where weapons are even more powerful but have less ammo, so you must make every shot count.
Following the tutorial, we’re introduced to Last Light‘s first stealth section. From this point on, right to the game’s final chapter, every section that has human enemies can be played as either a shooter, a stealth game or a mix of the two. Artyom can now unscrew light bulbs (or simply shoot them out), he can also approach enemies from behind and either knock them out, or slit their throat. This makes for a very enjoyable experience, although it’s maybe a little too easy…
Unfortunately, enemies have been dumbed down quite a lot: shoot out a light bulb that’s hanging just above their head and they’ll freak out, but moments later they’ll mumble something like “must have been the wind” and will quickly return to their default position – which is now pitch black. Brilliant. Sadly, they’re no better in gunfights either, they’re the kinds of enemies that will often hide behind walls and repeatedly stick their head out until you eventually score a headshot, rather than just changing locations every now and then or trying to advance on your position. This is only a minor issue, and honestly, most of the time you won’t even notice, it’s just that when you do, it can break the immersion a little bit.
In Metro 2033, there were often times where you’d just be wandering around the tunnels by yourself, these were undoubtedly the best, most frightening sections in the game, which made you feel extremely vulnerable. Last Light rarely lets you do this, instead, you’re often forced to walk at a snail’s pace while a slow moving, slow talking character explains everything you have to do in insane detail. This is Last Light‘s major issue, and one that will unfortunately ruin the game for many players. You’re almost never allowed off the leash the developers have placed around your neck, and when you finally are, they’ll narrow your path even more, so that you don’t wander off anywhere and instead focus on your objective.
Underground areas are often claustrophobic and force you along a single, straight path, even the sections on the surface are extremely linear, at first they seem so open and exciting, until you realize you’re completely surrounded by invisible walls – which are disguised as destroyed buildings and radiated water. It feels like a waste, it’s obvious the developers put so much effort into making you feel like you’re part of this world, you’d think they would want you to actually explore it more. They’ve added in small, excellent features such as the ability to wipe blood/mud off your gas mask, or being able to shoot the gas masks off enemy soldiers on the surface, causing them to slowly suffocate. These are amazing features, but you’re simply never able to fully appreciate them because you’re always being pushed along a tight path.
In the end, Metro: Last Light is an enjoyable game, but it just never quite reaches the heights of Metro 2033. This is simply more of the same, is that a good or bad thing? That depends entirely on whether or not you enjoyed the original. 7/10
-Bill Boreham (Follow on Twitter @AngEalsh)