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Metro Last Light Review
A Solid First Person Experience
Metro Last Light is the long awaited sequel to 2010s Metro 2033. A game that has faced a great deal of challenges during it's development, but a finished project that doesn't show a hint of this turmoil. The game isn't Call of Duty or Fallout 3, and that is exactly what makes it amazing. The game is played out in a linear setting without it feeling too linear. A few of the game's chapters even have a lot of freedom to how you complete the objectives given. For example one chapter lets you drive a rail cart, while seeming linear it does give you options to explore. Very much like the swamp boat or highway chapters in Half Life 2. A straight line that's shaped more like a tree branch. A few chapters later you're exploring a swamp in a more freeroam environment. It would appear like this chapter was built as a testing ground for lighting, time cycle, and weather effects (three things that every explorable free roam map needs). The beauty of this particular chapter is the exploring and scavenging. In fact scavenging and exploring in all of the nooks and crannies is an important part of the game, especially if you are playing Ranger Mode difficulty which adds a lot of realism to the combat. If you are playing on Normal mode you still have a challenge, but a good amount of ammo to go with it.
Beginning of Metro Last Light (PS3 version)
Story and Gameplay
The game continues about a year after the events of Metro 2033. You play as the main character Artyum. If you're familiar with Metro 2033 you're in for a treat here as 4A Games have improved upon some of the best aspects of 2033 and fixed some of the biggest gripes. If you are a fan of the original novel, but have not played the first game you are still going to be pleased with the presentation (Last Light's script is penned by Dmitry Glukhovsky, the author of the novel Metro 2033 is based on, and the story is also loosly based on Metro 2034). The story, graphics, and gameplay have all been stepped up from Metro 2033. The stealth system and gas mask mechanics are the most noticeable gameplay changes. Now instead of getting random time limits on each filter you have to change it every five minutes. Any left over filters you have gets added to an overall counter. What makes this new feature helpful is Artyum's new digital watch which displays how much time you have before you need to change it. Speaking of this nifty watch it also serves as your stealth indicator. If the blue light is on you're "lit up like a Christmas tree", light off means no one can see you. The fickle stealth from 2033 has been dumbed down quite a bit, going from challenging but mildly frustrating sneaking, to borderline undetectable ninja-ing. You do have the ability to sneak through the entire game (well most of it) if you like or you can Rambo your way through. Either ways it's pretty satisfying, but the stealth could be better. You do get the option to knock out or kill during the stealth sections but some more options in how you go about this would be welcome.
The shooting mechanics, and guns in general, have been vastly improved and the enemies seem to take less rounds to kill this time around, but don't breathe easy or sigh at the prospect of a Call of Duty clone. 4A Games took the criticism from 2033 seriously and put a lot of work into balancing the enemies and the damage output of the weapons it takes to kill them. Some enemies are armored and must be dispatched with strategy. With that being said the Military grade rounds can be used to easily kill them BUT these rounds are also used as the game’s currency. They have an incendiary effect on enemy flesh whereas in 2033 they were just more powerful with a very badass sound. I actually preferred how they were in 2033. I guess they’re supposed to depict tracer rounds but I’m not personally crazy about the lite-enemies-ablaze thing.
The merchants and item buying have been severely simplified. In Metro 2033 every chapter that had a shop had something different; for example you could buy filters and first aid kits (at a couple points in the game), there was an ammo vendor, weapon vendor, and at a couple of points throughout the game there was an armor vendor. In Last Light now it’s just weapons and ammo; however the weapon vendors also sell weapon customizations. Weapon customizing is different depending on the gun, for example the “Kalash 2012” can only be equipped with various sights while the “Duplet” (or double barrel shotgun) can be modified to have FOUR barrels.
I seriously recommend you play Metro 2033 before you play Last Light as you will get a good idea of the setting. The endings in Metro 2033 were hard to achieve without limiting your play freedom, and in the end the easier ending was chosen as canon for Last Light's opening. However the endings in Last Light are much easier to achieve depending on the choices you make throughout the game. Every action has a consiquence. You can't just reload a previous save and push a different button or walk down a different path. It is this form of game design that makes the experience and the replay value so much better.
Metro Last Light
The Season Pass
The DLC, in the form of the $15 SeasonPass, is a bit of a mixed bag. You get all four DLC packs and a shotgun. Well not just any shotgun, it's the Heavy Automatic Shotgun from Metro 2033's Ranger Pack, now with ability to spew out five rounds at once. The Faction Pack adds one "turret gun" chapter, one awesome freeroam chapter, and a stealth mission that feels half finished. No literally the mission seems to just end when it's really getting started. I'd say it's worth $5 on it's own since that free-roam chapter lasts at least two and a half hours. If you have played Metro 2033 and like exploration you will love this chapter. I whole-heartedly hope Metro 3 has more chapters like that.
The Tower Pack is basically a horde mode in the form of a long chapter. In this chapter (which determines the good ending as canon! Freakin' A!) you play as another unnamed soldier testing out an advanced computer simulator. Each level gets harder as you go and you can earn bullets by killing enemies. With these bullets you can buy allies to help you fight and ammo. This isn't my personal favorite of the packs, but it has a few perks that make it barely worth the price of admission.
The Developer Pack adds a chapter where you play as a guy in a spider infested section of the metro armed with only a flamethrower and a single shot shotgun. It also comes with a special area where you can view 3D models of pretty much every creature and character in the game, a firing range with every weapon in the game, and an arena where you can create battles between human and creature enemies. In this arena you can view the battles from a 360 degree camera and adjust the day/night cycle. The thing that is disappointing though is you can only create battles between certain enemies. I would have loved to see who would win in a fight between a Giant Shrimp and a group of Demons but oh well. Both the firing range and arena come with different mini game challenges. If you get bored with watching the enemies fight you can load up from the firing range and join in on the melee. Just in case you want to see how good the new flamethrower is!
The Chronicles Pack seems to be the second most pointless. You play as Anna from her perspective in Chapter 2 and pretty much plays out exactly as she explains it did later in the game. In one chapter you play as Ulman and Khan during a later section of the game. Khan's level is pretty good as it adds insight into his troubled past, but they seriously couldn't have implanted that into the main game? Then there’s Pavel’s chapter which I assume takes place somewhere around halfway through the game. It’s basically a throw-in chapter where you escape from bandits and make your way back to your allies. I get the feeling these chapters were BETAS that were used as a test ground for what we see in the main game. Not unusual for a small developer to do that but it's not worth paying $5 for their scraps. Even though some of the DLC's are good they kinda come off like PC mods made by the fan base. If you really like Metro Last Light and the series in general go ahead and buy the SeasonPass, it's probably the cheapest SeasonPass out there thanks to Deep Silver's generosity. THQ, the former publisher, would have charged $30. There is a reason they went bankrupt.
It's Worth Getting
4A Games is just a small company based in the Ukraine, who are compiled of developers some of which worked on the STALKER series. The Metro series also has a little bit of the "STALKER blood" in it's veins and for a company that is compiled of only 30+ people you will really appreciate what they managed to do here. It is also surprisingly playable despite the small development staff. If you're a fan of first-person-shooters with a deep atmosphere you will love Metro Last Light, but play 2033 first or even read the book if you don't own an Xbox 360. Either the game or the book is a great lead in for Last Light’s story. I paid $60 for it on release day and was very pleased with my purchase. It's very worth $30 if you can buy it for that.
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