by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Back in the USSR
Let me say this straight at the topÖI havenít played the original Metro 2033. It was one of those games that I purchased cheaply on Steam after it had already been reviewed and given the thumbs up by a compatriot here on the site. But, despite the critical acclaim, Iíve found myself continually skipping over it as new games arrive and need to be reviewed. After playing Metro: Last Light, however, I think Iíll be heading back to the original if it is anything like the latest installment.
Metro: Last Light, like its predecessor, is a scavenger themed FPS set in, around, and under a Russian wasteland brought about by a nuclear apocalypse. Gamers reprise the role of Artyom, a Ranger of the Order, the man who in the original called down the missile strike on the Dark Ones. It is also thought that he may have some connection with Dark Ones. At the end of Metro 2033, it was thought that all the Dark Ones were destroyed with the catastrophic missile attack. But, it appears that one young Dark One survived and Artyom is initially tasked with finding and destroying the creature.
Much of the story is told through cut scenes where the gamer loses control of Artyom. It is in these cut-scenes that you get a sense of Artyomís indecision, whether or not he is doing the right thing. Throughout the game, Artyom will befriend a number of people from various factions and there is always a sense that they cannot be trusted despite them helping out. Some of the cut-scenes are quite lengthy though and rather than being an interactive experience, they result in the gamer simply being a viewer. It helps to push the story along, but at the expense of the gameplay.
The gameplay is rather good though. Combat is less concerned with mutants in Last Light, but rather focuses on the interactions between the opposing factions in the Metro. Yes, there are still mutants such as the wolf-like Watchers who scavenge above ground and the scorpion-like creatures running around the tunnels, but the human combatants are the main focus. Being a Ranger, Artyom has various enemy factions to contend with. Reds (Communists), Nazis and even Bandits frequently make an appearance throughout the game. None of them like each other as they are contesting for control of the Metro. But at times throughout the game, Artyom will require the help of various members of the factions to help with his main quest involving the young Dark One.
The Sound of Silence
The music really sets the tone of the game. There is an eerie background tune throughout the game, but during combat scenes the pace picks up, giving a sense of drama which doesnít let go until youíve disposed of all the enemies in the immediate vicinity. The sound effects are equally impressive. Letting a few rounds off with the silencer attached to the pistol sounds authentic, as do the other weapons. The voice acting is great too. Iím not sure if the developers used Russians speaking English or English speaking with a Russian accent. I particularly liked the fact that if you walked away from a conversation, despite the textual version being displayed, you couldnít hear the speakers. In a way, the game requires you to sit and listen to the (sometimes inane) chatter. You can learn small titbits about the story and location by listening to what people have to say.
The dark, eerie nature of the background music is enhanced by the visuals. Although not quite up to the visual standard of other recent shooters such as Tomb Raider, the graphics are more than adequate given the bleak nature of the setting. For the most part, the game is set in tunnels underneath the city. Dank, dark tunnels, with little light or colour apart from the occasional splatter of blood or the eerie orange glow of a lamp. Even when Artyom heads topside, the sentiment continues to be drab, as if there is little hope for humanity in the grey colourless environment.
Compelling story and great audio set a wonderful atmosphere
Some of the cut-scenes are overly lengthy