4A Games

For the past few years I’ve been meaning to finish 2010′s Metro 2033. I was instantly drawn to the post apocalyptic story driven shooter but have always found the clunkiness of its controls a major deterrent. As Metro 2033 found itself further back in my ever growing backlog of games, the future of its sequel looked as bleak as the post apocalyptic Russian setting that is Metro.

In 2012 it was no secret that THQ, Publisher of the Metro series was in financial trouble. Several games on THQ’s roster faced delays while the iconic publisher of video games tried to come up with a solution to their financial woes while still maintaining a level of commitment to the hard work developers like 4A invested into their games. In the end THQ filed for bankruptcy and their games were auctioned off to the highest bidders. Eventually Metro Last Light ended up at Deep Silver and now is available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Metro Last Light picks up where Metro 2033 left off, if you are new to the series be sure to watch the beginning cutscenes that will fill you in on the story thus far. The Metro universe is inspired by the books of Dmitry Glukhovsky and follows our hero Artyom through the devastation and consequences of a nuclear holocaust in his once beautiful Russia. Artyom is a Ranger and is sent to find the last known remaining “Dark One“. The Dark Ones were the species Artyom chose to call in a missile strike on in Metro 2033 and is therefore responsible for their extinction.

There is dissent amongst Artyom’s fellow survivors as to what is to be done with the last remaining Dark One, who is just a child. Of course, once Artyom finds the lone Dark One, we soon learn that a few other political factions are also on the hunt for the Dark One and have their own agendas as to why. Our hero Artyom has one distinct advantage, he can communicate with the dying race. In doing so Artyom starts to doubt his decision of helping commit genocide against the misunderstood Dark Ones.

Metro Last Light is best described as a shooter / horror-survival hybrid. The nicely paced campaign unfolds with both political upheaval and scary mutants all struggling to control the Metro. The story is very intriguing and well written despite a few weak spots in the plot. It has inspired me to dust off my copy of Metro 2033 and place it at the beginning of my backlog. The Metro world is one I can’t wait to revisit.

The setting of post apocalyptic Russia is one of great tragic beauty. 4A’s eye for detail and use of light and darkness gives the feel that the most important character of the game is the Metro itself. I found myself adjusting my eyes to adapt to the dark of the underground tunnels and cringing while wiping the imaginary cobwebs away as if my video game surroundings were my reality. Turning off a light will help you hide from human A.I. but will impede your ability to navigate around the Metro and might also catch you off guard from creatures of the dark.

Gameplay was incredibly smooth and much improved from the first Metro. Controls felt natural and were easy to learn, my biggest complaint would have to be the A.I.. Often I could sneak up on a group of 2 or 3 video game enemies and stab all of them in a very un-stealthy fashion without being detected. Non human or mutant enemies were a different story and were much more relentless in their pursuit of Artyom.

Weapons and ammo are plentiful in Metro Last Light as not only were they lying all around, human A.I. almost always had some on them that you could scavenge from their dead corpses. Above ground movement requires the use of a gas mask for survival but once again filters to extend your clean breathing were fairly abundant.

Metro Last Light’s gameplay while still challenging at times is easier than I remember its predecessor to be. Most of my in-game deaths resulted from my own stupidity or lack of paying attention. One other issue I had with the game was a few of the automatic checkpoints were inconveniently located, like the time I kept respawning with very little air left on my filter, no replacements in sight, and a great deal of travel left to get to my destination. However, on the subject of checkpoints, kudos for them being frequent especially in long battles or boss fights, unlike some current games I know. That’s right, God Of War Ascension and Crysis 3 I’m talking about you!

I played the game on a PC running it at the ultimate settings and if you have a powerful gaming rig, I recommend doing the same. The graphics of Metro Last Light are stunning and despite its devastated Russian setting, it’s quite beautiful. If you are playing it on a PC with an AMD video card, be sure to turn PHYSX off in the settings. I played a few hours without incident before I experienced any problems with the graphics. I didn’t notice any more issues after turning PHYSX off and the game looked just as amazing with it off as it did on. Also, if you turn PHYSX off mid gameplay you will have to quit to your desktop and restart the game before the setting will change.

I experienced a few minor glitches with the A.I. and for whatever reason during the last battle my weapons would not fire at times, despite having a full magazine. I also had issues with the night vision goggles and never once got them to work. Overall though, my experience with Metro Last Light was very enjoyable. I’d give it an 8 out of 10. In a year where Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite have raised the bar on video games, I’d say that is quite impressive.

A very special thank you goes out to the amazing PR department at Deep Silver for supplying me with a review copy of Metro Last Light as well as advice on optimal settings for my PC.

Metro Last Light was developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is now available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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