Three years after the release of Metro 2033 Ukrainian developers 4A Games are back with sequel Metro: Last Light. After the original publisher THQ sadly closed at the start of 2013 there were concerns about what would happen to the game. Fortunately it was picked up by Deep Silver and after some extra delays it’s finally here. We’ve been spending some time with the Xbox 360 version.
The game is inspired by Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro universe and although set a year after the events of the first game it doesn’t follow his book Metro 2034. Metro: Last Light begins by following the bad ending of Metro 2033. It follows the path where the player chose to destroy the strange creatures known as the Dark Ones.
Players once again take the role of protagonist Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Russia. Humans are still surviving underground in the metro system due to the radiation and mutants above ground. Stations act as small cities and the survivors are a mix of different factions including the Soviets and Nazi Reich. All-out war between the different factions is brewing and reports come in of a surviving Dark One. Artyom is set to the surface to try and track it down with conflicting opinions on if he should communicate with it or kill it.
Right from the beginning the presentation is excellent and the atmosphere is incredible making the whole world feel alive and very dangerous. It’s clear that a great deal of work has gone into the story of the game. As you set about your quest you’ll meet many brilliant characters but to really get the most from the experience you need to also listen to what others are saying too.
Every character you come across in Last Light seems to have something to say. You can ignore most of these conversations but it is well worth sticking around and listening in to get the full impact of the story. The world is incredibly detailed with superb art direction. It looks fantastic on console and even better on PC. The characters are some of the best we’ve seen with excellent modelling, texture work, animation and voice acting too.
Your path through the game is sadly a very linear one but the gameplay does allow you to approach situations however you like. Primarily Last Light is a first-person shooter but there is also plenty of opportunity for stealth on offer too. In fact if you go for the higher difficulties then it really helps to take your time and favour a stealthy approach.
A large part of the stealth requires you to stick to the shadows and you can help yourself by taking the time to blow out lamps and unscrew light bulbs. While you can rush a room full of enemies with your guns blazing you can give yourself an easier time by letting them finish conversations and go about their business. Creeping in the shadows can allow you to bypass enemies altogether as well as stealthily knockout or kill them.
The gunplay is pretty solid and there are a variety of makeshift weapons on offer. These include the usual suspects such as pistols, shotguns, and assault or sniper rifles. There are also a variety of attachments you can add to help them perform better at different ranges. In addition to your main weapon you also get secondary items that you can throw such as knives and grenades.
Artyom also carries a variety of other equipment such as a wristwatch, lighter, torch, gas mask and compass. In order to power your torch you need to occasionally switch to a handheld generator that you need to pump to keep the power up. This is essential in order to see in some locations and certain monsters are affected by light. Gas masks are needed on the surface to breath and you need to replace the filters frequently. When wearing a mask you must also occasionally wipe it or your vision can become hindered. Your lighter is most useful for burning away the many spiderwebs you come across. Finally your wristwatch features a handy indicator to let you know if you can be seen or not.
Players who like to collect things will enjoy hunting down the many musical instruments and notes throughout the game. The notes make interesting reading and help flesh out the story some more. These collectibles coupled with the tougher difficulties will bring you back to the game after your first playthrough. There’s also more content on the way via DLC and a season pass is available to save some money. The first content pack is currently due for release in July.
Metro: Last Light features an excellent mix of stealth and combat with a gripping story that keeps you entertained throughout its 15 hours. It’s a fantastic achievement by 4A Games and a sequel that manages to better the original in almost every way. It’s a highly recommended purchase for FPS and stealth fans.