New(ish) Growth – Metro: Last Light

Metro: 2033 came out in 2010 and quickly impressed critics and gamers alike with its many graphics and less-linear campaign. The sequel – Metro: Last Light – was nearly lost in the Zone thanks to THQ’s financial troubles, but was rescued by the uber-feminists at Deep Silver. But should they have bothered, or should Last Light have been left to perish from radiation poisoning?

Narratively, Metro: Last Light takes place about a year after the end of Metro: 2033. Based on the Metro novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Last Light uses the canonical ending of 2033 as a starting point – which some might consider being the “evil” ending. Whether you chose this ending or not during your own playthrough of 2033, Last Light offers another thoroughly enjoyable ride through the post-apocalyptic Moscow underground.

Once again you find yourself in a world that’s pretty damn serious and more than a little dire; Canis Canem Edit is the way of things in the Metro and we’re not even talking about the wildlife. Bandits, Slavers, Communists and even Nazis are to be found among the many people you’ll happen upon along the rails, and compared to what roams above ground these people are almost a delight to be around.

It must be said before I go on that this game is HUGE. The campaign of your average Call of Duty, Battlefield or other wannabe weighs in at around five hours, because – let’s face it – nobody gives a shit about the single-player component. It’s nice every once and a while to boot up a first-person shooter with an actual campaign, not just an extended, interactive cutscene.
4A Games did a great job at keeping the areas different, or when that couldn’t be avoided, interesting. I found the game kept giving me things to focus on, with little time to get bored across its 15-or-so hours.

The outdoor areas are fully realised, and not just cleverly-disguised corridors. The weather and time of day change, storms come and go and sounds of (probably mutant) animals can be heard in all directions, giving these areas an almost S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-like quality. The exploration serves to provide some relief from the claustrophobic tunnel system, though the constant need for a gasmask whilst outside ensures you can never relax too much or breathe too easily.

The above-ground areas make for some of the more unique and visually-impressive portions of the game, and indeed Last Light is a strikingly beautiful game. Even in the darkest and dankest of the game’s locales, you can’t help but notice just how good this game looks.

To make things more interesting, the human opponents you’re used to fighting in the tunnels are replaced above-ground with mutant abominations, many of which can be vicious and genuinely hard to kill. For the most part of the game I found myself avoiding shotguns, because of their limited range, but once I saw how easily these put mutants down, I accepted having one on my person at all times.

Unfortunately the audio in Last Light is a mixed bag. At times the voice-acting was superb and at other times it seemed like the actors were able to maintain their Russian accent or their enthusiasm for the script, but not both. In a few cases it seemed like the actors were straight-up reading aloud and ended up sounding like robots with Russian accents – but not in a cool 80s sci-fi kind of way.

There are technical issues too – even now after the game has been out for two months – such as audio lagging behind the action, random crashes to desktop, and the player getting irretrievably trapped in the level’s geometry. Anything less than a perfectly-designed boss battle is a recipe for frustration, so the last thing you need is for the bosses to then break the game by ramming you through a wall or disappearing completely.

There might be technical issues, some poor voice acting and immersion-breaking boss battles, but all-in-all, Metro: Last Light offers up a journey that is worthy of your time. It won’t leave you all warm and fuzzy at the end, but whilst you’re getting there it will give you a fair amount of freedom between stealth and action, depending on your persuasion. If you’re looking for a first-person shooter with a campaign that’s full of flavour and not just filler for another multiplayer-focused game, Metro: Last Light is worth the look.


  • Play Metro: 2033 first – Not a strict requirement, but you might get more out of Last Light if you’ve already played 2033. A lot of your motivations and the stories you hear as you’re passing through the Metro directly relate to the events of the first game.

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