Friday , February 23 2024
A better plot could have made Metro: Last Light a diamond in the rough. As it is, the technical difficulties weigh heavily on the fun there is to be had.

PlayStation 3 Review: Metro: Last Light

The debut of Metro: Last Light marks the first retail release of the properties auctioned off during Los Angeles based publisher, THQ’s bankruptcy proceeding.  Last Light is the sequel to 2010’s Metro 2033, based on the Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky’s book by the same name.  The Metro 2033 book was continued by the author with Metro 2034, but Last Light strikes out in a wholly different direction.  Gluskhovsky was apparently involved with Last Light which continues the story of Artyom, nearly a year after the events in Metro 2033.  If you were wondering, the plot of Last Light assumes the standard ending of the first game.

The team that brought us Metro 2033 and now Last Light have ties to the similarly themed PC classic S.T.A.L.K.E.R.  Both games are set in a post-apocalyptic Russia, though Metro is pretty much a straight up shooter.  In the Metro series, a nuclear war in 2013 forced what was left of Moscow’s surviving population into underground metro stations. It didn’t take long for these pockets of survivors to organize into city-states with vastly different ideologies and ambitions.  Where Metro 2033 mainly focused on the mysterious “dark ones,” a group of ghastly and powerful mutants, Last Light tackles the politics of the humans.

Metro: Last Light isn’t anywhere near as dark or eerie as its predecessor, though the post apocalyptic world is represented especially well in the above ground portions.  At its best, Last Light looks a lot like Crysis, but most often the graphics resemble Fallout 3. Though the game borrows plenty from survival horror, it’s never quite that scary.  Because the radiation and fallout remain a threat, whenever you are above ground you must wear a gas mask.  Unless you play on the easiest setting, the mask and required filters will dictate the pace you explore the outside world.  The filters only last for so long and as you take damage, the mask will deteriorate and eventually break.  Death follows quickly when there is no clean air.

Surviving in Metro: Last Light is made a little more difficult with the control scheme.  Though the main controls are typical for first person shooters, managing inventory and weapons can be a little difficult.  Playing through the campaign over a couple of days, it took until about the last third of the game for me to really feel comfortable working through the sub-menus.  Very similar to Mass Effect, pulling the left trigger brings up equipment options, which is where you will need to manage your flashlight, gas mask, and filters.  Instead of fully pausing the action, everything slows down a bit while you’re switching equipment.  You can also switch weapons, though the triangle button will cycle them for you.  The d-pad allows you to access regular items like health packs and your cigarette lighter.

Firstly, Metro: Last Light is a demanding game, but there is a good amount of enjoyment to be found in the eight to 12 hours it offers.  It is not quite Splinter Cell, but there is a fair amount of stealth required.  One of the features of Artyom’s watch indicates whether or not he is visible and there are also plenty of customizable and stealthy weapons to use.  Turning off lights and using silent takedowns, lethal or otherwise, are a staple when facing human foes.  It is also worth noting that there is a morality scale in the game.  Killing everyone in your path and exacting revenge on key enemies will eliminate the possibility of achieving the “good” ending.

There are a number of odd design choices in Metro: Last Light considering all of the technical issues.  If everything worked right, the game would be a solid effort despite an uneven narrative.  The overall presentation is pretty good, from the variety in environments to the gas mask effects and sound design.  The problem is that a lot of it falls apart regularly, characters will clip on screen as they walk through you, the screen tears and frame rate drops are evident throughout, and except for a handful of characters, everyone looks exactly the same.  On the other hand, using your lighter to burn spider webs works really well, though it almost seems gratuitous.

Overall, Metro: Last Light is a good game.  As a single player experience, it’s a fun ride that’s worth its price.  For me, the technical issues didn’t reach deal breaker status, though there were some system freezes and I did get stuck in a spot that required me to reload the last checkpoint.  There was an opportunity in Last Light for a more profound story to be told, but for the most part the narrative teeters between juvenile and derivative.  A better plot could have made Last Light a diamond in the rough, but as it is, the sum of its parts add up to a good game that could have been much better.
Metro: Last Light is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol. This game can also be found on: PC, and Xbox 360.

About Lance Roth

Lance Roth has over 10 years experience in the video game industry. He has worked in a number of capacities within the industry and currently provides development and strategy consulting. He participated in all of the major console launches since the Dreamcast. This videogame resume goes all of the way back to when they were written in DOS. You can contact Lance at or [email protected].

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