Deep Silver

Metro: Last Light is dark, adult, and confident in its goals (Plus: the shooting doesn’t suck now!)

Metro: Last Light is dark, adult, and confident in its goals (Plus: the shooting doesn’t suck now!)

Metro: Last Light

  • 360
  • PC
  • PS3

$49.99 MSRP

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We don’t really know what it’s going to be like when, or if, an alien intelligence tries to communicate with us. Maybe they speak through scents, and we don’t have fine enough sense organs to understand. Maybe they speak by exhaling microbes that attack our bodies, and what they see as singing a song, we perceive as a biological attack. We may have a violent reaction to a civilization that is merely trying to ask how we’re doing.

Metro: Last Light begins by putting you behind the eyes of a man who may have made the wrong decision in this area.

And now he has the chance to, in some small way, make it right.

Fight the future

Metro 2033 was an amazingly atmospheric game marred by terrible shooting, and the sequel has fixed most of those problems. Guns now actually feel like guns, while they maintained the hacked together appearance that makes sense for this world. You can shoot someone in the head and they go down. You have a watch that tells you whether you’re in the cover of darkness or visible to others. The game feels tight and complete in a way the prequel didn’t, and I found myself having fun sneaking around the shadows, turning off the lights, and then knifing the bad guys one by one.

This is life after a nuclear holocaust, where men, women, and children struggle to survive in the underground Metro systems in Moscow. This isn’t Tomb Raider, where you wonder how you can kill dozens of people without blinking. Artyom, the game’s protagonist, has spent years fighting for survival and is well trained to take care of himself. Violence comes with ease in this world, and you’ll often explore dark places filled with those who didn’t make it.

No matter what your fear, Last Light will find a way to disturb you. The sense of menace is oppressive, and you’ll often fight from behind a gas mask; there is a key to wipe away the mud and grit that blocks your view. Your watch counts down the usable time on each filter, and the glass can break, leaving you gasping for air. Metro: 2033 was already an uncomfortable game, but matched with the improved fighting and all-new engine, everything is even harder to take.

 

Be advised, I’m running a pretty beastly machine and I had to scale down the resolution and the special effects to get a good framerate on the PC version, but the graphics were still way above average. If you’ve dumped a ton of money into your gaming rig, this is the game to see what it can do.

I’ve also heard from people who had performance issues with ATI cards, but I can’t confirm them directly. But sure to upgrade your drivers before you begin.

Hard choices

The desperation of the environment is almost it’s own character. During one scene you stop a rape, and the moment is treated without sentimentality. This is just something that happens when society has broken down, and in this case you can decide to spare some of your precious bullets to take care of it.

In another section I came across a fork in the path, and chose a way to go. I could hear the sounds of people begging for their lives, but by the time I made the decision to turn around I was caught in a fight against a pack of feral beasts. The game offers no quick-saves, only checkpoints, so I couldn’t reload my game to go back for them. It felt terrible.

I have yet to finish the game, I had to take a trip to see some super-secret things, but the five or so hours I played exceeded my expectations, and I’m counting down the minutes until I can go back and finish the story.

There are hints of what’s coming, however: Forces are gathering, and none of them have your best interests in mind. While Metro: 2033 often put you in personal danger, the stakes seem much higher this time around, and the story moves at a good clip, throwing you from bad situation to bad situation.

There is an economy based around military-grade bullets, something worth much more in this world than money, but so far I’ve been able to avoid it and just pick up weapons from the soldiers I kill.

There are a limited number of basic weapons, your shotguns, pistols, machine guns, all given the homemade makeover you expect from a Metro game, but you can find variants with different scopes, silencers, laser sights, etc. Finding a weapon you love and sticking with it is part of the fun, and you can hold three at once. If you want, you can spend money and customize your favorite weapon. My personal weapon of choice? The quad-barreled shotgun.

Also, you can change the spoken language to Russian, and the subtitles to English, but the review guide says to avoid this; you’ll miss some background information and ambient narrative. On the other hand, fuck review guides. Hearing people speak and whisper around you in a language you don’t understand, combined with the already frightening feel of the game makes you feel like you’re in an alien place, far from home.

I don’t need to know that the woman is comforting a child who lost his teddy bear, as my mind comes up with much more interesting scenarios for what they’re talking about as she comforts the crying child. Metro: Last Light takes place in a time and place where it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s a nightmare, and the rules you’re used to living by no longer apply. Not understanding some of that world makes it better, not worse.

I'll write up a more complete look at the game once I've finished the story, but I'm very happy with what I've played so far. The game tickles the same parts of your brain that responded to the Walking Dead adventure game; things can be so dark you'll wonder if you're having fun, or just putting yourself through psychic pain just for the fun of it. I enjoyed reading The Road, but it's not exactly a story I want to role-play, if you catch my drift. At least now you can take up arms against the darkness, and if you put your cross hairs in the right place you can be sure the bullet will go where it needs to.