What is Metro: Last Light? Is it an FPS? Survival Horror? Post Apocalyptic Originality-A-Thon? Well, it tries to be all three, and then some. But does it do any of them well, or does it fail at all three? While Metro does a lot of good, it never really masters anything. It feels like a jack of all trades, master of none.
Before you hop on any kind of bandwagon, I liked Metro: Last Light, hell it even did some things right! The best aspect of Metro is the post apocalyptic setting. Stuck underground in a Russian metro, you get an amazing sense of the world has gone to hell and its a huge struggle just to stay alive. The metro is dark, dirty and filled with vile creatures and characters. Just walking around random characters and listening to their stories is scarily almost worth the price of admission. Seriously, in what other game can you sit through a five minute post apocalyptic Russian metro talent show?
The story and setting are Metro: Last Light’s strong points. Even the Russian metros aren’t safe from that strange human need to control everyone and everything, so you find yourself embroiled in a war between different controlling factions in the metro. This part of the story is good and well fleshed out, the second part however falls flat and feels confusing and weird towards the end. At the end of Metro 2033, you send a big missile to murder all these pesky alien things. Turns out in Metro: Last Light one of these aliens is alive and you have to go and find it so you can say sorry. No joke, that’s the plot… I think. The entire alien concept is confusing and gets even worse when you find it wearing children’s clothing. The faction storyline is the better of the two as you know who you’re fighting and why, the alien story feels strange and as if the developer didn’t have enough time to fully realise what they wanted to do. In short, alien story bad, metro diplomacy story good.
The gameplay in Metro: Last Light is pretty much identical to that of Metro 2033 which is more bad than good. During your travels in the underground and aboveground, you’ll fight humans and radioactive monsters. Fighting humans is fun as you can use a stealth approach and as the AI is as useless as anything, you’ll happily sneak around slitting throats or knocking dudes out, whatever your fancy is. However, you can Rambo it and mow down anyone in your way. That method is not advised as ammo and guns are supposed to be quite rare in the metro and aboveground, but you can loot bodies and there are ammo stashes everywhere, so don’t let the game’s actual description of combat deter you from unloading into fools. Fighting the monsters gets really annoying really quick. These mutated bad boys take so much damage and the combat just feels monotonous. For instance, you can have this fully sick combat shotgun, sounds good huh? But the damned mutated animals can take up to five hits to die. While it gives you the feeling that these mutants are strong and powerful, it just becomes really annoying later in the game, when most of the combat takes place above ground.
Metro: Last Light is a linear first-person shooter and I wish the developers could accept that. One of my biggest complaints is that for a game with closed off levels and mechanics that kind of make you rush from point A to point B, Metro kinda wants you to explore the world. Don’t get me wrong, the world they’ve created is amazing and immersive, but it’s almost impossible to get off the beaten track. When you’re travelling through a settlement, there is only one path. Any other possible path is blocked by characters or locked doors, but the game sets that particular moment up with exploration in mind. Sure, I can buy guns and ammo, but I can’t really see anything the game doesn’t automatically shove into my face. It’s a strange complaint, but when you’re up on the surface it becomes more apparent. There is this vast wasteland to explore, but why? I have a gasmask that I have to change the filter on every now and then so I don’t die. When I actually went exploring all I found was invisible walls and more gas mask filters. Last Light also does a terrible job of telling me what to do. Do I shoot these enemies flying around? How do I eliminate this tank? The tank scene towards the end is a horrible miscommunication. “Shoot the gunner!” they say, but you have to shoot the wheels off the tank first… Yes, the wheels… Off a tank. Just tell me what to do Metro! And accept that you’re a linear FPS as well.
Metro: Last Light is an amazingly immersive experience. The world feels so alive, even though it feels a little forced, and is brought to life with great voice acting and awesome looking graphics with that nice post apocalyptic brown pallet. For all the bad Metro does, it still cannot be denied that this one of the most immersive games in a while. But, (you knew that was coming didn’t you?) Last Light is full of bugs and glitches, both graphical and gameplay wise. The game freezes for a few seconds every now and then and it can really destroy the immersive feel. Textures can take a while to load and sometimes enemies just stand still and won’t move. I even had a moment where I was stuck and couldn’t open the sewer grate I was instructed to do. I had to completely restart the chapter, which wasn’t that long but makes you wonder where else can Metro: Last Light stutter?
Overall, Metro: Last Light is fun to play. It balances the gameplay up enough that it doesn’t get tiring enough to stop playing, but I think most players of this game will actually like the monotonous mutant combat. The story is alright with half being good and half being bad that builds to quite a decent ending. It’s just a shame that this amazing world wasn’t developed to be as open as perhaps the developer wanted. Metro: Last Light is a good game, it just feels like an awesome world to play in, but with mediocre gameplay.