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Review

Metro: Last Light Review

  • Game release: May 13, 2013
  • Reviewed: May 15, 2013
  • X360

Metro: Last Light is an astonishing and moving postapocalyptic journey.

The shadows of the past linger. They appear as silhouettes on crumbling walls each time lightning bolts slash across the sky. They haunt you as you journey across annihilated cityscapes once teeming with life and love. Metro: Last Light is an exceptionally well-crafted first-person adventure that fills your mind with the regrets of time gone by, and understands the fear and uncertainty that arise from silence and stillness. The game's predecessor, Metro 2033, established this series' penchant for mystery and supernatural drama, but Last Light is in a class all its own. It's not just another frightening trek through the dark corridors of the metro, but a rhythmic symphony of surging dread and emerging hope.

Last Light returns you to a Moscow devastated by nuclear war. Humanity, hoping to avoid the dangerous radiation and hideous mutants plaguing the surface, has banded together in the underground metro system. Depending on how you played, Metro 2033 might have allowed you to make an important choice at the game's conclusion.Last Light assumes you chose to destroy the creatures known as The Dark Ones, scorching their home with missiles and scouring them from the face of the Earth. But a creature remains, and as returning protagonist Artyom, you must find this remnant of a race thought extinct, this remnant of a decimated species, though it's unclear whether the right decision is to destroy it or to try to communicate with it. Your Ranger allies certainly desire its annihilation, but Artyom's unique connection to the Dark Ones gives him pause and he is nagged by guilt about the devastation he has wrought.

Artyom's dilemma brings a sense of personal struggle to a game fraught with brooding emotion. Metro: Last Light punctuates your adventure with moments of dread and shock, as well as with occult visions that make the past come alive before your very eyes. Supernatural themes intertwine with conflicts between underground factions, the horrors of each element providing two equally macabre sides to a single coin. In the confines of the metro, betrayal is common and trust is a commodity. Here, your greatest enemies are your fellow humans, who are unafraid to cheat and steal if it means gaining favor from the right people. On the brutal surface, the beasts are your primary concern; at any moment, a wailing winged demon might snatch you with its talons, soar into the air, and drop you into the murky water, far from where your horrific flight began.

Yet fear isn't the only emotion Last Light stirs. The final moving hours raise the emotional stakes and test your allegiances by forcing you to confront the consequences of your own choices. Story sequences are absorbing, and typically occur within the game engine and in first-person view, keeping you strongly connected to the events unfolding before you. The most enthralling scenes, however, are those that occur within the context of gameplay. Many interactive sequences--a hypnagogic walk down a blood-red hallway, a survey of an airplane's nightmarish wreckage--relate vital events without removing you from the moment, which makes them hellishly palpable.

Bullets aren't always the best solution, but when you've got a giant mutant after you, they're the most obvious.

There is mirth amid the madness, however. Characters react to each other in authentic ways, responding to one Ranger's pedantic soliloquies with jokes and insults, likely mirroring your own thoughts on the matter. The inhabitants of the underground are colorful and individual. They move about with purpose, speaking at length to each other about war and family, about love and lust. Men gone stir crazy seek the company of prostitutes, and so might you, should you desire a lengthy lap dance. Nudity occurs multiple times, and though it's certainly explicit, it doesn't seem superfluous or exploitative. Rather, Last Light's erotic themes emerge naturally from the despair, and sex in the underground has an air of desperation and urgency. If you prefer tamer pleasures, you may take in a lengthy and detailed variety show, where can-can dancers and an accordion act bring some joy to the melancholy populace. This is life in the metro. And it's an amazing display of narrative craftsmanship.

Exquisite craftsmanship is also on display as you seek the remaining known Dark One on the irradiated surface, and as you avoid the wandering eye of your enemies in the depths beneath. Last Light is not a power shooter. You are not out to murder hundreds of nameless grunts without breaking a sweat, and in fact, the early hours are remarkably light on action. Instead, tension is carefully built in the conversations you have with your comrades, and in the cautious steps you take into the irradiated ruins above the tunnels. You feel the danger. Gnarled trees are twisted into vaguely humanoid shapes, and when you seek refuge from the rain, you hear the drops hammering on the flimsy tin roof above, mimicking the sounds of mutants' skittering claws. Your calling brings you here, but you know it's not a place anyone should be.

A number of creatures menace your journey across the surface. Amphibious freaks move from water to land, threatening you two or three at a time. As you manuever away from their clammy assaults, you must be ever mindful of the squalid pools that surround you, lest you fall in and get dragged to your death by a mutant lurking beneath. Fierce predators pounce towards you, keeping you on the move while you avoid the harsh siren calls of the creatures that cling to nearby walls. You use a number of weapons to fend them off, all of which look and sound appropriately powerful, but none of which turn your adventure into a cakewalk.

Let us feast.

Of these great firearms, it's easiest to become enamored with the shotgun. It fires with a loud report and allows you to discharge multiple shells at once, making it a great standby if you're willing to get close to these beasts. But the long reload time can be a killer if you miss a shot, given how creatures can descend upon you and take multiple swipes in a row. Ammo isn't plentiful in the wastes, though you can get your fill from vendors in the metro's safe havens. Yet the military-grade ammo used as currency is scarce, and you're often faced with a choice to grab more ammo, purchase more grenades, or upgrade that meaty revolver you favor. It's best to scavenge for supplies and ammo in every nook and cranny. Otherwise, you can't take for granted that you'll have everything you need to thrive, particularly on the harder difficulty levels, which are satisfyingly harsh.

Even a single breath is a valuable commodity outside of the metro. You must don a gas mask to stay alive, but masks require filters, which have limited life spans. You discover more filters by exploring your environs--but exploration takes time, which means watching your available supply of healthy air slowly diminish. If you don't value each minute, the pace of your mission could suddenly change from slowly methodical to terrifyingly urgent, as you sprint towards your destination, gasping with increased desperation and hoping against hope that you might cling to life. Unfortunately, you could encounter one of Last Light's uncommon but annoying invisible walls during such a circumstance, thinking that you might be able to leap over a small obstacle or follow a narrow path, only to discover how wrong you were.

When the alarms go off, fight back!

The air is healthier in the metro, but the dangers are no less real. You still confront misshapen mutants in the tunnels, but the darkness plays an important role. One type of creature recoils from the beam of your flashlight, eventually flipping onto its back and making itself vulnerable to your bullets. Battling several at once results in a rhythmic dance as you use your flashlight to keep your distance between you and the mutants' pincers, firing only when you do the most damage. You often find such critters in the blackest of passages--passages you aren't forced to investigate. Yet the lure of such places can be irresistible. The glow of mushrooms and the possibility of valuable ammo beckon you inwards, as does the chance of rescuing an innocent captive held hostage by the enemy factions that also lurk in the tunnels.

You aren't required to go toe to toe with human opposition. You can use darkness to your advantage, twisting light bulbs and flipping circuit breakers to keep yourself hidden, and then sneaking through bases to avoid combat altogether. You can be silently murderous, sidling up behind a guard and slicing his throat, and then quietly flinging a knife into another's back. Human enemies go about their actions in realistic ways; they follow patterns, of course, but they aren't always so regimented as to seem unnatural. As a result, the stealth is fun and tense, though you can always shoot your way out of a bind if you need to.

Arachnophobes best brace themselves: Metro: Last Light is full of creepy-crawlies.

Firefights can be tough, depending on where and how you're caught sneaking around. You could find yourself cornered, wishing you had put a silencer on that sniper rifle rather than drawing everyone's attention with a single shot. Your enemies are uniformly aggressive when alerted, though hardly the sharpest tacks in the box. Several might get stuck in place, their weapons' barrels clipping through each other and the wall as they twirl about. Others might run about in nonsensical ways or fail to notice your presence as quickly as you'd expect. Yet given the close confines in which you normally face these soldiers, AI issues aren't great distractions, as you'll often be too busy staying alive to notice the oddities. It's when you get stealthy again that the discrepancies become most obvious.

Metro: Last Light's battles and sneaky sequences are tense delights, but what makes the adventure truly sing are how such scenes flow from one to the next--and how the detours between them make battles more impactful. Last Light frequently disrupts its own pace, going from terror to relief in a heartbeat, and putting you in one atmospheric location after another. At one point, you get a short look into a room before you drop into it from the vent above. The room is full of corpses, but it's the sight of one corpse in particular that fills you with unease: that of a little boy. Last Light doesn't linger here; there is no internal dialogue that tells you that Artyom is driven to anger in that moment. But the visual enrages you nonetheless, making the upcoming action and plot points more than just about warring men, but about the consequences that conflict has on the future of the metro.

Monsters got you down? Then take a breather and enjoy the show.

The surface brings a tenuous visual warmth, even though though the sunlight is diffused through dreary gray clouds. Out here, one companion in particular brings the harsh exterior an unexpected humanity, while diverse sequences, like one that has you escaping the brash onslaught of the wind, keep the pace from ever becoming too predictable. And even in this wasteland, there's visual variety that keeps Last Light from becoming too overbearing. There's beauty in its indigo skies and battered cityscapes, and even in the sunken, asymmetrical angles of a watcher's face. The console versions of the game look somewhat drab in the darkest of regions, the glimmers of light not quite piercing the blackness enough to make environments come alive. Additionally, the PlayStation 3 version doesn't always maintain a slick frame rate, though this version is still excellent, regardless.

Metro: Last Light is not an endless barrage of bullets and beasts. It takes the time to let you breathe in the choking atmosphere and allow the chilling fog to seep into your bones. And when it finally comes time to aim your shotgun at mutated fiends, the payoff is grander for the eerie silence that came before. Last Light is notably superior to its predecessor, merging storytelling, shooting, and sneaking into a remarkable and cohesive whole. And through this harmony of game design comes the caustic dissonance of a world so torn asunder that a single possibility can bring with it endless hope.

The Good
Astounding atmosphere fills you with dread
A great, surprisingly touching story about loss and hope
Fantastic pacing allows tension to build before the action heats up
Exploring the surface is frightening and exciting
Great array of weapons make you feel powerful, but not overpowered
The Bad
Unimpressive AI
Occasionally drab visuals
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Metro: Last Light

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Discussion

111 comments
Sardinar
Sardinar

Any Russian player would enjoy this game immensely. Easily one of the best FPS franchises ever. 


If you're not Russian, then you would have to keep an open mind. Pretty much why Metro has 8.4 user average instead of like 9.5.

fourclawrider
fourclawrider

Bought it, played it, got annoyed halfway through and have yet to finish it.


reasons:


- Constant first-person ingame "cutscenes", QTE and other forms of scripted/restrictive gameplay that takes away control from the player.

- Linear and repetitive. Long parts where you follow someone around and he basically dictates everything you do so in essence your not exploring/discovering/playing the game yourself, you just follow orders. 


- Some very bad and frustrating level design e.g. the level with the railcar, what was the point of it? you actually sprinted faster and it was (literally) on-rails gameplay. the many parts spent scrambling for filters, especially on the surface (there was absolutely nothing fun about having to, at the same time: 1. constantly wipe my mask clean just so I can see where to shoot and walk 2. fight hordes of groundbased enemies while 3. airborn enemies swoop in to harass you 4. trying so conserve ammo while 5. all the while you have to hurry because your airsupply is running out and 6. leave parts of a level unexplored 'cause there's just not enough time. Even on normal difficulty you can get stuck on a checkpoint near the end of the level with too few ammo or airsupply to finish the level. Only option is starting the level over entirely.

-Bad voice acting and eventually annoying slavic accents. 

-The stealth's not done right either. It's too simplistic. Enemies are hella stupid so the only way to make stealth challenging is by putting loads of enemies in one room.  But you can't hide bodies so while you're working your way through a large room full of enemies its only a matter of time before one stumbles on a corpse and all hell breaks loose.


In general this game is basically a slightly longer COD campaign with a better story, a creative setting and a tagged on layer of stealth and conservation gameplay.


6/10

pidow
pidow

I will get this one for pc.

NTM23
NTM23

Well, I just bought the game on 360. I hope I enjoy it. It kind of feels like an awkward purchase. I mean, I wanted it, but I didn't expect to buy a game today; I didn't play the first game; I didn't know about the novels; I was kind of expecting to play some other games from this year first, like Tomb Raider and Splinter Cell Blacklist, and honestly, I was a bit hesitant to go with it since it's on 360 and not PC, but I went for it and I hope I like it.

what_is_game
what_is_game

About 4-5 hours in, and I am in awe at how amazing it is. Truly immersive, a real masterpiece that has everything you should want in a game.

ObxChillin
ObxChillin

Just got this game from redbox yesterday its pretty good so far. im already half way done with only around 5-6hrs played (maybe a little less). definitely a rent tho, buying it would be a waste of money imo. its a great game but achievement hunting is how ur going to enjoy the game to its full potential.

Oh yeah and the boobs look mad real :D

Paragoob
Paragoob

Sounds like The Last of Us. Which is good news for me and other gamers.

apenlul
apenlul

second best game of the year!! for me..

jayjay444
jayjay444

One of if not the most immersive game iv'e ever had the pleasure of playing highly recommended. 

MlauTheDaft
MlauTheDaft

The Dark One at the end of the review is adorable!


santinegrete
santinegrete

This game will have discount on Steam for the rest of the weekend.

mastermetal777
mastermetal777

I played this game, and I thought it was absolutely mediocre.

thequickshooter
thequickshooter

i'm still waiting for the DLC 

this game doesn't got much replayability once you get the good ending on ranger mode hardcore

vcpinheiro14
vcpinheiro14

Well, sadly GameSpot's reviews are not trustworthy for me anymore. My primary source is IGN since last year, see User Score and Metacritic scores for this game and the Last of Us and notice that GameSpot's scores seems afar from the common sense. Of course a review is the opinion of a critic, but the scores are not coherent. We probably can't prove anything but I can imagine that publishers' money is the reason behind this.

angryape
angryape

Oh and I forgot to express how much I fucking hate Kevin VanOrd.

SO FUCKING MUCH.

angryape
angryape

Can somebody tell me if it is just me...

BUT there are far too many points in this game where you are calling for some lift or transport device of some sort, and while you wait you have to shoot those fucking dog-mole-rat things. It was tedious after the first round of this, but to have to do it again and again was so poor. It was unimaginative gameplay in my opinion. 

Scrum-McPummel
Scrum-McPummel

9.0 is a bit high IMHO but certainly a solid 8.  Why only the 8? - 3 main reasons:

1) WAAYYY Short.  Never played a game that was this short.  I'm a gaming enthusiast but with a couple of kids and mortgage I just don't have the time to game like I used to. I probably average 1 to 1-1/2  hours on average a day,  I finished this game in 10 days... Whoa.

2) Kinda glitchy...  Sometimes your save gets %$#& up and when you go to resume, the enemies just stand frozen.  The dialogue continues but these guys stand stock still in a state of suspended animation... You can even shoot their Gas Masks off but don't get too close because then you wind up just like them... It happened to me 3 times and presents a definite WTF moment.  You need to restart the entire "chapter" to get it to cut the crap.

3) The AI are as dumb as any I've encountered... you drop a grenade into a room from above to the screams and cries of the enemy, and in the very next room doOds are hanging around smoking and shooting the sh*t...

Don't let this deter you though... Knowing what I know now I might have waited for the used copy to come out but it really was a great game with stunning visuals and a dynamite story line.  

-S


Gamerhomer
Gamerhomer

HOW.DID.METRO.GET.A.9?... Game is good but nothing spectacular... a 7.5 from me.

Subaru1980
Subaru1980

Eastern Eurpean games start really to be good! Metro series, The Witcher series and even the reborn Call of Juarez franchise!

deetrupt10
deetrupt10

If you're into the post-apocalyptic, I recommend checking out Wastelander Panda! They just released their first episodes last week, very dark, very brutal and very moving... A little different to the Metro world though, more like Fallout... But more Pandas... I don't know how it works, but it does...

Check out wastelanderpanda.com

theprismhead
theprismhead

@fourclawrider You'd hate the new Tomb Raider then, it's far more linear and full of QTEs (btw there aren't many in M:LL and all are done with a single button).

jecomans
jecomans

@ObxChillin  Did you really say achievement hunting is how to enjoy a game too its full potential? Hmmm.

AzulSoul
AzulSoul

@Paragoob Well, imo it has a better atmosphere than the LTOU, really inmersive.

IceVagabond
IceVagabond

@vcpinheiro14 Deviating slightly from the norm on a couple of titles is hardly solid evidence of being paid off, and essentially saying that any reviewing company *MUST* give a game near the same exact score as the other reviewers is just goddamned stupid. I personally agree with this score and the one for The Last of Us.

That being said, I'm growing sick of some of GameSpot's editors forcing their political agenda (particularly feminism) down everyone's throats in some of their reviews (this isn't one of them, and their is TLOU's). I've been going to IGN more because of that.

angryape
angryape

@vcpinheiro14 I don't think even that excuse can be used at gamespot... I think it's just ineptitude. Would love to see VanOrd replaced, as well as some of the other members of the gamespot team who are frankly poor journalists. 

dillon-peters
dillon-peters

@angryape Kevin is by far my favorite reviewer! nothing against the others I just like how he puts things together and presents his points. this hate message is a little disturbing as well.

pinky08_09
pinky08_09

@angryape Very few times ive read reviews that felt as honest as Kevin VanOrd´s reviews are. You may disagree with the 9.0, but this isnt about points its about the whole review. Every line of this review is clearly written by someone who was touched by the game and had a great time in it. To me this review is the honest opinion of a gamer. Loved the review. I understand your boredom for the sequences described but they are so minor ocmpared to the resto of the game.

Dont know where all your hatred is coming from

jecomans
jecomans

@angryape  I just finished playing. I think I counted around about way too many tower-defence set pieces. The whole wait for the slow thing, shoot stuff, get on the slow thing, shoot stuff. Once in a game is enough, this had easily half a dozen or more.

fernandofan08
fernandofan08

@Scrum-McPummel so 10 hours to 15 hours then to complete the game is short? Majority of games are 4-5 hours long. You compare to Far Cry/Borderlands/Skyrim yet they are open world games, not a tight, narrative story experience. 


de-ci23
de-ci23

@Gamerhomer  

It got a 9 because it isn't a PS3 exclusive. Lol. I don't see how this game was given a better score than the Last of us though.

Nube36
Nube36

Yeah the whole qte thing is sometimes good for immersion, not sure why qte has been labeled as such a horrible thing. I've never had a problem with them. Avid gamer here. The atmosphere in this game is astounding it really immerses you, the ai, is a little dumb but not as bad as it's been reported.

fourclawrider
fourclawrider

@theprismhead@fourclawriderActually I had a blast with the new tomb raider. It had a good story, suspense and emotion, fluid fun gameplay, smart enemies and clever level design .


And I don't mind QTE and big scipted action sequences if they're done right. Which they were in TR. QTE and big scripted action sequences stand or fall with the perspective: 3rd person perspective -> great (see god of war, uncharted and many more), 1st person perspective -> just not done.


And how is TR more linear? Metro LL is the classic straightforward level-structured shooter. In TR you have to explore and you get to travel between locations to collect stuff, look for secrets and gather xp. I really dont see how Metro is less linear.


Anyway, I have since finished the game and the second half is even worse than the first. It's just cutscene after cutscene, even more linear gameplay and following the little dark one around was one of the most irritating thing in a game I have experienced in a long time.


But hey if you enjoyed it good for you.

Nube36
Nube36

Wtf are you talking about with tower defense sections? Name one?

jecomans
jecomans

@Blashbuck I don't think it was mediocre, it was okay/good.

Too much time on the surface is boring, makes the pacing drag. Incessant tower-defence moments. Balance between fighting monsters and humans is off, and the AI is poor. Most the game you are funneled down corridors, and often you are stuck behind a NPC for long periods. Some bits nail the exploration, but they are few and far between. They should have done more with the hubs, which looked very cool. Not particularly great boss fights, though that's more subjective.

The story was interesting, as was the world in the tunnels. The shooting mechanics and the guns felt very good. It looks great, has some very immersive touches. Best game lighter flame ever.

7.5/10 I think is pretty fair. 

Scrum-McPummel
Scrum-McPummel

@Collateral96 @Scrum-McPummel  Well, having recently come off of the likes of  FarCry 3, and still spending major parts of my gaming time on Skyrim and Borderlands 2 months after I've purchased them, the 8 or 9 hours I spent obsessively turning over every stone in Metro, seemed rather meager by comparison.  Again, loved the game, just wished I could have spent more time immersed in its awesome universe. 

jecomans
jecomans

@fourclawrider I don't agree with most your second paragraph of your first post. But I agree with most things you said. Sometimes overly linear, sometimes very obtuse; very few parts met nicely in the middle. I didn't mind the voice acting. It did constantly take control away from you, or make you walk behind someone down a hallway for long periods. Also, what's with the incessant tower-defence set-pieces? 

The story is cool though, even if it drops off too often for longer slightly boring surface missions, and the shooting mechanics feel very good. 

There were a whole bunch of times I wasn't sure I could be bothered finishing the game, but I'm glad I did. More of a, 'Yeah, that was pretty satisfying', response, than a, 'wow'; but whatever. 

Epicurus-Reborn
Epicurus-Reborn

@Scrum-McPummel @Collateral96 see quality of time spent is important to note too. Farcry is a much longer game, but the levels are very un-inspired. And the story is so bland i dont care to spend the time doing everything. but compared to skyrim? You are right. The amount of quality content doesnt come close. Ive spent some 200+ hours in that game and theres still a lot to do and find. 

Metro: Last Light

  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • Macintosh
  • Unix/Linux
Metro: Last Light is the direct first person shooter sequel to Metro 2033. It is set in the year 2034 where a nuclear war has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
ESRB
Mature
All Platforms
Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
Check out even more info at the Metro: Last Light Wiki on Giantbomb.com