Metro: Last Light was one of those games that I was entirely unfamiliar with and up until a few days before release, both skeptical and unexcited about. Something about another apocalyptic set game, another primarily linear shooter, and almost every character in the game possessing horrible Russian accents just didn't appeal to me. With doubt in the back of my mind, I still, however, preordered Metro just a few days before release. When the game finally released, and after I had taken off the wrapping and savored the sweet new game aroma, I popped the disc into my 360 tray and discovered that my previous assumptions were true. It was another nuclear apocalypse (although a bit unique due to it being from a Russian viewpoint), another linear shooter, and horrible Russian accents abounded. However, much to my confusion and delight, I loved it. 


Forgot my boots........

Metro: Last Light's environment isn't really a new concept, but it is an intriguing one nevertheless and is invaluably important to Metro: Last light's experience. Those who had survived the nuclear strike had taken safe haven in the Russian metro system. The metro system is a peculiar place to say the least. Some parts have been populated into city type zones, while other parts have completely rotted out and are populated by grotesque mutants. Both human and mutant occupied zones effectively convey one simple message; the age of man is over.

As one travels through human occupied zones, it is clear how much the quality of life has decayed for humans. Everywhere one looks, there is a soldier holding some type of weapon, always ready for some catastrophe to occur. Normal civilians all live drearily. Some people walk around aimlessly, just living for the sake of living; others drown their sorrows in booze and indulge in prostitution amongst other indecencies, while still others run petty little shops selling homemade ammo and other crude supplies. Everything simply seems to be in a state of decay for people. One thing is made clear by all of this, man is no longer thriving, it is scrounging to hold onto its very existence. 

The mutant occupied zones, on the other hand, are a completely different tale. In this new apocalyptic world, mutants of all sizes are thriving, even in the last human populated area, the metro. Some areas of the metro are teeming with mutant life. Human ventures into those areas usually don't end well for a reason after all. For instance, early on in the game one is forced through a giant spider infested area. The area is unnervingly dark, saturated with spider webbing, and festering with infuriated spiders. You are in their territory, and they are not happy about it. The sounds of the spiders crawling all around me through holes and crevices, and my inability to see them sent shivers up mind spine. Frightening atmospheres like this are always prevalent because of the excellent environment that Metro: Last Light has to offer.

Pavel: This is exactly what it looks like

What I find to be so special about this environment as opposed to other apocalyptic safe haven environments is that the supposed "safe havens" literally are next door to these hostile, mutant occupied zones, yet those human zones are still considered to be the "safe" zones. This gives the sense of just how fragile and always nearing death life is in the metro. If at any point, the integrity of a safe zone were to weaken, it could immediately be overrun by mutants. The metro is no longer just for humans, it is uneasily shared with all surrounding species. That in of itself gives players an uneasy feeling as they travel through any part of the metro. 

The metro is only half of the environment that Metro: Last Light has to offer; the other is the equally dangerous, and even less hospitable, world that was taken from humans when the missiles fell. The surface is littered with structural and engineering ghosts, and not to mention actual corpses, of the past. Bridges, cars, and buildings among other feats of human achievement stand rotting while nature slowly consumes what is left. Erratic weather patterns and air unfit to breath constantly remind the player that the surface is no longer a place for humans. Nature is taking over and we are not part of its plan. This effect of nature beginning to fully take over gives a sense of pure hopelessness because it is apparent that life will never return to normal for people. Nature is leaving us behind. 


Metro: Last Light's story is one of the more criticized aspects of the game, well at least later on it is. Most praised Last Light's story up until a pivotal point in the plot, and after that point many criticized the story for "losing steam." I, however, believe the story in its entirety is excellent. During the highly praised part of the story, the metro is at the brink of war. There are three main groups at the core of this imposing conflict; the Fourth Reich (Nazis), the Red Line (Communists), and the Spartan Rangers. As these groups near war, intel is revealed that a dark one, an intelligent mutant species with strange, almost supernatural powers that was thought to be eradicated in the events of Metro 2033, is still alive. Arytom is tasked with finding this creature and bringing him back to the Spartan Rangers, but of course, nothing is ever that easy.

Can you guess who's in charge?

The conflicting groups in Last Light’s story is somewhat ironic to say the least. Human kind is on the brink of extinction and yet, as time has always proven, they still fight with each other for resources or differing ideologies. This aspect of Last Light's story shows humanity at its worst, and in all reality, although grim, this is probably how human kind would behave if a world altering event such as a nuclear apocalypse were to occur. This idea that conflict and self preservation is in human nature no matter what the cost drives much of Last Light's story and provides both a realistic and powerful outlook on an humanity's behavior in the event of an apocalypse. 

Now, where many believe that Last Light's story falters is later on when the story delves into more supernatural-ish concepts (although I'm sure they can be described scientifically) concerning the dark ones. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the story. By adding concepts about the dark ones that are difficult to explain, I believe that  this creates a bit more mystery and suspense over the entire story. To me, this part of the story was meant to show that although the apocalypse may have been the end of humanity, it was the dawn of a new species. The mystery behind the dark ones' origins and abilities reminds me of the mystery surrounding humanity's creation and our own abilities. This is, I believe, simply a deeper meaning behind a story that perhaps some failed to see. 



Last Light's characters are perhaps where Last Light does stumble a bit. The main character you play as is a newly appointed Spartan Ranger named Arytom. In game, he is a silent protagonist and much of his characterization is done through loading screens and journals. Through these self monologues, Arytom does reach some interesting character arcs late game and does come to some very insightful revelations, but when all is said and done, Arytom is for the most part a faceless, unmemorable, stereotypical FPS character. He simply does not reach the same memorability as other FPS characters such as Booker Dewitt, Jason Brody, or Gordon Freeman; characters such as the three mentioned have qualities about them that make them special, Arytom fails in that regard. 

Similarly, the rest of the character line up in Last Light falls into the same generic category that Arytom falls into. There just wasn’t anything special about any of the characters I met while playing Metro: Last Light. Every character from Khan to General Korbut fits some type of very generic character archetypes. To make matters even worse, facial animations and voice acting are lacking to say the least. 


Like Metro: Last Light's environment and story, Last Light's gameplay shines. There is an ample amount of variety in weaponry and customization which allows for great experimentation on approaching different combat situations. Guns also sound appropriately powerful and provide unrestrained, voluptuous entertainment when mowing down packs of mutants or soldiers. One of my favorite aspects of the guns in Metro: Last Light was the jerry-rigged feel of many of them such as the compressed air weapons. Throughout my multiple playthroughs, there was always one weapon in particular that I carried with me: the shambler. I always made sure to have a shambler on me with a long barrel and laser sight. Something about the revolver style ammo loader and way the hammer shot out to the side when shooting shells just seemed positively awesome to me. Even later on when I obtained an automatic shotgun with 20 shell round clip, I still stayed with my trusty shambler. 

I don't always choose to be unstealthy, but when I do, I choose frag genades

Beside the gunplay, stealth in Metro: Last Light was surprisingly well instituted into the game. Moving through the dark while turning off lights and silently eliminating enemies worked seamlessly. To me, figuring out a way to turn off the main lighting systems while remaining undetected by patrolling soldiers felt almost puzzle like, and once the lights were finally turned off, eliminating enemies felt that more satisfying. I, however, have two small complaints about the stealth mechanics of Metro: Last Light. Throwing knifes should not always be a one shot kill because for one; it makes stealth a bit too easy at times; and for two, it just looks incredibly stupid when I throwing knife someone in the foot and they instantly crumble to the ground.......dead. The other complaint is an inability to carry bodies after I've incapacitated them. Usually when I knock someone out in a game, I want to move them so that their buddies don't stumble upon the body and sound the alarm. Overall, however, the stealth aspect of Metro: Last Light is still an excellent part of the game.

Breath mint needed.......

Although the enemy AI can be a bit buggy at times and there could possibly be a little more variation in enemy type, they do still provide an adequate enough challenge and make the experience enjoyable. Human enemies are your standard armed soldiers and are really nothing out of the ordinary, but still get the job done. Mutants on the other hand, are appropriately terrifying and vicious. I really like that these mutants actually feel intimidating and are rightfully so. There has been many times where I simply ran because a demon or giant grasshopper was too much for me. 

Lastly, details such as having an air timer while being on the surface, wiping your mask off from dirt getting on it, having to charge one's flashlight instead of it having an unlimited battery, or even simply Artyom actually grabbing door handles to open doors make the experience more realistic, and thus for me, that much more enjoyable. For after all, it is the details that matter. 

If only I had a couple more barrels....


All in all, Metro: Last Light’s positives far out way its negatives. Albeit some flawed characters, it has an intense, grim environment; a gripping story; and great overall gameplay. As I said before, I really did not expect much out of Metro: Last Light, but now, I am thoroughly impressed and delighted at the sheer entertainment I experienced playing this game. I would suggest it to anyone who doesn’t mind fighting plenty of mutants and have a great time doing it. 

Final Verdict: 9/10

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