Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptionally well-crafted first-person adventure, 24 Nov 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Metro Last Light (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
Metro 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.

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 favour 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.

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 skittering claws.

The characters in the metro react to each other in authentic ways. 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 instead.

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.

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 manoeuvre 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. You use a number of weapons to fend them off, all of which look and sound appropriately powerful.

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 favour. It's best to scavenge for supplies and ammo in every nook-and-cranny.

You must don a gas mask to stay alive, but masks require filters, which have limited life spans. You discover more filters by exploring, 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.

The surface brings a tenuous visual warmth, even though the sunlight is diffused through dreary grey clouds. Metro Last Light, while beautiful, is not beautifully optimised. But even if you're forced to lower the resolution and turn off advanced physics, this ruined world is too grotesquely gorgeous not to appreciate.

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.

The games astounding atmosphere fills you with dread, the tale it tells is a surprisingly touching story about loss and hope. And exploring the surface is both frightening and exciting - as the games pacing allows tension to build before the action heats-up.

Metro Last Light is not an endless barrage of bullets and beasts. Last Light is notably superior to it's predecessor, merging storytelling, shooting, and sneaking into a remarkable and cohesive whole.
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4.2 out of 5 stars (20 customer reviews)
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