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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Builds on the first, and simply amazing., 24 Mar. 2014
By 
This review is from: Metro Last Light (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
If you are a guy like me and are looking for "that" game, i.e. a game (FPS) where it is all about survival, ammo conservation, dark and brooding atmosphere, and a wasteland that is incredibly bleak, gloomy and hostile towards you, THIS IS THE GAME. This, and Metro 2033. Forget S.T.A.L.K.E.R (too buggy, low budget and no proper voice acting), forget Fallout 3 & New Vegas (too campy and happy-go-lucky, especially the latter) and forget Left 4 Dead and the gazillion other zombie games out there as they have zero story and only focus on multiplayer.

METRO is where it's at, and if you loved the first game, you're going to love the second as well, take my word for it. Speaking of which, you really, really need to play Metro 2033 before picking up Last Light, because it is Metro 2033 that sets the story, atmosphere, main characters, background and politics of the post-apocalyptic Moscow Metro that you need to be well versed in, before playing Last Light. Heck, if your last playthrough of Metro 2033 was over 12 months ago, you might want to play it again before you start playing Last Light or you'll have a lot of trouble making sense of the stuff that's going around you.

That being said, while Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light share the same setting, both games have their own distinct feel. Metro 2033 was all about you. You felt lonely. Isolated. The Metro was your home. Even the brooding, dark tunnels. You longed for your comrades while you were on your way all by yourself between stations. You missed the warming campfires of the stations. In Metro Last Light on the other hand, you feel like you are part of something bigger. Realpolitik is happening all around you. The Metro feels a lot more alive that it ever seemed. You feel like you are a pawn in a chess game of politics. While Fallout games (especially New Vegas) have demonstrated that not even a nuclear apocalypse and annihilation of most of mankind can teach the survivors a lesson and change their basic human character to make them learn from the mistakes their predecessors made, Metro Last Light also puts emphasis on this compared to Metro 2033. Despite surviving the nuclear holocaust for some 20 odd years, the Moscow Metro is preparing for war. Cause for this war are part of the events in Metro 2033, namely the discovery of the pre-war D6 vault, which is now in the hands of the Sparta Rangers. And at the same time, Metro Last Light gives you ample amounts of all the experiences that made Metro 2033 so distinct. Dark metro tunnels? Check. Other sinister underground areas crawling with monsters? Check. The bleak, irradiated wasteland on the surface? Check. Scarcity of ammo, makeshift weapons and gas masks? Check. The refugee filled metro station hubs feeling like a home away from home? Check. Rewarding Stealth gameplay? Check. Awesome weather effects? Check. Engaging story? Check!

Admittedly, the story requires an hour or two before it really starts picking up pace, and the game has plenty of moments so atmospheric that you get completely engrossed playing, no longer realizing you are merely playing a video game. Metro Last Light takes you to several iconic locations you had only heard about in Metro 2033, so a sightseeing tour is also part of this great game. And the best thing is, on mid to low end PCs, it runs a lot smoother than Metro 2033. Heck, even on all LOW settings this game still looks bloody brilliant. The only effect that sucks is heat effects, as they look rubbish all the way until you set the graphics to VERY HIGH (which can be a real system hog, but doesnt otherwise improve visual quality by much, for some strange reason). Of course, SSAO will kill your framerate, but if you can run it, more power to you!

Something new that Metro Last Light introduces is weapon customization. From various scopes and gun barrel extensions to silencers and improved gas tanks that dont leak for pneumatic weapons, there's something for everyone here. Oh and no matter how much you scavenge, you'll never end up with too much money. The difficulty I recommend for a first playthrough is HARDCORE. My only real problem with this game is some of the boss battles. I'm never a fan of boss battles, and even less so of boss battles where you can't conventionally wound the creature and must employ some trick to trigger it to expose its weak spot and you have to keep doing this multiple times to bring it down. Ugh - that is so 90s. At least boss battles where you can bring down the creature by simply emptying all your rounds into it is somewhat rewarding, as it motivates you to keep saving up ammo for such encounters. Boss battles where you just keep dying until you have to ALT-Tab out of the game and open up a walkthrough on the internet to figure out just what the hell you're supposed to do on the other hand, is a real bummer.

Just like its predecessor, Metro Last Light has a moral system as well as two possible endings. However, unlike Metro 2033, you actions throughout the game no longer reward you with the option of choosing your ending in the final moments of the game, but instead your actions in Metro Last Light will decide which ending you are going to get. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of Metro Last Light players will get one ending (which I would thus like to call the default ending) and only those who pay close attention to what is required to do have any hope of getting the alternate ending. Thus I would not call these Good and Bad endings, rather Default and Alternate/Hidden ending - because the latter is so frustratingly hard to achieve that I have to frown and shake my head at the developers for making it so unattainable. One such decision required to get the alternate ending is to knock out enemies instead of stealth-killing them. However, if this is the case, then knocking them out has no immediate negative consequences at all - they DO NOT wake up after some time and pose a threat to your progress through the particular room you are still in. So, knocking them out instead of killing is always the better solution. I think 4A Games could have (should have!) put more thought into this morality system.

DLC

Regarding the DLC, if we choose to ignore the travesty that is Ranger Mode DLC (basically PAYING money to have your HUD, remaining filter time and indicator of which throwable item you have selected rendered invisible), the game has four other DLC packs, most of which are worth buying (at least, during a 75% off steam sale):

Chronicles Pack (5/5)

In the Chronicles Pack you get to play more missions directly linked to Metro Last Light's story, except as one of the characters Artyom encounters instead of as himself. The first mission, Anna, takes you back to the beginning of the story and puts you in Anna's shoes. First you provide covering fire for Artyom during the Watchmen attack and then get to snipe Nazis. I also love how rapidly the time passes during this mission. Unrealistic, yes, but it does demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the 4A Engine and how - the very same map - can have a completely different atmosphere between evening and night. Unfortunately this mission is the shortest of the three, as it only lasts for about 15-20 minutes; 25 if you die and have to redo part of it. The next mission puts you in the shoes of Pavel, the Communist Artyom frees when he is seized by the Nazis. Pavel's mission is an awesome one. Great parts of it involve stealth, and the fact that you have really little ammunition really doesnt give you a choice to go in guns blazing and not get killed. The mission has alternating paths, all of which are worth exploring, but ultimately lead to the same main areas. The mission ends in a metro hub (presumably some other part of the Venice station), and you get to watch a peep show or treat yourself to a fortune telling lady (very recommended!) before heading home to the Red Line. Oh and don't get fooled by the ammunition shop here - it is useless unless you, for some reason, have 0 military grade ammunition by the end of the level and can thus exchange some of your normal bullets for them to partake in the above mentioned activities. The final mission lets you play as the (sometimes unnecessarily) wisecracking Ulman, who is accompanying Khan on one of his missions. This mission is atmospherically speaking SO DAMN GOOD it is a shame it wasn't in the main game. It reminds me of Metro 2033's most iconic creepy supernatural moments that the main story of Metro Last Light couldn't really match up to, at least not to the intense level this mission does - WORTH PLAYING! Watch out for the final part of this mission, though - you have to concentrate on the mission objective and not get distracted by killing enemies or you will run out of ammo and get eaten. All in all, the Chronicles Pack yields about 2 hours of satisfying gameplay.

Factions Pack (4/5)

Heavy Squad - this mission is one of the....scratch that... THE shortest and THE most badly designed mission in the entire Metro series so far. Ugh. No storytelling, no level design, nothing. You basically get carted to a platform from where you get to mow down Communists using a huge gatling gun and then get to take out enemy snipers using a gun very similar to Metro 2033's Volt Driver. Unfortunately, this mission is a fragfest and you keep getting killed over and over again on the harder difficulty levels, and the mission is only about 10 minutes long while it keeps ramping up in difficulty. You can watch a youtube walkthrough of it if you dont want to pull your hair out trying to complete it yourself and failing over and over again. It's just insane. But if you really want to do it yourself and get some enjoyment out of it (and the achievement) then I recommend doing this on Easy.

Polis Kshatriya - now THIS IS WHAT I CALL AN AWESOME MISSION! Basically I get the huge feeling that the developers listened to fan feedback and decided to incorporate proper RPG gameplay into a Metro mission for once. The Kshatriya mission is radically different from any Metro mission you have encountered so far. It completely abandons the traditional Metro linear shooter gameplay and replaces it with gameplay found in traditional RPGs like Fallout 3 or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I think Metro is paying homage to the latter (you're even referred to as a Stalker!), and I find this really cool. Basically the gameplay revolves around you starting in a safehouse and venturing out into an open-world type of environment where you go exploring and treasure hunting. There is a list of items you need to bring back, and these can be exchanged for military grade bullets, which you then use to purchase things that you will need to survive before you leave the safehouse again in search of more items. As you can see, this is the good old, tried and tested traditional RPG mechanic found in Bethesda or Stalker games, minus the quests. Definitely a refreshing and rewarding new experience in the Metro universe, were it not for one small caveat: both the Stalker and Fallout games allow you to quicksave almost anytime and anywhere you want. In the Kshatriya mission however, you need to return to the base to be able to save. You can also only lug 5 artifacts at once. Sometimes the game glitches and an artifact never shows up in the location it is supposed to be, which really sucks as in this case you have to start the game again. Also, when you collect the last "legendary" artifact, you need to remember that you won't be able to come back again, so you have to make sure you've ticked off all collected artifacts on your list before collecting the last one. Fortunately, as you explore the exterior environment, you will find many shortcuts that lead back to the base without having to backpedal all the way back, but the level can still get frustrating for both newbies and experienced players. Kshatriya nets in about 2 hours of gameplay, give or take 15 minutes depending on whether this is your first playthrough or not.

Sniper Team - If Metro Last Light ever had a dedicated sniper mission, this is it. And it is a pretty sweet mission. Nightfall, heavy rain, two snipers (though you do all the work). Your job is to infiltrate a Reich facility and you have to work your way from the outside to the inside. There are guards everywhere - on watchtowers, around campfires, and among partially collapsed building ruins. You need to take them out in the proper order or the entire base will be alerted and you will fail the mission. Obviously, guards on towers first. ALL towers in the local vicinity, that is. Then the others. Keep an eye out for your gas filters though, as the entire mission takes place outside. Sniper Team nets you anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes worth of gameplay.

Developer Pack (3/5)

The developer pack itself is pretty much a fail. The fact that you have to pay money to be treated into what Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 essentially included for FREE (and we all know how stingy Activi$ion is) five years ago speaks volumes. You get a museum where you can view all the major (and minor) characters of Metro Last Light, some generic soldiers of different factions, and of course, most of the monsters. Pressing E next to each of the displayed specimens opens a screen where you can rotate them and view their different animations, such as idle, walking, running and attacking. Then you have the firing range, which is somewhat useful in that it allows you to experiment with all 20ish weapons and their attachments without having to burn through a ton of military grade ammo by purchasing them in the campaign. What's really funny is that you can fight against an enemy at the firing range that SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE CAMPAIGN! Seriously, I know there are tons of games that feature these kinds of enemies, but it would have made perfect sense regarding the latter half of Metro Last Light's plot. A bummer, that you only meet them in the firing range. Here's to hoping the next Metro game will feature them. Anyways, and then you have the arena, where you can pit different enemy types against each other and watch them fight. Gets boring after one minute.

Before we label the Developer Pack a complete failure, there is one thing it adds, namely the Spider Mission. Called "Through the Flames", this really is an atmospheric, almost nightmarish experience where you get to wield a powerful new weapon, the flamethrower. There is something uniquely satisfying about setting entire colonies of spider eggs ablaze in the cleansing fires of petroleum. Oh and the ending had me smirking. Basically consider the Developer Pack only worth buying due to this mission. But at 50 minutes, it does not provide the amount of combined gameplay that either the Chronicles or the Faction packs provide. Thus, a 3/5.

Tower Pack (2/5)

The Tower Pack is the hardest and most removed from regular story-based Metro gameplay of all DLCs released. It is basically a series of arenas where you test your mettle against the toughest combat situations the A.I. can throw at you. Hordes of Nosalises, dozens of Kalash-wielding soldiers and more storm arena-like battlegrounds and you have to defeat these waves, although in some of these arenas you can buy allies to help you out similar to the mechanic found in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3's Survival mode. But here the fight is a lot tougher - it's basically nothing but a grindfest. And by that I mean you will keep dying, dying, and dying some more until you perfect a strategy for each level (or watch walkthroughs on youtube). Play this if you have ridiculous amounts of time to kill and/or are a hardcore FPS junkie who needs to hone his skills and put his reflexes and hand-eye coordination to the ultimate test. Fun is certainly an adjective I would NOT use to describe this storyless, charmless DLC pack.

Overall, Metro Last Light is a rarity in that it is a sequel that is on par with, if not surpassing (in terms of content offered and variety of locations presented), the awesome game that started it all, Metro 2033. There is not a single argument that I could bring forth to tell any Metro 2033 player to not buy and play this game. Thus, 5 out of 5 stars for this long awaited, worthy sequel set in a world that has a unique charm that NO other video game series in existence out there can replicate.
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Location: Wien, Österreich

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