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"If it's hostile, you kill it."
These words were spoken to Artyom at the beginning of Metro 2033, a cult hit that nobody really played, but the few who did described it as a flawed gem. These words became the most important in the game, but not obviously so. Gamers were greeted with an ending that resonated with many players because the final decision haunted them throughout the game. It was a depressing end that left many players foaming at the mouth for more. Luckily even after the unfortunate demise of THQ and its company 4A Games, Deep Silver took over the reins and managed to push Metro: Last Light out to the public after some polishing.
Last Light is in every shape and form superior to its aforementioned predecessor, but it's also a different game in some ways. The overall experience is tighter and feels similar to a movie blockbuster, but features innumerable sections of survival horror sprinkled throughout to retain the immersion and atmosphere that made the original so brilliant. Take a trip into darkness, and you won't believe the horror, heartbreak, and suspense featured in this package; be prepared to be blown away.
Last Light's narrative is the strongest point of the entire package. It's an engrossing look into human nature, that I have never experienced before. Artyom, the protagonist from the previous entry, begins another journey that sends him spiraling into a plot that threatens to destroy the whole metro system, and it's his vocation to unravel the sinister cabal, while at the same time preventing its execution. The factions get more of the spotight this time around. Exploring the inner workings of both the "Reds" and "Nazis" is intriguing stuff, especially when taking into consideration the conflict is a smaller part of a bigger picture. Exploring each of the locations of the metro and the varied ways individuals entertain themselves with life so they can forget the obvious tragedy was one of the best parts of the first.
There are more ways you can observe, whether it be a full fledged theatre act, or a small hand puppet show a man shows to kids to take their mind off of the mutants, but is proving difficult, it's all fascinating and heartwrenching and new to this entry. Here was a grand civilization swept away by the consequences of nuclear warfare, only to make the surviving residents scrounge for food in the most unlikely places, for hope it seems is lost. The only remnants of the lost world above ground are found in the memories of individuals who lived through the bomb, and it's the one thing nobody can take away from them. Artyom's journey provides a look into the lives of these individuals, and lends perspective towards the amount we take for granted on this planet we live on. Layered characters, engrossing narrative, and a powerful conclusion accompany this grief stricken world of reminiscing and provides one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had.
Metro 2033 was an extremely impressive game visually, but technically left more to be desired. The game was poorly optimized leading to numerable framerate issues and poor performance for PC's that could run it at max settings. Last Light fixes these performance issues, and provides a more stable play time overall. There are occasional framerate hiccups in the console version, but overall the game runs smoothly. As I stated before, the visuals were given alot more diversity in this iteration away from the continuous metro tunnels that were pervasive in 2033; this features a lot more of the outside world such as a fishing metro station and the entertainment capital of the metro system and then some. Animation is superb and very lifelike specifically when the inhabitants are sitting at tables talking, or fishing, minding their own business, and accompanying voice-acting for the character models is top-notch. The sound does occasionally cut out when firing your gun, but it's ultimately negligible and doesn't affect the overall experience. It's the little details in the presentation that make a game great and Last Light soars in every category.
The gameplay in Last Light offers a lot of freedom, but it's a subtle amount of freedom that doesn't shove it into the player's face. The Metro games have numerous ways to draw the player into its story through its first-person view that seamlessly fits into this world. They are complements that the developers go out of their way to include, but don't have to be there. Whether it be pulling out your physical journal to look at your objective list, pulling out your lighter when your flashlight runs out, or even when your flashlight goes out, recharging it with a hand pump, the game features immersion flowing out its ears and it benefits greatly because of it. Artyom is a silent protganist in-game, but you feel every breath he takes, every wound he recieves, and the impact of every rare bullet catridge he picks up because the game goes out if its way to make you feel for him.
Gunplay has been improved over the predecessor. It's much tighter than before, but still retains the 'mechanical' feel of the guns from the first. You still have to pump certain guns for extra firepower, some guns will jam and overheat, and you can customize your guns with barrel, scope, and stock attachments this time around leading to more characterization of one's playstyle. The guns feel heavy and industrial, giving the player a really satisfying bite when pulling the trigger on unsuspecting mutants or humans. Last Light also places the player into more varied scenarios, giving the player a sense of a ever-evolving experience, making the player adapt to each one and finding the best way to overcome it. The does have pacing issues including some sections that feel like padding and one section that overstays its welcome, but ultimately the game runs at breakneck speed while leaving the small moments for characterization and observation.
Metro: Last Light completely blew my expectations out of the water. The psychological mind games near the end-game are abstract and intruguing while the action setpieces are grand and thrilling. The game never ceases to surprise with its plot twists and turns that keeps the player invested and intrigued in the game's world. Allow Last Light to take you by the hand and lead you on a journey into darkness that you'll never forget. Just remember, "If it's hostile, you kill it."