"Aside from the conservative addition of color in a few places, Metro: Last Light carries an unwelcoming sense of Déjà vu."
When Metro 2033 released in 2010, it portrayed a stunning illustration of Russia’s post apocalyptic underworld and its hefty system requirements became the benchmark for PC enthusiasts. The atmosphere and narrative were exemplary, but the sluggish gameplay hampered the otherwise immersive experience and offered very little replay value. Even though I enjoyed the original, the overabundance of post apocalyptic titles this generation makes it hard to care for another desaturated end-of-the-world extravaganza. And although earlier gameplay trailers showcased quite a bit of gameplay diversity, particularly in the stealth department, the sequel returns with the same strengths and weaknesses of the original for an adventure that feels more like a re-make than a fleshed out successor.
Set in the same post-apocalyptic Moscow underworld of the predecessor, Metro: Last Light continues the story of Artyom who sets out to discover the meaning behind the “dark ones.” The dark and detailed environments of Metro 2033 return, but they lack the same atmospheric impact of the original. Aside from the conservative addition of color in a few places, Metro: Last Light carries an unwelcoming sense of Déjà vu. The various underground camps feel like revamped versions of old levels and the few areas of polish only accentuate the lack of diversity in the design. While the PC version provides significantly richer aesthetics, an NVIDIA TITAN (or an Radeon 7970) is needed to fully appreciate the game as intended. Basically…very few gamers will get the most out it. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 version is a considerable step down. Textures are low quality, the lighting lacks proper contrast in a lot of places, and there’s even quite a bit of pop-up (which is unacceptable seeing that most areas are narrow closed-off spaces).
"The sluggish, imprecise shooting of Metro 2033 has changed very little. When hectic shootouts occur, they feel like you’re throwing bullets into the dark and there’s little satisfaction behind landing kills."
This isn’t to say that the graphics are bad per se; they just haven’t been properly optimized for consoles. Despite the derivative levels, there are still a few sights worth seeing. The surface levels are now vast open areas that are tricky to traverse and provide a nice visual break from the grim underworld. The dense crumbling exteriors of Moscow are a nice touch, but it’s a shame that the gameplay hasn’t seen much improvement. The sluggish, imprecise shooting of Metro 2033 has changed very little. When hectic shootouts occur, they feel like you’re throwing bullets into the dark and there’s little satisfaction behind landing kills. Making matters worse are the drawn out escort/follow sections…you know the ones that NOBODY likes. One minute you find yourself fighting for your life…the next you’re following an AI companion for what feels like an eternity.
On a brighter note, the stealth mechanics finally feel functional (unlike the embarrassing mess in Metro 2033) and are probably the most enjoyable aspects of the game. There are plenty of opportunities to ninja your way through large sections of the game… and honestly, I wish the entire venture allowed for a stealthier approach. The world of Metro begs for a stealth-oriented experience but is constantly interrupted by poor action sequences and unnecessary handholding.
"Metro: Last Light is a strange sequel because for all the things it does right, it makes the same mistakes as its predecessor."
Upgrading weapons plays a larger part this time around, but you only need a few parts to get by. Get a scope and silencer for the stealth sections, get clip extension and precision scopes for the heavier artillery…and voila, you’re done. I customized my guns only once or twice during my playthrough and never revisited the upgrade kiosks again. The sound doesn’t fare any better. While the guns and environmental effects sound fantastic, the awful stereotypical fake Russian accents are absolutely unbearable. Even the presence of Nolan North and Patton Oswalt can’t remedy the atrocious dialogue.
Metro: Last Light is a strange sequel because for all the things it does right, it makes the same mistakes as its predecessor. The improved and exciting stealth sections are completely ruined by awful shootouts and the game oftentimes forgets that you even exist. You find yourself walking down corridors listening to annoying AI banter for way too long before anything exciting happens. It feels like you’re in control maybe 40% of the time while the rest consists of pressing the analog stick forward until you’re “guided” to the next area. And while Metro has always been a more story driven experience, its narrative is derivative and unexciting making it hard to become immersed in Russia’s crumbling underworld. And how about that 5$ difficulty mode that you need to "pay" for (unless you pre-ordered the game) in order to get a little extra replayability....please…now they’re just messing with us.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Xbox 360