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Metro: Last Light

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By MrJenssen13-05-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Mokman (editor)
Metro: Last Light

The Defence

Developer:
4A Games
Publisher:
Deep Silver
Genre:
Shooter
Release Date:
US 14-05-2013
EU 17-05-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core i5 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 480
AMD equivalent
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
9 GB
DirectX:
9.0c, 10, 11

The Case

 

2010’s Metro 2033 is considered by many to be a flawed masterpiece, but to others it’s only remembered as a mere graphics benchmark. Though it certainly had its issues - the artificial intelligence, or lack thereof, was a real sinner - few can deny the fact that Metro 2033 was more immersive than most of the shooters found on the market at the time. After three years, Ukrainian developer 4A Games is finally ready to release the sequel. Does it live up to expectations?

The Trial

 

Last Light picks up the story some time after Metro 2033’s climactic ending. As those who finished Metro 2033 will remember (spoilers for Metro 2033!), The Dark Ones are all but vanquished after you - in the boots of the young Ranger Artyom - installed a laser guidance system which allowed a missile strike to eradicate them all, thus saving the D6 bunker and humanity. Or so you thought.

Moments like this are few and far between.

Moments like this are few and far between.

During the opening minutes of Last Light, you learn that a single Dark One has been spotted around the area of the missile strike, which is close to the D6 bunker where you now reside. You go out with a partner to try and catch the creature, but instead, you end up getting caught by a party of soldiers from the Fourth Reich, the Metro universe’s Nazi faction. After being transported to a Nazi concentration camp, you manage to escape with the some help from a fellow prisoner. You’ll come to appreciate his company - a reliable ally is not something you should take for granted in the murky tunnels of Moscow’s post-apocalyptic metro, the last bastion of mankind. Since Last Light is so tightly linked with its predecessor, it can sometimes get a little confusing for newcomers to the franchise. But 4A Games does an admirable job of bringing up events of the last game through flashbacks, conversations and diary entries, though it’s still recommended that you complete Metro 2033 before you embark upon this journey.

Completing the game will not likely happen in one sitting. The amount of time it takes to reach the finish line depends on the difficulty setting you play on, as well as the amount of time you are willing to invest in the world of Metro. Even if you rush through the game - not bothering with reading Artyom’s insightful diary entries, stopping your railcar to explore a side alley or choosing to take the stealthy route through enemy occupied areas - you’ll still have to work hard if you hope to finish the game in less than 10 hours. If you wish to do the game justice though - you’ll take your time. Listen in on conversations, explore the world around you, perhaps get a lapdance in one of the Metro’s populated neutral hubs. If you do, then you’ll easily round 12 hours before you find yourself at the end (13, if you’re really into lapdances). And that’s no small feat, considering how other linear shooters tend to cut the trip off at Last Light’s halfway-mark. Last Light also doesn’t have any of BioShock Infinite’s issues concerning pacing and variety in gameplay. This game barely lets you feel like you’ve mastered one type of enemy or situation before it throws a completely different one at you.

This isn’t going to end well...

This isn’t going to end well...

Gameplay-wise, Last Light retains many aspects that made Metro 2033 interesting and unique; military grade bullets are still used as currency and you’ll still have to recharge your flashlight with a hand-pump. It also improves upon the inferior qualities of its predecessor. For example, the AI got a really beefy overhaul. Metro 2033 struggled in this regard, sometimes making it impossible to sneak by enemies without getting spotted. It’s still not perfect, with some odd behaviours and repetitive animations occurring every now and then but it’s an enormous improvement overall and Last Light’s AI is certainly not worse than any other AAA-standard FPS out on the market today. The weapon management also has gotten an overhaul, making it easier to switch between weapons and check on the supplies. Moreover, the game comes with a good chunk of new additions. Weapons, for instance, are now upgradable with silencers, scopes and other modifications. There’re more weapon types as well, more mutants, more cinematic set-pieces and more interaction with the game’s world. There’s even slightly more room for exploration.

It’s easy to see that Hardcore, the highest difficulty setting without the Ranger DLC, is how the developers wanted you to play it. On Hardcore, the enemy AI is at its sharpest, and deadliest. Each fight with human opponents will prove a challenge, often to such a degree that you’ll find yourself sneaking through certain areas desperately hoping you won’t get noticed. Whilst your enemies are both relatively smart and highly accurate, they still go down with a few bullets or a homemade pipebomb should shit hit the fan. Fighting mutants is equally dangerous and much more frightening. They’ll startle the living daylights out of you with their howls, long before you can even see them. They’re smarter than your average videogame monster too, using the environment to cover their advance, before they lunge at you with their sharp teeth and claws.

Though mutants are hard to fool in the dark, human enemies can usually be avoided with the game’s very basic but effective stealth system. And when I say “basic”, I mean basic; Last Light doesn’t give you any one-button X-ray vision showing you the location of all enemies or any loot in the area. There are no lit paths or recommended pathways either. You only have your own cunning and makeshift weapons to help you out. In today’s industry of hand-holders and virtual pacifiers, the tense and unforgiving stealth system of Last Light feels like a breath of fresh air. Encountering enemies, independent of how you choose to deal with them, is always tense.

Stealth. It works.

Stealth. It works.

On the technical side of things, 4A Games really hits it out of the park. The game looks, sounds and feels great. Well, great for a game set in a world where humanity dwell in mutant-infested tunnels and the surface is a nuclear wasteland. The game uses the developer’s own 4A Engine, the same one used for Metro 2033, though significantly upgraded. I could go into detail on how good the game looks but I believe the screenshots speak for themselves. Keep in mind, these were taken with settings on High. Very High was a bit too much for my now aging Geforce GTX 560TI and I also kept Tesselation disabled. For those of you with a bigger powerhorse, there’s a little more visual oomph to crank out of this game. It’s remarkable just how much these Ukranian masterminds have managed to do with their own engine, in many ways it rivals the bigger AAA-developers out there, easily dethroning juggernauts like CryTek on both a technical and artistic level. Though it’s obvious that the developers don’t have access to advanced tools and gizmos, like Tomb Raider’s Tress FX or L.A. Noire’s facial technology, that doesn’t seem to hold them back. Last Light is easily one of the most amazing looking games out there.

Though it’s a relatively demanding game, the visuals you get easily justify the performance. Now, that’s not to say it’s a poorly optimized game. It certainly isn’t. And even for those of you with weaker computers, playing Last Light on Medium isn’t bad at all.

This is no mine. It's a tomb!

This is no mine. It's a tomb!

Last Light’s sound design is another incredible feat. The soundtrack, weapon sounds, mutant howls and other effects are all crafted with love and attention to detail. Voice acting is not one of the game’s strong suits though - it’s more than acceptable throughout but it’s easy to notice that only a handful of people have offered their voices to the many characters you meet throughout the game. It’s not nearly as big an issue as in open-world games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but it can still get a little tiresome to hear the same Hollywood-esque “Russian” voice coming from the mouths of several different people.

Metro: Last Light is like The Witcher 2 of the FPS genre. This little team of developers have somehow managed to put together an authentic, believable world, which is a unique take on the genre. Both a stunning looker and a deep thinker compared to other contemporaries, Last Light isn’t afraid to tap into mature themes, showing the truly merciless brutality of mankind pushed to the brink of extinction.

The Verdict

 

Metro: Last Light is quite a package. Graphics, sound, gameplay, story, it all melts together to make the perfect dish. To top it off, where other shooters call it a day at the 4-6 hours mark and a thrown-in cliffhanger ending to sell the sequel early, Last Light just keeps pushing on into uncharted territories, with great success. It delivers everything you could possibly want from a cinematic, linear shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world, and then some.

Though it’s hard to go into too much detail about the game without spoiling things, you’re just going to have to take my word for it - Metro: Last Light is one of the most amazing games I’ve ever played. Sure, there are things that aren’t perfect. The AI flunks out on the odd occasion, animations could be a bit more fluid, being able to lean left and right would be helpful when you’re sneaky and I do wish that there was more to spend money on; the weapons you buy in stores can also be pried off dead enemies for free. But every little flaw you could possibly find is vastly outnumbered by the enormous positives.

Case Review

  • Beautiful: Last light is as beautiful as it is terrifying.
  • Mature: It’s not often you see a shooter go this deep into the mature themes found in Last Light.
  • Lengthy: It can take you a dozen hours to complete Last Light if you immerse yourself in the world.
  • Scavenge Or Die: In Hardcore difficulty, you may sometimes be forced to re-load an entire chapter due to a lack of ammo or gas mask filters making it impossible to proceed if you don’t scavenge enough.
  • Minor Quibbles: Some gameplay elements could be better. If you desperately try to find something to criticize.
  • Ranger Tax: “Ranger Mode”, advertised as the way Last Light was really meant to be played, won’t be there to murder you unless you get the DLC.
5
Score: 5/5
No game is perfect, but Metro: Last Light comes pretty damn close.

Appeal

Thirty minutes in and I already knew I loved this game. Bear in mind, this was before I'd even left the first hallway. Yeah, you read that right, I lingered in the first hallway of the game for more than half an hour, simply soaking up the details, the idle conversation, the atmosphere. Atmosphere is the key word here, being the most prevalent thing Last Light brings to the table. It has atmosphere not only by the bucket load, or even by the shitload. Last Light has atmosphere by the star load, the almost infinitely dense neutron star load at that. The next thirteen or so hours I pumped into the game merely reinforced this feeling. Everything is deliriously gorgeous.

Honestly, I can't find a single genuine fault with it. If I really had to pick holes, the only complaint would be the lack of Ranger mode as a standard part of the game. And when the only complaint you receive amounts to “why is there no insanely hard, kill you in the face with a thermonuclear pickaxe, option?” you know you've made a great game. Not only did they take everything that was wrong with the first game and fix it, they took everything that was right with the first game and fixed that too. The end result is, quite possibly, as close to perfection as any game gets.

5
Score: 5/5

Appeal

Metro 2033 was a great game. A flawed one, but great nevertheless. So obviously, expectations for Metro: Last Light were high. The transition from THQ to Deep Silver did bring some extra concern but the trailers from under the “new management” looked better than ever before. And now the game is finally out... well not out per se, at least not for you lot, but it’s in my hands/Steam library. I can tell you that I’m still in awe! The game had faced high expectations and it still managed to exceed them. Everything that was wrong with the first game was addressed and everything that was great about it was boosted to the next level.

You could start nitpicking and point out that it doesn’t have a FOV slider (though the default setting is perfectly fine), that there aren’t that many graphical settings, no save/quick save function and an occasional glitch here and there. Though the only glitch I encountered was when Artyom was having a drink and the bartender started to glide a bit off the ground, but that can be taken as a “drunk feature” which only made me laugh. But all these shortcomings are so minor and meaningless compared to the whole experience, which will either keep you on the edge of your seat or marvelling at the spectacular visuals around (and in most cases - both). Oh just get the damn game – you owe it to yourself!

5
Score: 5/5
Comments (31)
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Posts: 2783

I'm beginning to wonder too. My rig is notorious for hitting the odd, but annoying, glitches that the tiny percentage get, but it ran smooth as butter.

Very weird

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Posts: 1507

It is so strange to read about all the issues people are having. I am very sensitive to most of them but I didnt find any of them on LL. Controls were perfectly fine, FOV was...standard (non console), had one glitch that was more funny than anything else, no bugs, found the AI pretty advanced (with few minor quirks), etc.
Did we get a different version of the game to review?

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Posts: 2783

That's really weird. I have a cheapish 2400dpi mouse, so it's definitely not a sensitivity issue. The only thing I can thing of is maybe your dpi is too high and made it crap out? Might be worth firing off a bug report to 4A/Deep Silver about it

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Posts: 341

I had default mouse sensitivity, moving up/down was a chore, everything else was fine though. It kind of felt like a negative acceleration was enabled for vertical movement. I have a G400 by Logitech.

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Posts: 2783

Dafuq? I had no problems with it. Curious. In fact, I had my in game sensitivity set to about 15% the entire time. Which mouse are you using?

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Posts: 1243

That's really strange, Xidio. I know of your problem, I've had it in some games too. But not at all in Last Light. Control-wise, it always felt exactly like every shooter out there, no worse and no better.

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Posts: 341

Performance even while recording is pretty good.
Graphics are nice and pretty.
The PhysX effects are very... lacking, is the destruction of objects part of physx or the game itself? The tesselation doesnt seem to work, even in the benchmark, when you get your scores you get this message that says "Tesselation not supported" wut?

My problem remains though, with the mouse movement, vertical that is, need to use an entire desk, just to look up or down.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-8F70qZYC4

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Posts: 341

Looking up/down is a pain in this game.

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Posts: 2783

Maybe after you've read the .pdf of Metro 2033 we all forgot to mention was included with the game

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Posts: 1243

I'd love to do that if I could, but right now there's way too much on my plate. I think it's best that I let the experience simmer a bit still, before I attempt another go. Perhaps after that Ranger Mode comes out.