Saturday, April 19, 2014

Metro: Last Light Review (PS3)

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews are intended to gather more information on games and hear other people's opinions before you purchase it yourself. This review captures no one's opinion but my own- you can use it to influence your opinion but you should keep an open mind and acknowledge that opinions can greatly differ. Thank you.

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I went in to play Metro: Last Light, but admittedly it wasn't much. From the gameplay I had seen, it was simply a Russian first person shooter set it the future that would mildly entertain me. After completing the game last night, however, I have to say that Metro: Last Light is one of my favorite games of all time and is comparable to Bioshock in many ways, including the gripping story. Last Light is based off of the novel Metro 2033 (also the name of the first game) and the author assisted in the writing of the game, and the benefits of that are demonstrated very clearly throughout the in game universe. Although the gameplay isn't anything revolutionary, the story is spectacular and memorable. It's one thing to have an indie game with a fantastic story, but when you pair it with solid gameplay and pretty graphics, you get a beautiful piece of art.

Metro: Last Light takes place in the year 2034 after the surface world is destroyed and uninhabitable by humans due to radiation from nuclear war. As a result, the human race has taken to the Metro, the subterranean train lines located all around Russia. Within the Metro, there are three main groups trying to take control: The Red Line, or the communists, Reich, a rather large group of Nazis, and the Rangers of the Order, who are the 'good guys' who try and save the Metro from going to Hell (moreso than it already has). The player takes control of Artyom, a Ranger with a mysterious connection with the Dark Ones. The Dark Ones are a race of incredibly strong and stealthy creatures with psychic abilities that feared and attacked the humans living in the Metro. Because of this, Artyom is ordered to fire missiles and wipes out the Dark Ones. The game starts off with a sighting of a living Dark One, and you are ordered to go find it. I did not get the chance to play Metro 2033, but the opening of the game was still able to explain everything to me exceptionally well. The story is long and emotional, as you develop relationships with other characters and make story-altering decisions. The voice-acting is all very convincing (except for when characters cut each other off, there is an awkward second of silence) and I felt connected to the world not in a chummy way (like Zeke in Infamous), but on another level (like Rapture in Bioshock). Metro: Last Light is very artsy, but not in a pretentious teenage girl kind of way, but it sends a lot of messages including political statements, stances on morality, etc. Not to mention the story itself is very interesting.

The gameplay in Metro: Last Light is for the most part your average first person shooter. You can carry up to three guns at a time (swapping with whatever you find throughout your journey) and each type of gun can be upgraded in several different ways. You also get a knife for when you run out of bullets or when you want a stealthy kill. Stealth is a surprisingly large part of the game as you spend most of your time alone trying to get past Nazis or Reds, so you have several options for quiet kills. There's the stabbing I mentioned earlier, you can also use throwing knives (which are recoverable), and if you're lucky, a single shot from a silenced gun won't alarm anyone. You also get a flashlight which runs out of power relatively quickly and requires you to manually charge it, or you can use a lighter (which gives away your position almost instantly and provides barely sufficient light). The gameplay to me was fantastic in combat, but it was a little difficult to maintain bullets. I had to complete an entire bossfight with only throwing knives, and I would not recommend taking that approach. I do, however, really appreciate all the effort that they put into immersion: You can put on a gas mask for when the air is impure (mostly on the surface) and you have a watch that counts down how much air you have left, which can be increased by finding or stealing filters from corpses. If blood or water gets over your mask, you can tap L2 to wipe it off. Your lighter can be used to burn cobwebs and light torches, both of which are completely optional. The developers added so many ways for you to interact with Artyom and make sure he doesn't die and that's a very respectable approach. I know that there are usable grenades, but I went through the whole game without using a single one so that should say something about their importance. Exploring is done very well, as you get the chance to go to the main stations throughout the Metro and you can hear stories from beggars, eavesdrop on citizens speaking, even pay for a stripper. There are plenty of secrets and fun things to find in the Metro, and that's always a nice touch. All in all, the gameplay was very enjoyable but really nothing terribly unique besides the massive difference between stealth and combat.

The graphics were quite nice, in my personal opinion. The character models on mutants and soldiers were very clean looking, even moreso on key characters. You could also see emotion in faces very clearly (although not nearly as clearly as Infamous: Second Son) and the backgrounds were great. There are many times where you are shown what's left of Moscow and the decaying city looks great. Well, it looks terrible, but graphic-wise it looks great. Once again bringing up Bioshock, the only real complaint I have for the graphics is that everything, despite it being clear what it is, has sort of a gross jelly texture to it. Now, in Bioshock this was barely noticable and in Metro: Last Light even less so, but it was there and it was a tiny bit annoying.

Most people neglect soundtracks in video games, mostly because they don't stand out unless you're focusing on the music. Metro: Last Light, however, has a beautiful OST with tracks that capture each situation that they are presented in. If you're sneaking by and something sees you, the music gets tense but remains beautiful. When you walk through Metro stations or anywhere that there is a radio, you hear pseudo-traditional russian music that makes the situation a little more haunting. And during large events, as always, the score is intense. I listen to a lot of video game music but I only purchase albums that really stand out. Metro: Last Light is one of those games.

Replayability is probably the game's weakest point, but that's not inherently a bad thing. There are multiple different endings and paths you can go down, but Metro: Last Light is a lengthy game and I didn't feel the need to go through it again. You can select chapters to replay, and I did two just for some trophies, but after that I felt satisfied. There is no multiplayer which is definitely a good thing because it would end up being a generic FPS and would lose focus on the incredible singleplayer. Maybe it's just me, but the way I see it is once the credits roll, you're done. There is a harder mode that you can play on, but it's paid DLC and that's just straight up bullshit.

Metro: Last Light is an interesting and compelling take on the nuclear apocolypse scenario that echoes Bioshock in it's haunting environment, expert storytelling, and solid gameplay. The graphics are nice and the environment is detailed, but the developers literally removed the hard mode and made it paid DLC, which doesn't look good. Overall, I'd give Metro: Last Light a 9.25/10 and I strongly recommend it to everyone, particularly Bioshock fans. Metro: Last Light is available for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.