Post-Apocalyptic Earth, bloodthirsty mutants, factions at war and one man's quest to save humanity… Sound familiar? In principle yes, but this is far from any game about the end of civilisation you've ever played. This is Metro: Last Light.
As with the original game that shared the same name, Metro: Last Light is based on the book Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, however the game tells a completely new story not found within any of Dmitry's books, though he did work with the developers on the game meaning this could easily be defined as a fresh take on his cult-classic series. Set in Russia and following up from the events of the last game, the story focuses on silent protagonist Artyom who is humanity's last hope.
Although there have been a few different stories of dystopian futures cropping up recently in media, most of which garnering great success (Fallout 3/New Vegas in videogames, films like Book of Eli) it is great to see a similar story putting its own spin on things - although the majority of the game is hyper realistic and full of great attention to detail, there are moments that are quite supernatural to say the least. The game's immersion is so great though that the suspension of disbelief does not interfere with the believable aspect. These sci-fi/fantasy elements mainly crop up toward the latter half of the game, which take the player by surprise but without changing the flow or realism. The imaginative storytelling and narrative you experience simply by playing is a sign not only of a great script, but great game design.
There is also a large sense of morality that features within the game. This level of thought-provoking does not come across as the typical 'right or wrong' situation most games throw at you - it's taken further than that and the player is left to explore the grey areas in a tale of a fight for survival.
|It was you who stole the cookie from the cookie jar!!|
Essentially, Last Light is a First Person Shooter. Beyond that, it’s an experience. The familiar mechanics of aiming and shooting are all here, but with a lot more thrown into the mix such as There are also some chapters in which you can choose to either get by stealthily or run through guns blazing. I chose to sneak through and I'm glad I did. I haven't personally felt a game handle stealth sections this well since Metal Gear Solid, which is saying something. Not only do you handle this in the familiar way of crouching around, knocking guards out and trying not to be spotted but there are also a number of more advanced ways that help you become the master of tactical espionage, for example turning lights off or breaking them so that you're less likely to be seen. Luring guards into rooms to knock them out as you carry out your business hasn't felt so clever in a very long time.
The shooting/action sections range from traversing the surface and being stalked by mutant predators which is creepier than any game I've played that claims to be scary, to fast paced shoot-outs with enemy humans. The variety in all of these gameplay sections are spaced out so well that you never know what to expect and the game never gets repetitive or predictable. You'll be shooting creatures on the grim surface, finding a way back underground to talk to civilians and stock up on guns, taken on a mine-cart ride down eerie tunnels and then sneaking around a bandit's lair saving kidnapped victims. This kind of variety is what keeps the game exciting and never lets sections get boring.
There is also a mode called 'Ranger Mode' which can be unlocked through the game's DLC which takes away any artificial element of the game such as HUD, crosshair and other distractions to the games realism to create the perfect example of escapism.
Immersion is the real key to Last Light's brilliance. With a press of a button you can bring up a compass if you need help finding where to go in one hand and a lighter in the clever shape of a bullet in the other. The lighter is helpful for a number of reasons, it can provide extra light in dark areas, burn objects that are in your way and in one of my favourite examples of going that little bit further to be different, used to help you take down armoured mutants that are vulnerable to light and heat while you blast them away with a gun in your other hand. There are also areas of the game that act as safe havens where you can talk to locals, do a bit of shopping for ammunition and weapons, and even visit strip clubs if that's what takes your fancy.
|Environments that are enveloped with great detail and atmosphere.|
There is an incredible and unmatched level of detail in Last Light. From the dilapidated buildings filled with relics of the past ready for you to explore to the underground cities built over sewer water, aptly named Venice, there is an extreme amount for you to see or do. I don't recall a single area that didn't challenge my perception and feed me with premier quality environments. From the mutants who inhabit the murky and desolate surface of the planet to more warm and laid back environments like the talent show one underground town puts on for its people, there is plenty on offer here visually. The characters actions and characteristics felt unique and believable from character to character, friends and foes were brimming with personality and some of the scripted scenes were incredibly original and imaginative.
The sound was another aspect that was pleasing to the senses. Detailed sound effects giving away vital information such as nearby enemy voices speaking in Russian accents not only helped point out their location as I sneaked about but also showed off the top quality voice acting talent. Hearing Artyom start to breathe heavily was a great indicator that it was time to replace the gas mask's filter before he suffocates, if you forget to check how much time you have left on his watch.
While many have tried and claimed to bring the ultimate otherworldly video game experience, Metro: Last Light is truly a game that has conquered these feats and more. An instant classic if there ever was one, Last Light is of a rare breed that has restored faith in a perfect combination of storytelling, atmosphere and varied gameplay, and will not fail to leave an unmistakeable impact on anyone who picks it up.
Story = 10/10
Gameplay = 10/10
Graphics/Sound = 10/10
Final We Know Gamers Score = 10/10
Had a chance to play the game? Have a different opinion to us? Let us know in the comments section below! Or tweet me - @LZR_ATK