Metro: Last Light Impressions

“Oppressive” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of my time with Metro: Last Light so far. More than “fun,” more than “gorgeous,” and certainly more than “pacing,” at least in the positive sense. Metro: Last Light is by no means a bad game, but it is flawed and depending on how invested you are willing to become in the narrative and the world, that will dictate how much you enjoy your time with it.

On a pure gameplay level, I enjoy Metro: Last Light. It controls well, the UI is easy to use and the mechanics makes sense. It doesn’t truly innovate the way we look at shooters, but it does handle menus better than most games that are as gadget heavy as this, though there are some curious omissions that seem obvious. Pressing the left bumper brings up a UI menu, which details the different items you can use. The left side of the screen shows items mapped to your d-pad. This includes your lighter, the charger for your flashlight, etc. The right side of your screen is mapped to your face buttons. Your flashlight, gas mask, filters for your gas mask and night vision goggles. It works well and while this menu is up time slows down making it manageable but doesn’t take you out of the environment like menus often do. Sure, it’s not an innovation, but it is streamlined. However, outside of the menu up on the D-pad is the lighter, down is health, but left and right are not used at all. Why couldn’t the battery and the weapon pump be mapped to those buttons thus eliminating the left side of the UI when bringing up the menu and making it that much easier?

See these guys? They're dead. Shot 'em both in the head. Yet here they are standing up. Gotta love video games.
See these guys? They’re dead. Shot ’em both in the head. Yet here they are standing up. Gotta love video games.

Playing on the Xbox 360, the graphics and environments in the game look good, but like I had stated, the interiors are all dark and cavernous, don’t offer much in the way of variety, and are depressingly brown. I understand that it plays into the world 4A wishes to create, but it makes the game feel like it drags since most of the environments all look and feel the same. There is some variety, be it the underground settlements and such, but your time there in terms of the narrative are brief, unless you wish to look into every nook and cranny. For me the best and most exciting environments are seen when you strap on your gas mask and step outside of the Metro. The nuclear devastation of Moscow is at once gorgeous and frightening.

While the game does look good, there are a few nagging issues I’ve experienced. First, the game is surprisingly buggy.  The game has an emphasis on stealth; The player is able to interact with lights either by shooting them out, blowing out candles or by turning off the breaker for that area. Awesome, right? Well it would be if the AI wasn’t inconsistent if not non-existent. At times I literally dropped bodies from walkways onto patrolling soldiers only to have them do nothing. They just kept walking without even acknowledging the dead comrade that just fell in front of them. Other times they would spot me from across the room, in the dark. Without good, consistent AI that reacts to you, the stealth isn’t nearly as engaging, suspenseful or satisfying as it could be.

The outdoor environments are absolutely gorgeous but so far, few and far between.
The outdoor environments are absolutely gorgeous but so far, few and far between.

Pacing has also been an issue. After all the big action sequences, I almost always was forced into a “walk through the environment as slowly as possible” chapter. Instead of acting as a reprieve from the action, it feels intrusive and since there is no one to interact with beyond a bullet shop or a gun shop, it’s kind of a slog.

It also doesn’t help that so far I don’t care much about what’s going in the story nor with any of the characters. Midway there is a dream/fantasy in which Artyom, the game’s protagonist, beds Anna whom has had exactly one scene with you earlier. There is no connection here so it just feels gratuitous and forced rather than earned.

So far my time with Metro: Last Light has been a mixed bag of satisfying shooting, frustrating AI and pacing, and a lack of any really deep or meaningful relationships. With any hope, this will improve in the second half of the game, though much like the oppressive world of Metro: Last Light, chances seem pretty bleak.

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0 thoughts on “Metro: Last Light Impressions

  1. Would you say this game suffers from a relative Call of Duty-fication syndrome? Perhaps the team at 4A felt pressured to bend the narrative and execution of Metro to attract the frat-bro crowd a bit more than it should have.

    I’ve wondered how necessary the segments of completely nude women are to the overall experience of the game. I didn’t know about the dream sequence you mentioned either… It brings up some serious questions about whether or not the video game industry is ready to embrace more touchy sexual scenarios and deliver them in respectable, artistic ways. From what I’vee heard about this game, I doubt 4A might be ready for that kind of jump.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Joseph!

      Honestly, the two games couldn’t be less similar. Call of Duty rarely, if ever has quiet moments that build the world. The moment to to moment gunplay of Metro doesn’t evoke the kinetic pace of CoD either. I would say the only similarities are that they’re both FPS.

      I always find sexual situations in video games to be rather silly. I didn’t see any completely nude women in the game. Not at all like in The Witcher 2. There were, however, a lot of topless women in Metro.

      I don’t really think nudity adds anything of value to video games.

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      1. I guess I made a pretty strong generalization there! I just remember seeing some screens from a shower scene up on /r/gaming. Oohhh It must have been somebody using noclip or something. But it’s this scene:

        I didn’t realize that in the actual game you couldn’t get into that shower section, but those models are fully detailed!

        I’m all for sex being integrated into art, but it still has to be treated with a certain level of respect to be executed correctly.

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      2. That may be in there, but I didn’t see it. LOL. Like I said, animated nudity seems silly to me. It’s not the least bit titillating so it just seems gratuitous and silly to be included in video games.

        By the way, my review will be up shortly!

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