Friday, May 31, 2013

Review - Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light is a continuation of the sleeper hit Metro 2033, a video game based off the somewhat popular novel by the same name. In 2013 there was a huge nuclear war, leaving Moscow deadly irradiated and its surviving inhabitants seeking shelter in the Metro under the city. 

20 years later we meet our hero, Artyom, a stoic and silent protagonist, with a rather questionable mental health. However his hallucinations and recap between chapters helps establish some characterization, although he's neither a blank slate for players to interpret nor a fully fleshed out character, somehow it works thanks to excellent writing and directing.

Story wise, this game is basically an explanation as to why the alternate ending of the first one was better, seriously. The story of this game is like a painter painting a mural using 200 smaller really, really pretty pictures, then stepping back and going "...Shit...", discovering that the whole is a story already told.

The story of the original ends in two different ways; (spoilers from Metro 2033, skip down a paragraph to avoid)  the 'normal' ending sees Artyom launching a barrage of missiles to wipe out all dark ones. The alternate ending however shows Artyom realizing that the dark ones are only trying to peacefully make contact via hallucinations. (Spoilers end)

So the entirety of the campaign in broad strokes and relevant to Artyom is all about "you got the wrong ending, this is what you should have gotten instead and why". Everything else happening around him seems unimportant to the protagonist and his recaps shows the soldier in him following orders, yet ultimately seems uninterested and pushed asides as politics not important to him compared to the main theme of the story.

The story works and you never feel burdened by too much at once, something i often say is that you can have a great story with bad pacing and it completely buries it, but you can have a mediocre story with perfect pacing making a fantastic experience, and every small part, or segment of the story in this are perfectly paced and enjoyable.

Pavel, friend or foe?
The voice acting in this is awkward, for some reason it seems absolutely everyone in the metro has a Russian accent, "but this is happening in Russia" you might say and you would be right. What is curious is that, people named Khan, and Hunter or a whole group of Germans also has a Russian accent, trying to simulate a German accent... It's pretty bad.

It can be reminiscent of other games like Heavy Rain. The acting itself has some standouts, like comrade Pavel, whomever voiced him should give themselves a pat on the back. the nuances and emotions really come out in that character, his fear, cockiness, overconfidence, indecision, a superbly directed and performed character.

The stealth mechanics come back proudly from the previous game with a fresh haircut, looking better than ever. And although the A.I. is vastly improved from the last game, shooting out a light and picking a high dark corner allows you to clear entire rooms in your own time while they run around like headless chickens. 

The shooting and guns in the game feel appropriate to the story and setting, with a nice weight to them, but in the end the currency itself steals the show. Buying anything from vendors require military grade bullets,  but these also offer a substantial tactical advantage on some harder parts where you can use them as ammo instead.

The sound and atmosphere are what really makes Metro Last Light stand out, the setting and colorful design, varied locations and somber soundtrack. It sucks you right into itself and you can easily find yourself losing hours, just wanting to see what comes next before turning the game off, but there's always something coming next.

Game score: 3.5/5
The game is thoroughly enjoyable and engaging, improving on many things from its predecessor. some weak voice acting and some standing out in a great way and a story that ultimately just sums up why the ending forced on us from the previous game was 'the wrong one' even if you got the alternate.

Party like it's 2033

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