Metro Last Light was developed by 4A Games. A studio based in the Ukraine and for those of you that don’t know it’s not exactly the most welcoming of places to develop games.
Just after last light’s release former THQ president Jason Rubin came out and exposed the conditions the developers were forced to work in.
Some of those conditions include freezing temperatures so cold people had to wear gloves to code the game, Regular power outages that forced the team to go out and get their own generators to keep working in the final days of development and an office so small it could be considered a cubical. I’m telling you this now so that when you dive into Metro: Last Light you can truly comprehend the shear amount of work and love that the studio put into the game.
Metro: Last Light is set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow where the world has been ravaged by nuclear war. The few people that still remain live in the metro tunnels below the the old world. The metro is a dark, dreary setting full of places to explore, mutated creatures and people you may better off avoiding if at all possible.
The metro’s tunnels are dark, wet and crumbling in some areas. A lot of your time in the metro you will be using your flashlight to see since very little natural light makes its way into the tunnels. Your flashlight can be your best friend or worst enemy in the tunnels. Deciding when to use your flashlight can be tricky.
You want to be able to see in the dark while your scavenging for ammo and health kits but the everlasting feeling that there’s something lurking in the shadows that might see your light can be terrifying if you aren’t prepared. I played with my Sony Pulse headset in a completely black room and there were more then a few times I found myself jumping because of something sneaking up behind me or a well timed howl signaling an imminent attack.
Outside the metro is a completely different world few are willing to travel through. Above ground all that remains are crumbling buildings, dilapidated old cars, human skeletons, mutated monsters and lots of radiation. Just going to the surface requires you to put on a gas mask who’s filter needs to be changed every 5 minutes.
You can look at your watch to see how much longer you have before having to change your filter. Finding filters isn’t that hard and by the end of my play through I had about 15 or 20 extra minutes of filters left and that’s with searching quite a bit in the big open outside areas.
While you have your mask on, rain, condensation, and blood will start to build up on the gas mask, blurring your vision and making it hard to see the enemies around you. To get your sight back you need to wipe off your mask. This is a cool feature that I’m a big fan of. It really ups the realism and tension when your running for your life and you cant see through the blood and rain water.
In Metro: Last Light you play as Artyom who working for the Rangers–one of the few factions fighting for control of the metro. It’s now been 1 year after since Artyom launched a deadly missile strike on the dark ones. The dark ones are misunderstood aliens with immense power which of course scares those living in the Metro. Upon hearing of a surviving dark one, Artyom is tasked with catching and killing the sole survivor of their race–a child. While trying to catch the dark one Artyom is captured by a rival faction who is vying for control of the metro. From here you go on a crazy adventure through the metro and the land above to complete your mission.
While the overall story in Metro Last Light is good it kinda drags after the first few hours. It seems like your always playing catch up. You need to get here to get the dark one but once you get there you need to be somewhere else because the dark one has been moved. This goes on for most of the game and can be rather tedious. I found myself only able to play for a few hours at a time because I didn’t really care about what might happen next in the story I just wanted to get to my destination. Plenty of crazy things happen but they never seem to take you away from your main mission.
The gameplay in Last Light more then makes up for its kinda slow story. Traveling through dark tunnels with monsters lurking in every shadow creates a sense of unease that never really leaves you. Deciding to sneak up and kill silently is effective and by far the best idea to help conserve your resources. You can look at your watch to see if your visible. If you are there will be a little blue light lite up. Sneaking isn’t always easy though. The metro has enough power to keep some lights on meaning if you want to sneak your going to need to learn to turn those lights out quick unless your going up against the freakishly large spiders who aren’t very fond of light.
While in the tunnels you’re going to need to do a lot of scavenging to keep your ammo full. Since you rarely go into towns where you can purchase ammo conservation is key. Military grade ammo however should never be used in your guns. This is the currency of the metro and it’s how you will be buying all your ammo and upgrades for your guns. With the right upgrades a handgun can be turned into a powerful SMG. Personally I stayed with a handgun, assault rifle and shotgun for most of the game and that shotgun saved my life more times than I can count and it also let me sell all the other ammo types I found for some extra military grade ammo.
Aside from the guns you also get a few secondary weapons like pipe bombs , Molotov cocktails, knives and homemade claymores. The knives can take down just about anything in one hit as long as they don’t see it coming and are also useful for taking out lights in rooms with enemies. Apparently the bulbs in the metro are accustomed to blowing out so this doesn’t raise much suspicion. You also get a lighter which comes in handy for burning down those pesky cobwebs that slow you down.
Graphically Metro: Last Light looks great most of the time. Creeping through dark passages with your flashlight lighting the way looks amazing. Light shines off water and flames on torches dance naturally. Blasts from your guns cause flashes of light that reveal even more creatures lurking in your peripherals preparing to pounce on you. Puddles of water shimmer in the little light there is and stepping in them creates small ripples and a splash your enemies can hear. In the city’s though people don’t look quite as good.
You never really feel like your seeing the same person twice but for the most part there’s very little detail in anyone you don’t talk to. This is minor and something I only noticed a few times mainly because there’s very few cities to actually see.
Metro: Last Light has top notch audio. Walking through certain areas causes Artyom to see and hear glimpses of the terrible things that happened where ever he is. One spot that stuck out to me is on a crashed plane. You can hear people screaming as their plane comes flying out of the sky into the ground killing everyone on board, it’s chilling.
Moving through the tunnels can be terrifying because of the constant howls and scampering of the mutated creatures that now live there. Shotguns have a loud bang and kick while silenced gun’s have a PEW PEW sound to them. Even the pressurized guns sound like your emptying a C02 cartridge. Walking through the city and listening to all the conversations about whats happening in the metro is fun and after a while I found myself starting to talk in a Russian accent in my head.
Overall Metro: Last Light is a great game that combines first person shooters, survival horror and the post apocalypse perfectly. Knowing what 4A Games went through to make the game only makes it all that much more amazing when you actually play it.