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Metro: Last Light is the most fun you'll have in post-apocalyptic Russia

Alex Rubens | May 14, 2013
Following in the footsteps of 2010's Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light improves upon the gameplay of its predecessor without destroying what made the series great in the first place: the setting. Last Light takes you back to the post-apocalyptic Russian wasteland, employing an excellent soundtrack and bleak, desolate imagery to deliver a first-person shooter with surprising pathos and one of the most genuine game narratives in recent memory.

Your limited inventory also forces you to make some meaningful tactical decisions: mod a semi-automatic pistol to be fully automatic and pair it with extended clips, for example, and you can use your new pistol to replace the submachine gun in your inventory. That in turn allows you to drop (or sell) the SMG, using the newly-opened space in your three-slot inventory for a long-range tool like the rifle. It's a seemingly small decision that could mean the difference between living and dying when you're exploring the wasteland on your own.

Metro's score is one of the best in the business and continues to establish not only the singular tone for any particular moment within the game, but a consistent and omnipresent theme throughout the entire narrative experience. Pair this with the spot-on sound effects--terrifying gunfire, wet gurgling screams, the frantic cries of communication between both enemies and the occasional comrade--and you'll a sense of aural immersion to rival that of any great blockbuster war flick. The sound design remains exceptional throughout the game, though there's a bit of weirdness with characters occasionally acting out of sync with their audio.

Unfortunately, for as strong as Metro: Last Light is, it suffers from a myriad of bugs and issues that can often disrupt the atmosphere it works so hard to evoke. Crashes to the desktop and random minimization happen all too frequently, destroying any sense of pacing that you might have.

Occasional hard locks and freezes join the list of serious technical problems, but by far the most frustrating bug I came across was the seemingly random times that the player would become immobile and unresponsive, regardless of whether I was using the keyboard or the gamepad. It usually happens when both the protagonist and an enemy--especially the mutated creatures--make a melee attack at the same time, causing Artyom to become unresponsive, almost as if stunned.

Bugs aside, Metro: Last Light still isn't for everyone. It suffers from a lack of direction that often left me backtracking and searching the same areas multiple times before figuring out what to do or where to go. Some may find this lack of guidance charming, but it feels like even the most simple of navigational suggestions are absent and the experience suffers for it.

But the main challenge of Metro: Last Light isn't just poor directions--the game is hard. The two difficulty settings, Normal and Ranger (a special, harder difficulty setting that was made available as DLC to players who pre-ordered the game) are a perfect balance of what you want in a game like Metro. I can't speak to Ranger mode, but Normal is just hard enough that it forces you to slow down and think tactically in situations where, in other first-person shooters, you'd normally just run through guns blazing. That kind of recklessness will get you killed immediately in Last Light.

 

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