Metro: Last Light is the follow-up to the first entry in the franchise, Metro 2033 by 4A Games, which dumps you in the shoes Artyom; a ranger who seems to end up in all sorts of awful predicaments. That isn’t to say there isn’t something for old and new fans alike in this entry, as Last Light goes pretty far to help answer questions raised in its predecessor. In particular, it achieves this by adding in elements that represent flashback material to help players understand just what happened and what is going on in the present.
Artyom is flung in at the deep end when he is sent on a fairly simple recovery mission to do with the "Dark Ones," who are beings with immense power but a lot of confusion revolves around them as to their actual purpose in the world. So, just when you think everything is going to work out as planned it all goes haywire, something Last Light likes to do a fair amount of but with great execution. After an initial attempt at the mission things just keep getting worse for our hero, and after being captured and stripped of all the weapons, you break free and make the journey through the Metro and barren wastelands of Russia to uncover the truth of the "Dark Ones." During his journey, Artyom falls upon a massive ploy that has the enemy plotting to overthrow and rule the Metro, something that can be found in today’s society. Fortunately, the pacing of the story never really falters, everything seems to flow exactly as it should to keep the player’s attention — Artyom just can’t seem to cut a break, the poor fellow.
Last Light surpasses its predecessor in the visual department, and with this being the first of the franchise to hit the PlayStation 3 the graphics are suitably impressive. When you first venture outside you see the huge view of the battered and wasted city that once stood tall, while lush grass foliage has grown over most of the area because nature has been allowed to run wild. And running is something you will do quite a lot with the vast variety of creatures you will encounter in Last Light. The environments below the surface in the Metro are a completely different story, however, with dark and rusty colours dominating these subterranean sections, while light plays an integral role in the game’s mechanics. As such, Last Light really does make you feel like you’ve been sucked into an incredible, engrossing living breathing world that you can explore. Every character you walk past is having a conversation that could have something to do with the story or completely different but it really adds to the power of making the game world feel real and natural.
One of the main strengths of the game can be found in the fundamental mechanics, which while subtle, make you feel more like you are playing as a unique hero rather than just playing another character in another game. Some guns can be pressurized to inflict extra damage which you have to first pump up, resulting in one-hit kills if executed right. When venturing outside or into a hazard zone, your mask you have on will have to be wiped clean from blood splatter, mud and when it becomes cracked form gun fights or having a tussle with a creature you’ll have to replace it before the one you currently have breaks and you suffocate. This coupled with mixing in horror and survival elements creates such a great world to jump into and keeps you hooked. Lastly it has to be mentioned the little interludes you get between loading screens, Artyom is giving some narration that provides back-story and his next moves as you progress through the story. This makes you feel like the loading screens weren’t there at all and keeps you constantly immersed within the game world.
Metro Last Light relies on its lighting quite heftily allowing for a more stealth-oriented experience, as you can take out bulbs and lanterns from afar or get close to turn them off, with the resulting darkness rendering you invisible to enemies. But this isn’t to say you can’t resort to gunning them all down rather than stabbing or knocking them out silently, both of which the game manages to pull off in such a great co-existing manner.
You might be sitting there thinking "but what about the controls as it was mainly a PC title before?" Well, those worries can be laid to rest, as Last Light manages to take all the complexity of the controls and fit them round the PS3 controller. I’ve never experienced a game that makes activating different pieces of equipment so fast and user-friendly. A quick snip of the shoulder button and you have one menu to snap on your mask or turn your torch on, while pressing triangle and you quickly change which grenade or knife you’re using. This was all made easy and completely flawless by the intuitive user interface 4A Games have managed to put into the PS3 version.
Everything about the audio in Last Light really accentuates the game’s already nail-biting atmosphere, whether it be hearing the screeches of creatures in the distance and treading carefully to make sure you don’t get mauled, or the bustling metro stations that feel vibrant and alive — even if they are vastly run down. Overall, the game’s aural presentation has been crafted to provide a unique experience that really complements the gameplay.
Metro Last Light manages to create a rich and engaging world that holds onto the players attention with a vice grip. Giving players an excellent thrill ride to enjoy and step into the shoes of Artyom who must seek out answers to the Dark Ones and thwart the enemies plans all while taking on the menacing mutations on the surface. Prepare to enter the Metro for one hell of a ride.