Sunday, 17 August 2014

Metro: Last Light (2013) - Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Metro: Last Light is the sequel to Metro 2033; a post apocalyptic first person shooter set in Moscow's underground metro system. The first game followed closely the plot of Dmitry Glukhovsky's book of the same name but while that had a follow up Metro 2034 this game is not based on that but instead goes off on a tangent. Plot spoilers for the first game ahead.

Last Light follows the bad ending of the first game in which main character Artyom destroys the home of the mysterious creatures known as the Dark Ones via missile strike, learning too late that they were a benevolent race who only wanted peace. Set around a year later Artyom is now a member of the Order (a group of soldiers tasked with keeping peace in the metro). Learning that one of the Dark Ones avoided annihilation the Order task Artyom with heading to the ruins of their home and killing the survivor as he is the only one who has resistance to the Dark Ones mind control powers. Meanwhile the metro is heading into a state of war, the bunker D6 which was used to launch the missiles from (in Metro 2033) is wanted both by the Fourth Reich and the Red Line who are happy to go through the Order to take it.

Last Light is far more of an action based shooter than the horror and survival that it once was. The whole experience is more game based now with clear HUD elements to show your ammo and other items. This removed some of the immersion for me that was quite a shame as the first game felt like such a real, living place. The horror elements have been stripped back somewhat and while they are still there they take more of a back seat with the brewing war between different human factions really being the focus of the game.

A good chunk of the game involves stealth sections which unfortunately do not work very well. The stealth here feels like late 90's videogame stealth. A light on your wrist shows you if you are in darkness or not but it is very generous. Enemies patrol in limited A.I routines and all can be killed via a button prompt should you creep up on them. The soldiers you take out in these sections are extremely dense, you can literally crouch walk right up to one and kill them without them seeing you. These stealth sections are far too easy and there are far too many of them for it not to become an irritation.

The variation of the games world also is called into question. Like before things are split between the metro and the surface world. The metro has you walking around friendly stations where you can buy guns and ammo and listen to people talking. There are lots of conversations you can listen to but they seem a bit artificial in that they only start when you approach people making them seem less real and more like animatronics at a museum, Artyom has no way he can interact with these people he meets. The metro is a lot more bland this time around, a low point was sneaking through the Red Lines armoury, dull as dishwater to look at. Abandoned stations are usually full of giant spiders but again nothing special. There was a lot more variety in Metro 2033 I'm sure of it. Files are hidden around levels but rather than give depth to places just serve to provide Artyom's current thoughts, a missed opportunity.

The surface world really shines here. In the first game going to the surface felt really quite scary, having to rely on filters to enable your gas mask to continue functioning and monsters everywhere. The ice of that game has gone, now the world is full of rain and thunderstorms, it looks amazing and the rain hammering on your visor really restricts your view but again what made these levels feel so desperate are reduced with ammo and filters literally everywhere, I never once felt a sense of panic as supplies were in such abundance. Maybe over used but these are still a highlight of the game and the ones set in the darkness really did create some fear when creatures are attacking in force, though the pools of water seem to just be there to limit your exploration while top side.

There was always something new to do in Metro 2033 but here the set pieces are less, the levels more bland, there is just nothing to rival locations such as the library, or the crazy radio tower climb. The game does look good in places, of course the great over world, and the friendly stations have lots of detail put into them to make them seem like places people lived in but it is just not the same.  There is an optional Ranger mode that apparently brings Last Light more in line with its predecessor but this mode is locked away behind paid for DLC that is quite a shameful decision.

Metro: Last Light is a living example that more accessible doesn't make for a better game, the stripped back functions and more user friendly interface actually detract from the feeling of being in the world of post apocalyptic Russia. I had fun here for sure, the controls are less clunky and it looks a lot better but the magic I was expecting was diminished.


No comments: