23 December 2013

Metro: Last light

This is the sequel to the game Metro 2033, which was a pretty good and very atmospheric first person shooter released a while back. The previous installment, never really rivaled STALKER but made a good companion game set in a post apocalyptic eastern European setting with all the cultural grittiness that comes with it. Following a "Fallout'esque" nuclear war the remnant of the Moscow population lives underground in the old Metro tunnel system. Each station has become something of a tiny city state of its own, and you will find communists, nazis, bandits and regular people fighting for survival in these enclaves - fighting each other and the monsters spawned by the nuclear fallout.

Just like the previous game, Metro Last Light takes place predominantly down in the tunnels  - and while it has been some time since I last played Metro 2033 I felt that the immersion was much greater in this game. Flickering lights, navigating the darkness using  your own poor flashlight and very few light sources in general make the journey through the Metro tunnels pretty amazing eye candy while at the same time providing ample amounts of claustrophobia as there is always very little room to maneuver in combat situations.

The stealth features have been improved nicely with throwing knives, silent takedowns (lethal and none lethal) as well as a wide array of weapon upgrades to play around with - including silencers and IR- scopes. I only wish that it was easier to know how much more lethal various weapons were while comparing them in the various shops that you find. Playing the game using stealth over "guns blazing" combat situations is a lot more satisfying and prolongs the play through time somewhat. Dimming lights and  taking out guards one by one also preserves your ammunition for the many combat situations against the monsters dwelling in the tunnels against which you cannot use stealth.

As far as the story is concerned it is fairly OK, it picks up where the first game ended, and the main character is once again taken on a long journey through the Metro and above ground through the ruins of Moscow. And while being a extraordinarily linear game in an age where most games attempt to be open for exploration Metro Last Light manages to provide you with some fantastic locations and many memorable situations. Areas above ground, especially towards the end game are stunning and the overall feel of the Metro tunnels compared to the previous game is that they are less frustrating to maneuver while providing good level design and attention to detail.

It is a very short game however, playing it on normal, using a lot of stealth and attempting every bit of the limited exploration opportunities the game clocks in at around 10-12 hours. It is also a very chopped up experience, with small levels constantly interrupted by tiny snippets of story as the next location loads. One can only imagine how awesome it would be to have a open ended world to explore - being able to walk through the metro and the ruins of Moscow without any particular restriction like in Fallout 3/New Vegas.

The game can be picked up fairly cheap nowadays and its definitely worth the reduced pricetag for the environments alone. Short length, only 2 endings and not much point in replaying it does lower the score and pretty much.  I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the original game, but it is still no STALKER.

A word of warning about the system requirements, the game requires a lot of juice and really needs a mid-high end computer to be playable. It was unplayable on my old PC (4gb ram, 1gb graphics card and 3.2ghz dual core, but played very smoothly with the highest setting on my brand new gaming computer (8gb ram, 2gb graphics card and 3ghz six core).

- had it been twice as long and more open the score would have been higher.

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