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Metro: Last Light refuses to let you go (review)

Metro: Last Light 3

What You Won’t Like

Getting pulled out of the experience

4A Games created such an engrossing world that it’s difficult to overlook the few cracks beneath the façade. For instance, human enemies aren’t very smart. They’ll often run right past you in the shadows, even if they just spotted you only moments earlier during your attack. If they know you’re nearby, they’ll all perform the same animation loop of constantly popping in and out of cover, craning their necks to look for you. They appeared less like people and more like programmed robots.

This makes the difficulty (at least on the normal setting) a bit inconsistent as well. While fighting on the surface is harrowing since you have to scavenge for gas mask filters to get more air, facing enemies underground is rather easy. Except for the last fight, I never ran out of medical kits. I had a steady supply of ammo from looting my fallen foes. And I didn’t need to worry about money: I wasn’t swimming in prewar bullets, but I wasn’t struggling to find them.

Other little things became annoying over time, like soldiers clipping through walls or floating in the air after I’d killed them. But nothing tore me out of the game more than when I saw the many advertisements for Glukhovsky’s Metro books. The first few times the title does this are fine, but then you start seeing the ads in all the stations you visit. Last Light already does a good job of advertising the Metro universe on its own, so breaking the fourth wall just to remind the player that a new book is coming only harms the experience.

Predictable story

As strong as the writing is for the background conversations, the main story is confusing, and, at the end, predictable. Perhaps it was because I didn’t finish Metro 2033, but I couldn’t remember the names of the major factions and important characters. I was always asking myself  “Who’s that again,” or “Why did he/she do that?” Some crucial plot elements (like character motivations) reside only in Artyom’s personal diaries, but you have to look for the documents in each mission. These pages help a lot in terms of understanding the Metro, but hiding important story details within them is frustrating, especially if you don’t find them all.

Unfortunately, Metro: Last Light is also the victim of the Chosen One plot device where fate decides that the protagonist is the one and only savior of the world — one of the characters even says this aloud. Can we just ban this cliché from video games, please?

Metro: Last Light 4

Conclusion

Despite Metro: Last Light’s fairly conclusive ending, I felt like my work wasn’t done. I kept wondering about the other stations and the people living there. What are their stories and how can I help them? How did the mutants evolve so quickly? And what’s going on with all those ghosts? Technical issues might have marred my experience, but Glukhovsky and 4A Games built such a captivating world, and I didn’t want to leave. I might just have to read those books after all.

Score: 83/100

Metro: Last Light releases May 14, 2013 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The publisher provided GamesBeat with the PC version for the purpose of this review.

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