As much as gamers love their franchises, I really do think that we want to see the little guy succeed from time to time. Yes we will always play our big names, our Grand Theft Auto, our Halo, our BioShock, and so forth. But when a game like Metro: Last Light and its predecessor Metro 2033 is made by relatively small time gaming developers 4A Games, based out of Ukraine, I do like to think that the gaming community kind of cuts these developers some slack when it comes to certain aspects of game design and mechanics. Metro: Last Lights is one of those games that you try your damndest to see past its flaws to the ambition behind the game and the fact that there really is a good game there and in many aspects there is a good game, but sadly those flaws cannot be ignored.
Some might be quick to call bullshit on me and claim that I am about to come down hard on what was by all accounts a very fun and ambitious game put out by a new and growing studio. But please do not get me wrong, I did enjoy this game and saw the hard work that the company put forth to bring the Metro series to life. But I do not waver in my criticism. No matter the ambition or the game, if there are major flaws to the game then they need to be addressed so that a company like 4A Games can learn and grow into a better company. I just hope my readers keep that in mind while reading this review that I by no means hate this game, but I do have concerns with it that I feel need to be addressed.
Metro: Last Light is about the continual story of Artyom, a soldier who was born after the nuclear war of 2013 and found a new home in the Moscow Metro System since the surface is uninhabitable. Those who were unlucky and did not make it to the Metro systems mutated due to the radiation over the past twenty years and became known as ‘The Dark Ones’. The game takes place after the events of Metro 2033 where Artyom nuked the Dark Ones. Artyom’s group, the Rangers discover that a single Dark One survived the blast and are immediately at odds with whether or not this Dark One is the key to humanity’s future or if the Dark One should just be killed on the spot. Artyom is sent to find this Dark One where it is discovered that the last Dark One is only a child. The story then follows Artyom as he is taken to Nazi Germany, later return to Russia, find the Dark One Child, and attempts to save the people living in the Metro system from different Russian faction.
The story is phenomenal and it is one that really shows just how hard these people worked to create the game. The idea of the Dark Ones, the primary antagonists in the first game becoming a more benevolent force is a very good concept and one that I believe the developers executed very well and I absolutely love the fact that the characters in the game do act like normal people. They act with apprehension at the mere mention of the Dark Ones but not stark raving terror at the simple thought of one still existing. Some believe that they could be the key to humanity’s future but other rightfully remember them for being murderous monsters.
In the early parts of the game Anna makes a fantastic comment saying that while the adults know how to operate the Metro system, their children will think it mere magic and the children after them will see them as gods. While yes, any body with half a brain would train their children how to use machinery that is vital to their life while living underground, I do like the social commentary and the self-awareness that Anna and I’m sure others share regarding how the future will go for the next generations. The characters in this game feel like real people and act like real people. It is enough to keep me invested in the plot and understand more about the world.
While I do admit that I find the idea of Nazis coming back a bit cliche, the story in my opinion propels this game into the high regard that it is receiving.
Enemies are Creative and Terrifying
It has been a VERY long time that I have been legit afraid of a villain, aside from Amnesia: Dark Descent. These animals that mutated into ‘Dark Ones’ are positively terrifying. There are moments when traversing dark and closed quarters that I honestly got a feeling of claustrophobia but absolute dread of what could be around the corner. They do rely on a few jump scares, but the design of the creatures themselves makes them a very terrifying menace.
Voice Acting can Get a Little… Bad?
Oh the problems of games being created in overseas markets coming to the USA… I will say this, voice acting has come along way since the 90’s when they turned decent games and Anime into laughing riots with just how bad some of them got, but luckily that seems to be a thing of the past as real quality voice actors have been brought in for just about every project. The voice acting in Metro: Last Light is not terrible, but it could have been a lot better if they just hired Russian actors who could speak English. You can tell in many cases that these actors are trying so hard to put on Russian Accents that there are times where they almost sound like a parody to a Russian Accent.
Artyom Doesn’t Talk
This I found to just be strange. The way the game is presented and the way that characters act around Artyom just does not mesh with the whole silent protagonist idea. He seems to be a set character with an established back story. Usually when you see a ‘silent protagonist’ it is in an RPG setting where the player is supposed to envision their own likeness into the game or it is a game that is very light on dialogue and character motivation. But this game does not feel like either. I feel it would have added to the game to have Artyom talk and to see him interact with other characters in the universe.
Graphics Could be Better
Even though the game does look really good and does a good job in setting the tone and the overall atmosphere, there are certain graphics that are either poorly done or just so glitched that it does take you out of the setting. Both fog and breath come across as VERY pixelated and blocky unless you have your controls on the highest graphics setting possible… And even then it can get bad.
Though this can be chalked up to the fact that 4A Games are still independent developers and whenever you are still in your early stages you typically have to sacrifice certain areas to make your overall game better and in truth the graphics do look decent on the whole, but when they go bad, it is very noticeable and will take you out of the experience.
I want to like this game, I really do. It has a charm to it that cannot be denied and it is obvious that the developers were putting their heart and soul into making a very fun and engaging game with a very good story.
However the voice acting is pretty sub par, there are some pretty nasty glitches, and graphics can be really bad in spots.
I feel like if video games could take the shape of a grade school classroom then Metro: Last Light would get the gold star for effort. It did the best it could do and you will enjoy yourself playing it, but just know what you are getting into before you pick it up.
Final Score 2.5/5
Thank you for reading, as always if you enjoyed this review please like and subscribe for more and you can always follow me on twitter @TannerReviews. Please return tomorrow to read my review on Sarah Polley’s Award Winning Documentary Stories We Tell.