Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world, she took the metro train goin' anywhere. Just a city boy, born and raised in south Pripyat, he took the metro train goin' anywhere. Blah, blah, blah, radioactive monsters and death.
By Tony Walter | May 22, 2013
About three years ago I bought a little known Ukrainian gem called Metro 2033. Well, it was unknown at the time. It quickly gained a cult following among the type of people who are willing to overlook technical problems, and sometimes weird localization, in favor of an interesting and unique experience. Metro 2033 had its share of problems, largely technical, but I enjoyed my time with it. And, my interest in the fiction was piqued.
By now, I'm sure any who are interested in the series, are aware that the games are actually based on a popular Russian series of novels by the same name. The author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, wrote the original story back in 2002, and self-published on his website - giving it away for all who were interested. Apparently, the right somebody took interest, because two games were made, and there are talks of a movie in the works. Unfortunately, at the time of first game's release, there wasn't yet an English translation of the novels. It's rare that a game sparks enough interest in me to spur an effort to seek out more of the fiction outside of the game itself. Heck, most games can't even convince me to read all of the 'journals' contained within the game itself. Metro: Last Light has reignited that interest.
The assumption would be that the narrative in Metro: Last Light is what is driving such an interest, but in reality, the narrative in the game is almost secondary to what's great about it. Sure, the characters feel real - well, as real as they can feel in post-apocalyptic, Russian subways. But they are only important in that they justify your journey through the experience. The true star of Metro: Last Light is one less definable. It's a feeling. A sum of its parts. Any one piece may not seem so impressive, but as a cohesive creation, it works.
It is important to note that Metro: Last Light varies from a lot of its post-apocalyptic brethren (See: STALKER, Fallout, Rage) in one key way. That is, it is not an open-world game, but rather a linear experience. In this case, we define a linear game as one that has established chapters and a singular path. There is an undue stigma that comes with a statement like that. Some might assume that categorizing Last Light as a linear experience is a criticism, when in reality I think a lot of what makes the game great is rooted in this.
|The human settlements throughout Last Light provide a bleak|
look into what life in Metro has become.
|These things will give you the heebie-jeebies for days.|
Also, radiation sickness.
|The silent protagonist archetype feels out of place in Last Light.|
Especially each time you just return a question with a blank stare.
Much like Last Light's predecessor, technical problems burden this game in a way that makes it feel as though it is actively fighting my enjoyment of it. The opening cinematic hitching halfway through before picking back up and finishing wasn't the best of first impressions, and ended up only being an omen of what to expect from the rest of the game. During one mission that emphasized the importance of stealth tactics, whenever I attempted to use a sneak attack to take out an enemy, the game would stop. Not a total freeze, but rather stall halfway through the animation. The player character and the enemy would stand there, locked, and completely invincible. This happened with any enemy during this mission, and, after a restart, ended up forcing me to either sneak past all the enemies or open fire, which is not recommended in Ranger Mode. A later mission was plagued with an even more problematic bug. This was during the tail end of a lengthy combat segment. I was left low on supplies as I approached an enemy encampment. Under normal circumstances, I would stealthily deal with the enemies and loot the camp. However, whenever I tried to pick up supplies in this area, the game would hard lock, requiring a total system reset. Luckily, autosaves are very frequent, so you'll rarely lose more than five minutes of progress, but the crashes still rip you from the experience. Metro: Last Light is a good game - great even - but that doesn't mean I'd like to replay each section four consecutive times. Then again, it probably says something that I did.
|The combat is much improved over Metro 2033.|
And, thankfully, Last Light doesn't lean on it too much.
Metro: Last Light is one of those rare games that strikes such an interest with me, that I seek out more than what is in the box. I don't think any game has had me making an early morning trip to Barnes & Noble just to acquire peripheral narrative, though that trip was ultimately fruitless, I have since ordered a copy of Metro 2033 (the novel) from Amazon. It is saddening that Last Light suffers from technical problems, but usually a few lock-ups are enough to turn me away from a game for good. I still have every intention of finishing, I just might have to wait until that's an easier task.