Wot I Think: Metro: Last Light

By Jim Rossignol on May 20th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


4A’s sequel to their widely-enjoyed post-apocalyptic shooter Metro 203 appeared last week, and I’ve been waving my Geiger counter of critical analysis over its glowing innards. Will Metro: Last Light be remembered as a worthy sequel, or as a the point where 4A’s filter finally failed? Here’s wot I think.

Metro: Last Light’s plot continues on from the explodey climax of 2033. It is, of course, once again based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s bleak future world, where Moscow’s denizens have retreated below the surface of the city, fearing the radiation and seemingly supernatural creatures that plague the surface. Slightly psychic protagonist Artyom is rapidly embroiled in new mysteries, and new horrors. The game wastes no time in pitting you against nightmarish creatures and nightmare fascist metro-dwellers. The humans are, of course, as dangerous as the toothy mutants.

Metro: Last Light’s game mechanics are the same linear-shooter systems as the original game, relying heavily on guidance from an NPC companion. This time, however, Artyom is a much more powerful combatant, with both base firepower and stealth proving to be formidable tools. The balance has been changed quite significantly, and I think people who found the original game a chore will be well-pleased with this. Those who found the previous game just right, however, might think differently.


Last Light’s production is something that will no doubt come under much scrutiny. I have seen a couple of minor scripting bugs, but nothing significant. Slightly worse, perhaps, is the way in which the game largely hangs on NPC chums doing their thing. You can’t run ahead, and must wait for them to catch up to the triggers and events.

That said, the NPCs are beautifully conceived and – about half the time – superbly acted. I’ve been genuinely surprised by the quality of this stuff, and to find myself moved and amused by a rambling faux-Russian sidekick was a surprise.

There was another surprise, too, which was in the sheer thrill of last Light’s visual spectacle. Stupidly, I keep imagining that the MAN IN TUNNEL genre of shooter will run out of ways to impress me, but that didn’t happen with Last Light. It’s exquisite, and even though the post-apocalyptic theme has been done to death over the past decade, it’s delivered with such skill here that I ended up finding the game more visually arresting than Bioshock Infinite. That’s not something that I expected to say, but it’s most definitely the reality.


The highlights of this experience are the trips the surface, where we must don gas-masks to pick through the ruins of Moscow. These scenes are astonishing to look at – impeccably destroyed, faultlessly atmospheric, exquisitely detailed, and filled with threat.

That’s not to say the tunnels were any less well-rendered. Picking your way through thick spider-webs (which can be burned away with your lighter) is magnificently creepy, and the basic idea of the game – that you inhabit the Moscow metro with unnatural beasts and ruthless men – never fails to deliver some moment of shadowy horror.

Perhaps the finest fragments of this – although largely non-interactive – are the sequences in which you get to see the life of the metro-dwellers. You walk through their underground world, as in the original, only this time the detail is drenching us, and you get to see far more of their unpleasant and claustrophobic home.


This isn’t always passive wandering through non-hostile environments, either. There’s an astonishingly tense moment in the Nazi base, which suddenly collapses into a breakneck escape. It’s one of the most compelling action sequences I’ve ever seen in a game, and remarkably simple.

All this stuff is standard for FPS games, of course, and I when reviewing such things I am more likely to be saying stuff about prettiness than not. Metro, though, really understands its own palette, and it also backs up its overall graphical splendor with numerous loving details. Being able to wipe moisture from your gas-mask visor is so trivial, so superficial, but it absolutely speaks to 4A’s focus on atmosphere. And I love it.

There are some problems with Last Light, of course, and they come from a number of sources.

PROBLEM ONE: For a game of this visual fidelity to arrive on PC without a full suite of graphics options on release is a genuine shame. You will need to manually adjust some settings in its config files to give yourself a wider FOV (which I should imagine a large number of you will want to do) and the game has to be patched to work correctly on AMD cards. That should work automatically on Steam, of course, but it seems that such things took a back seat, which is surprise when the content of the game is so formidable.

PROBLEM TWO: The “Ranger Mode” which throws in greater difficulty and removes the HUD is a day one DLC. For a difficulty level to be touted like this is pretty insulting, and I am genuinely surprised anyone thought this would be a good way to win gamer favour. It’s the worst kind of poorly conceived cash-in.


OPTIONAL PROBLEM THREE: The combat balance of Last Light is so very different to the original Metro that it is going to alienate fans. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that because I think both games are entertaining it quite different ways, and there was a lot of unecessary bullet-sponge stuff going on in the original. What Last Light keeps and improves upon is the atmosphere and world, but the combat here is lighter, easier, and faster. Stealth is enormously effective, and generally you never feel too threatened by any of the bads you encounter. Except maybe those light-sensitive spider things, but only because they are so icky.

In fact, thinking about it, I am not sure I died more than a couple of times through the whole game. This may or may not be a problem, depending on what sort of player you are. I genuinely enjoyed Last Light, and was fine with the gunplay being enormously balanced in the player’s flavour. I wanted to just blast through it, so that was fine. But if you wanted the same kind of challenge as Metro without having to pay for additional DLC, well then you will be disappointed.

What is a problem is the rubbishness of the big rat-dog mutant. That’s really poor. Oh and the boss thing. Yeah, not great. Actually gunplay fails are a fair few points, and once again human opponents are the best. So often true of games.

PROBLEM FOUR: There’s a pretty strong failure of taste at a couple of points in the game. Yeah, it’s booby ladies again. Haha, they get naked in the shower! Yeah. It’s a shame, because early on the tough sniper lady handles that stuff with humour.


NOT A PROBLEM, REALLY: There will no doubt be some folks who will be reticent about another corridor shooter. This game isn’t for those folks, because the only thing that will really satisfying them is another STALKER. That’s not to say we don’t deserve another single player game with the breadth and freedom of the GSC classic, it’s just that Last Light manages to play the post-apocalyptic card within the corridor-shooter genre, and make fine work of it.

In conclusion I can only recommend that you pick up Last Light and play when you can afford to. Perhaps don’t rush to the digital game shop, but add it to the list. It’s a linear shooter that kept me engrossed, and even genuinely thrilled at times. Placed next to Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite it seems like an equal, even outmatching those ultra-budget big names in some regards. It lacks their extreme precision and QA-smoothed balance, but nevertheless provides meat. It’s very much its own game, and I can only give it credit for its competence in playing with ideas that every shooter tries, and many fail to execute with any originality.

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147 Comments »

  1. vexytube says:

    I’d say the biggest problem with Metro Last Light is the ending…

    • Sardonic says:

      In much the same was as 2033 there is more than one ending.

      • vexytube says:

        I don’t mean the good/bad endings. I mean everything leading up to that felt very rushed and then boom – Game over. I felt there were questions asked without answers/gameplay for those events.

      • DigitalSignalX says:

        In that same vein, my biggest issue was that it *ignored* the ending of the first game and doesn’t present the player with an alternate origin path if you chose not to commit genocide previously. Why bother with branching a plot if the sequel is going to wipe the players choices under the rug.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      It’s fuckin shocking and I LOVED 2033, looks great, plays in an abhorrent fashion!

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      In that same vein, my biggest issue was that it *ignored* the ending of the first game and doesn’t present the player with an alternate origin path if you chose not to commit genocide previously. Why bother with branching a path if the sequel is going to wipe the players choice under the rug.

  2. AP Erebus says:

    It’s worth noting the (kinda) reasoning for the Ranger DLC.

    Basically, the Ranger DLC was a decision THQ made before Deep Silver picked it up. I’ve heard Patrick Klepek (Giant Bomb) mention multiple times that this was because boxed retail wanted some kind of pre-order DLC or they wouldn’t stock the game.

    Still stupid that they chose the Ranger DLC, but it’s not a decision that Deep Silver could do anything about (as there was already existing pre-orders before they acquired the publishing rights.

    That aside, it’s a fantastic game. Best FPS I’ve played all year.

    • Geger says:

      playing the game on “ranger” is not difficult but rather annoying. hardest setting completely removes UI,though you can still hear clicking sounds when you navigate the inventory, and you can not count how many bullets or other equipment you have left.
      in one chapter i had to start a car(on rails), but since there was no UI to hint me which button to press i had to watch walkthrough on Youtube.

      P.S HINT: press “space” to start the car!

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      If you have ranger mode, I do recommend playing with it on. Having no crosshairs, and not having any HUD elements pop up is great.

      But it’s worth noting that at the moment, ranger mode is a little bit broken in its approach to UI.

      Normally, holding tab lets you check your inventory: how much ammunition of each type you have, how many minutes of filters, toggle between normal rounds and military grade (MGR), and select your secondary weapon (throwing knives, grenades, incendiary grenades, or claymores).

      (Let’s ignore for the moment the slightly crappy controls for inventory: having to hold down tab for a half-second before the screen appears, and then having to move the mouse in the direction of the secondary weapon you want to select.)

      In Ranger Normal, this screen shows you MGRS, filters, and secondary weapons, but not how much ammunition of any other type you have. You never know how much ammunition you have for any weapon apart from what’s loaded in it right now. So do I keep using my shotgun? Or am I about to run out of rounds, so should switch to the bastard gun? Who knows?

      That’s bad enough, but in Ranger Hardcore, this inventory screen does not appear at all. You cannot see which secondary weapon you have equipped. You cannot see which secondary weapon you are selecting. You cannot see how much filter time you have (beyond the one filter on your mask right now, which your watch shows).

      Oh, and other UI prompts, like to press E in one of the still-too-common QTE sequences don’t appear in Ranger Hardcore either, and the game doesn’t give any diegetic feedback to compensate for it.

      So while I recommend Ranger Mode if you have it, be aware of these problems when you make that choice.

      Edit: Ninja’d! Also, I forgot to mention that in Ranger Normal at least, you can see all your ammo counts when you are at a trading station, but not otherwise.

      • darkChozo says:

        It’s also worth mentioning that Ranger mode also removes all the tutorials from the game. This is a problem because there’s a lot of stuff that’s undocumented otherwise; many of the controls have multiple functions but the keybind menu only lists the primary function (for example, G is listed as “put on gas mask” or something like that, when it’s also used to wipe stuff off your mask). My friend went through the entire game not knowing that there was a non-lethal melee attack, considering that the game never tells you and it’s a key you’d never think of trying on enemies (the use key, specifically).

        • HadToLogin says:

          Next time listen to developer saying “hardest difficulty is for people who KNOW game”. But since you guys decided you know better, there’s punishment. :P

          • Geger says:

            if i remember correctly, ranger difficulty was promoted as: “the way this game is meant to be played!”

          • darkChozo says:

            Whatever the devs said, it’s still bad design. If I can choose Ranger mode for my first playthrough, then Ranger mode should be fully playable without having to use a third-party resource. Either enforce that it’s second playthrough-only (maybe with a cheat code to access it early, explicitly so people who reinstall can access it), or offer some sort of alternate way to learn game mechanics (ie. a manual).

          • Nethlem says:

            So people are supposed to memorize the button prompts for QTE’s during their first play trough?
            Broken is broken and won’t get compensated by playing it more often. Overall it sounds like they didn’t do a proper QA testing for ranger difficulty.

        • Arcanon says:

          Maybe it’s just me, but I fared just fine without any tutorials…..I read the keybinding page and that was all I needed to know to shoot faces and cut throats.

          • darkChozo says:

            A couple hours in, the only control I haven’t been able to find out on my own is E-to-punch-people in the face. Everything else I was able to figure out based on having played 2033. Still, given that there’s a reasonable chance that a new player might go in blind to Ranger mode (especially considering that they have to pay for it), there’s a bunch of unacceptable design choices. I’m guessing that most new players wouldn’t know about the light charger or how to pump a pneumatic gun without prompting.

      • Arcanon says:

        I played my first run on Ranger Normal and loved it.

        How is the UI broken? It’s the whole point of Ranger Mode, removing the hud to immerse you better into the game. Not knowing how much ammo I had actually improved my experience: running out of mags during a boss fight unexpectedly, “click-click”, was an awesome OH FUCK ME moment!! And while using the preumatic Hesinger, I actually had to watch out many arrows were sticking out of the gun! I never even thought of doing that in a videogame before!

        Ranger Normal is perfectly fine for a first time IMO, Hardcore…probably not. The QTE thing would be a problem for a first timer.

        • darkChozo says:

          Probably the only actually-broken thing in the Ranger Normal UI is not being able to see how much ammo you have in total. It’s a reasonable thing to take out (after all, knowing exactly how much ammo you have on the spot is rather unrealistic), but the problem is that they don’t offer an alternative. You can’t count your ammo while in a safe spot, you can’t guess at your reserves based on the weight in your jacket; ammo basically exists in a black box that Artyom refuses to look into (well, at least until he gets into a town).

    • Convolvulus says:

      I don’t buy the attempt to blame this on THQ’s ghost. Deep Silver could have swapped Ranger Mode for something else. I’m sure all companies reserve the right to alter promotions, and this one wasn’t even theirs in the first place. They could have set a reasonable price for it. Five dollars for a difficulty mode is beyond ridiculous, especially when any price at all would be pushing it. They could have made it a timed exclusive, but, as their spokesperson told PC Gamer, the company has a policy of rejecting sensible ideas whenever possible.

      Imagine all the good will that might have been won if Deep Silver had made an effort to do the right thing here. Instead they’ve put a leaden boot on all of their future sales and given 4A Games a black eye. I cancelled my pre-order when I saw they weren’t reversing THQ’s dumb move, and now I’m not even sure if I’ll bother at all. Maybe I’ll think about it when it hits Ranger Mode prices.

      • Bhazor says:

        It should be pointed out “difficulty as DLC” was apparently 4A’s decision not THQ’s.

        Now for a game with an emphasis on crafting/customising weapons it would have been easy to add in a couple preorder exclusive mods.

        4A and Deepsilver are equally to blame and both their explanations are pitiful.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          The preorder bonus does includes a unique weapon and 200 military-grade bullets along with ranger mode.

        • Brun says:

          It’s worth noting that the original statements from 4A stated (or at least implied) that retailers wanted exclusive gameplay as DLC, so I’m not sure that a couple of exclusive weapons would have been enough to satisfy them.

          • HadToLogin says:

            I guess with THQ as publisher, retailers could demand more, since THQ was desperate for money. I really don’t remember that many games that offer difficulty as pre-order DLC (only one I can recall right now that was as bad as this was ME3 Javik DLC).

          • Brun says:

            Well that, and their rationale behind picking Ranger mode to be DLC was that they considered the most die-hard fans – that is, the ones that are most likely to be playing on Ranger mode – to be the ones most likely to pre-order the game anyway. I guess what they failed to understand is that those die-hard fans were also the ones most likely to get upset about Day-1 DLC.

      • SirKicksalot says:

        People were preordering it two months before Deep Silver got the game.
        How would you deal with two months worth of clients whose decision was in part influenced by the Ranger bonus?

        The Ranger DLC is also included for free in all first run copies. You can still find similar editions of games like Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm. Given its abysmal UK chart performance, Last Light will join them in the nearest bargain bin.

  3. Luringen says:

    Already beaten it, good experience and great atmosphere, but it’s not without it’s problems. Overall I think it’s good.

  4. Continuity says:

    It looks pretty.

    Is it as on-rails as the first? The first wasn’t bad but it was heavily scripted.

    • Luringen says:

      It’s still linear, but there are sections where you can explore a bit and scavenge for equipment in side-tunnels for a while. Nothing big, but it’s pretty satisfying.

  5. Matchstick says:

    On the cost issue it’s already available (in Steam key form) for £22 so I suspect people waiting for it drop low enough might not have too long to wait.

  6. Iskariot says:

    A very good, balanced review, I think. It made me put Last Light back on the ‘To Buy’ list.

  7. Herodotus484 says:

    Erik Kain on forbes also had a article about the Ranger DLC which was apparently sourced originally from a interview with Koch Media by PCGamer’s Tom Senior. Apparently boxed retail demands pre-order DLC or they won’t stock the game.

    ““Game makers and publishers now live in a world where offering game content as a pre-order exclusive is a requirement by retail, and Ranger Mode seemed like the best choice since it was a mode for hardcore fans who would most likely pre-order the game, or purchase it at launch in any case,” he says. “We rejected requests to make story content or additional missions exclusive. We also rejected requests to make this a timed exclusive.””

  8. Low Life says:

    I’ve been playing the game for a few hours (and enjoying it), but I find their silent-but-not-really approach strange. Why give Artyom a voice in the loading screens but then have him play mute during the gameplay (unless he actually is mute?)? Silent protagonists don’t really work for me if the protagonist still has strong opinions which he expresses outside gameplay.

    He also had silly opinions on the lovely sniper lady.

    • glix says:

      hey, maybe he’s just shy. and i haven’t played LL yet so i can’t say if it’s featured there too, but in 2033 artyom did speak outside of the loading screens, just not very much. there’s a bit where you’re about to get crushed by a cart and he says “fuck” right before the screen goes black. it’s a small thing but i thought it was indicative to him just not wanting to talk to people much rather than just Video Game Silent Protagonist Syndrome.

  9. golem09 says:

    The first game was the first and only game I played in 3D, and it was gorgeous.
    For this game I’ll wait until I can play it with the Oculus, since the vistas seem to be a major feature again.

  10. F3ck says:

    One of only a handful of the on-rails (from A to B to C) ilk that don’t bother me at all…atmosphere and superbly executed “cinematic” moments redeem a multitude of sins in my book.

    My perverse obsession with the STALKER franchise and its abundant freedoms does not preclude me from enjoying the shit out of the Metro series.

    Actually glad to hear the bullets finally have some effect…felt like I was fending off Nosalis with fucking silly-string last go around.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Yeah, no. It still feels like that. Mutants still move weightlessly, only sometimes react when getting hit, run right up to your toes and often clip through you. It’s all a bit shambolic still.

  11. Bhazor says:

    I only played a couple hours on a console toy but I found it much closer to Elder Geek’s take.
    Broken AI, complete lack of suspense and hilariously OP stealth to the point you can you stealth kill people looking straight at you in the middle of a brightly lit room

    I also have to question why people are giving this a free ride for things those same people crucify COD for. From what I played it was about 50% semi interactive cutscene of doing exactly what the AI told me to do or face instadeath. Walk precisely here, stand still while you wait for the cutsce- I mean monsters to walk past, wait for the dozy fucker to open the door, drum fingers as you wait to regain the power of walking, pull up a seat while you wait for the AI character to rescue you, listen to yet another conversation straight out of the charred book of post nuclear cliches. Seriously, I saw more dilapidated teddy bears in there than a fuckin’ fire damaged Build-a-bear.

    The web burning looked ridiculous as well.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      But, the naked ladies in the shower!

    • Ultra Superior says:

      ..

    • CrispinFister says:

      I think people are giving it a free ride because they probably played the original while drunk or stoned (or both). The first game was a horribly optimised generic-post-apocalyptic-bandwagon-jumper that was very cheesy and predictable. It was too cringe-worthy for me but it did look pretty good, if you like grey stuff and puddles.

      • Mman says:

        “generic-post-apocalyptic-bandwagon-jumper ”

        Yes, when Metro 2033 came out the Russian post-apocalyptic first person genre sure was over saturated by games like STALKER and

        • Bhazor says:

          and Cryostasis and Fallout and a couple hundred Russian books and films about post apoclyptic settings set in subways.

          Here’s a meta game. When in the eavesdropping sections, listen to the first line of each character. Then pause, write down what the next line will be and where the conversation will go. I played that and was bang on about 75% of the time. If you’ve seen any post apocalyptic setting then you’ve seen the Metro 2033 setting. I was convinced some of it had to be parodies like all the Teddy’s everywhere not to mention the Apocalypse diaries. But no such luck.

          It’s certainly no Land of Ooo.

          • Mman says:

            “and Cryostasis and Fallout and a couple hundred Russian books and films about post apoclyptic settings set in subways.”

            Cryostasis isn’t a post-apocalyptic game at all. Outside of a few dark vignettes the Fallout series is about as far from Metro and STALKER in tone as something about nuclear disaster can be, and you know that Metro and STALKER are intentionally based on those books and films (never mind the absurdity of cross-medium comparisons in the first place)?

            You’re REALLY stretching to make Metro look bad in this regard, and doing that to support a blatant troll doesn’t help your arguments at all.

          • Bhazor says:

            So it’s original and based on a couple hundred books and films and comics?

            When a game is trying so hard to be a movie why can’t I compare it to movies?

          • Mman says:

            “So it’s original and based on a couple hundred books and films and comics?”

            I don’t recall saying anything about Metro being original when compared to the entire spectrum of human artistic achievement.

            It’s certainly relatively fresh for an FPS though.

          • Bhazor says:

            Apart from S.t.a.l.k.e.r, Cryostasis* and Fallout.

            *complete with psychic flashbacks and exposure mechanic.

          • Mman says:

            So, in the entirety of the FPS genre, there are only six (counting sequels) games remotely similar? I guess we agree then. Never mind that Metro and Fallout have nothing in common beyond a post-apocalyptic setting and guns.

          • Bhazor says:

            6 games that came out in the 18 months before its release.

            And again my point is: Are you saying it isn’t a setting filled with every post apocalypse cliche in the book?

          • Mman says:

            “And again my point is: Are you saying it isn’t a setting filled with every post apocalypse cliche in the book?”

            You never actually made that a major point before though? Also no (I AM saying it’s a pretty fresh setting for a game though), because it’s the execution that matters to me, and I find Metro better than everything except STALKER in that regard. You might disagree, but your moving of the goalposts to try and make me wrong doesn’t change that.

            Edit: Looking back at your mention of Cryostasis. Psychic flashbacks… really? In that case I guess Cryostasis is derivative garbage because FEAR came out a few years before and, like, half of RPG’s ever made exist? Not to mention that Cryostasis’ “exposure” mechanic is very different to Metro’s.

          • ComfortFit says:

            Fallout and this are next to nothing alike. The fact that you compare them at all is astonishing really. You are either grasping at straws for the sake of generating an arguement or you really are a silly person. Here are all the reasons why this is a fact.

            Settings;

            Fallout: Wasteland, heavy influence from source material like Mad Max. Deserts, biker helmets, greasy chain gangs and tribes roaming the deserts surviving in loose factions with no set civilisation. A sort of macbre parody of the 50s American Atomic Era. Strictly a science fiction setting, with retro-sci-fi stylings.

            Metro: Ruined cities, underground societies. A very serious, dark, gritty take on a world fallen apart. Civilization still exists, people still exist together, but there are wars between opposing ideologies. Pseudo-sci-fi setting with a mix of spirituality. Common themes of “God is dead or has abandoned us.” And the unexplainable effects of the radiation, in the form of anomalies, are often spiritual in nature. Clearly A Ukranian/Russian take on the apocolypse setting, influenced by events like Cherno Nuclear Power Plant and literature like a roadside picnic.

            Gameplay;

            Fallout: A heavy RPG. Even the newer ones. Even Fallout 3 and NV have diceroll mechanics in the shooting (you can hit a target in first person and still miss due to dice rolls), even ignoring their VATS additions and earlier iterations.

            Metro: Pure FPS, with stealthy bits tacked in. Also a much heavier focus on scavenging ingame. No roleplaying. At all. And no, playing the role of Artyom does not make this a roleplaying game. There is a difference.

            There is next to nothing similar about these games. From gameplay onto the setting, onto the themes, onto the writing and characters, etcetera. Stop saying there is, you are factually wrong. Maybe in your twisted reality the fact that they have nukes in them makes you think otherwise? I don’t know, there has to be some reason for your craziness.

          • blackmyron says:

            Fallout and Metro are both computer games, and both post-apocalyptic – and that’s about as far as it goes.

            And not Land of Ooo? I’m guessing you haven’t watched “Simon and Marcy”.

    • Vandelay says:

      I can’t comment on the new game, but I recently returned to the first, remembering that I did not reach the end. There is just no comparison between this and CoD. You might (sometimes) be lead from point to point, but the moments when you reach a combat area, will often allow you to fight the way you want to, particularly when fighting human foes. There are also many more nooks and crannies to look through, where you will find stashes or bits of story. It also has atmosphere in spades, whereas CoD just has angry men.

      Personally, I have never had an issue with linear shooters, CoD just does it badly. Metro takes the far better Half Life approach.

      • Mman says:

        Outside of a higher proportion of “FOLLOW” moments (and even then I’m not sure it’s that much more, as they are spread out more compared to the first Metro that dumps a prolonged unavoidable following section on you near the end), Last Light’s approach is pretty much the same.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Last Light is such a good game, and the developers seem earnest and very talented. There is no reason for them to have put so many quick time and “follow” events in the game. They are jarring and give the whole thing a cheap console feel.

        I can’t wait for the first developer who makes an FPS game and markets it with “NO QTEs!”

        When the game is played during the development process, is there really nobody around the studio who says, “The QTEs really suck. Can’t we take them out?” Half-Life 2 and the Episodes proved they were not necessary.

        • FuzzyPuffin says:

          That developer would be CDProject Red. They’ve stated that they realize the QTEs in The Witcher 2 sucked, and they will not be coming back in 3.

    • blackmyron says:

      Because often times an interesting setting and story can cause you to overlook gameplay issues, and CoD has neither an interesting setting or story?

  12. b0rsuk says:

    Corridor shooters are SO dead!

  13. Shadowcat says:

    Ah yes, Metro 203; the Vic 20′s best shooter by far.

    • Archipelagos says:

      Eye-roll to infinity.

    • Bhazor says:

      Picture 1: Extreme waxing

      Still it’s interesting that the crippling background radiation has resulted in such round firm mutations. I would expect like tumours or cancer or an extra eye. But by the looks of it, it just gave every woman a boob job.

      I have to say they’re looking good for people on a starvation diet. Its also nice tanning booths and exfoliants appear to have survived the apocalypse. It’s good to know the body shop will withstand the nuclear holocaust.

      • quijote3000 says:

        Haven’t you seen terminator 4? There are women things that survive even the nuclear holocaust and the invasion of machines

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Not that you can see the bathing women without using a noclip or other cheats, except through a frosted glass wall. But it’s icky that the game lets you perv on people bathing at all.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Dishonored let you look through a keyhole at a bathing woman.

        I’d imagine there’s been plenty of instances in games where you watched people bathing. Hell, I can remember twice you see men showering in Hitman Blood Money.

    • darkChozo says:

      To be fair, if we’re talking gender equality, fully-textured penis beat fully-textured vagina to the punch by at least a couple of years. (side-note: no, I don’t think this is actually terribly relevant to the conversation)

  14. hemmingjay says:

    Regardless of the legitimacy of the reasons, I will not buy anymore games that have day 1 or week 1 DLC, especially difficulty modes. I’m certain my lonely stand will go unnoticed by the studios and publishers, but I will have just a tiny bit more self respect.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      especially difficulty modes

      Really? Surely an extreme difficulty mode is the least offensive DLC you could have? It’s not even really ‘content’, and unless you find the game too easy even on the hardest standard difficulty then you won’t even miss it.

      It sounds like the equivalent of Bioshock Infinite’s ’1999 mode’ and according to Steam’s achievement stats less than 2% of players have completed that.

      • Thurgret says:

        Ranger mode isn’t necessarily harder, however. It’s certainly quite a different way to play. And it’s likely to be more accommodating to certain playstyles than “bullet sponge” easy mode is, too, since on easy, as well as Artyom soaking up bullet after bullet, enemies take more hits to kill, too.

      • Vorphalack says:

        ”Really? Surely an extreme difficulty mode is the least offensive DLC you could have?”

        I consider it one of the worst things to cut, especially considering how easy modern games are becoming. There are gamers out there who don’t want to simply coast through a game, brain disengaged, marveling at the pretty graphics. Personally, if i’m not getting some sort of challenge from a game, I wont buy it. Cutting difficulty settings is not a precedent that I am willing to endorse, regardless of how good the rest of the game is.

      • jonahcutter says:

        I’d consider a difficulty mode as about as core a game element as can be. I definitely see them locking out core game elements as something to not support. I’ll be waiting for a sale, that includes that core element, down the road. Otherwise I would of definitely bought this day one, after the first wave of reviews came through.

        The concept of “day-one” DLC is a scam. No matter the tortured rationalizations used when criticized for it. I’ll wait for a sale. There’s plenty of games to play in the meantime.

  15. Casimir's Blake says:

    I found Crysis 3 to be visually impressive, with decent shooting, but ultimately cliche and predictable as an experience. Bioshock Infinite left me feeling that it was a reluctant shooter more obsessed with its world and ill-conceived plot. Of those facets, only the visuals left me impressed.

    Metro: Last Light is the kind of awkward, slightly disjointed brilliance that I’ve come to expect from the “Stalker Camp”, shall we say. I broadly agree with all the issues Jim lists, but they did not prevent M:LL from being one of the most satisfying FPSs I’ve had the pleasure to play.

    I went through it once only in Ranger mode with Russian voice and English subtitles and though I tend to criticise linearity, here it is not an issue: Set piece after set piece both explosive and “quietly powerful”, exquisite stretches of malignant overworld, and some good fights and stealth sections add up to a satisfying experience. Oh and this is one of the few games where a two-weapon limit feels appropriate and not a cop-out.

    The only occasion I found frustrating was waiting for the “boat-man”. By this point it was made painfully apparent that the dog mutants can reach frustratingly far with their attacks, and many times I was slashed to bits during a weapon reload. This was the only section of the game where it was a problem, though.

    • Thurgret says:

      I had to turn the difficulty down to easy in that waiting for the boatman section. Although in retrospect, I may have been better off turning it up from normal to hardcore or ranger, due to the funny way that enemies are easier to kill at higher difficulties, and I think that nosalises usually die in one shot from a shotgun — and it wasn’t the shooting them before they got a hit in that was difficult, but what to do in the intervals that I had to reload, which was when I was taking hits.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        The boatman was pretty horrible. I got through it after a few attempts by realising I could load my AK with MGR and do more damage. I had over 500 by that point anyway; it’s not as if I needed to hoard it for spending.

  16. HardDominator says:

    I’m still in the middle of playing this game and I must say I absolutely enjoy every moment of it. However there are a few annoyances that I wanted to add as a first time player of the metro games.

    1. The gas mask: To me it was very unclear when to wear the gas mask. Do I wear it when fumes come out of the ground in the tunnels or just out in the open? When the top of the tunnel is open and light is coming out does that mean that I have to wear a mask? This made it rather confusing.
    2. Enemy AI. The enemies do not see your laser when you haven’t been spotted yet. Maybe in ranger mode but I haven’t tried that out yet. This just breaks the overall feeling of stealth you have. In my oppinion it should have some sort of consequence.

    • Thurgret says:

      Artyom usually starts wheezing if he’s having trouble breathing. You’ll always need it outside on the surface. Circumstances tend to make it clear enough if there’s something bad in the air in the tunnels.

      I found the laser thing silly too. My weapon of choice – shotgun for the mutants aside – was that .44 pistol, with a stock, silencer, foregrip and IR scope attached, and I later attached a laser sight too (after testing it on a Kalashnikov), and it was just silly that NPCs never noticed this thing being pointed at their faces. On the other hand, it would have been just as annoying if I’d been stuck with it, unable to turn it off.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      There are a few places with toxic gases underground where you have to wear the mask. Basically, if you are having difficulty breathing and your view is going blurry, you should probably put you mask on. If you’re unsure whether it’s safe to take it off, just try it. Within a few seconds you’ll be gasping for breath if it’s unsafe, and can put it back on.

  17. Dowr says:

    I was annoyed that Last Light retconned the ending I chose in 2033. With games now carrying over player choices from predecessor to successor (Mass Effect series is an obvious example) I just find Last Light’s disregard for player choices in the first game to be unacceptable.

    • Thurgret says:

      To be fair, one of the endings to 2033 would render Last Light in its current form completely redundant, and these guys aren’t CD Projekt.

      • Dowr says:

        That’s because CD Projekt doesn’t set themselves up for Retconning.

        Yes, adjusting Last Light to adhere to both endings of 2033 would have been out of the question for the small 4A Games studio, but then they shouldn’t have set themselves up to that situation in the first place.

        ‘Over-ambition’ it’s called.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Unacceptable? As in “I refuse to play the game” unacceptable? The phrase cutting off your nose to spite your face comes to mind. The books don’t follow the “Artyom didn’t bomb the dark ones” story line either. 4A would have had to have done a hell of a lot of extra work to follow both paths. Heck, it would probably have to be an entirely separate game.

      • Dowr says:

        As I said, if the developers were not willing to follow up on both endings, then they shouldn’t have had two endings to begin with.

    • Surlywombat says:

      Calm down, if this does well they will have enough money to do Metro: First Heavy.

  18. Totally heterosexual says:

    I can enjoy a a linear mass homicide simulator as long as it is actually good. This seems like that kind of a game.

    …but the DLC thing really but me off and I think im just going to get this very late when it hardly costs money. :/

  19. Ernesto25 says:

    saying a game is better than crysis 3doesn’t really sell it to me. probably wouldn’t be one that would please me but i am surprised more wasn’t made of the day 1 dlc which is literally what “dlc quest” was warning against.

  20. Kein says:

    >There’s a pretty strong failure of taste at a couple of points in the game. Yeah, it’s booby ladies again. Haha, they get naked in the shower!

    Apparently, Catherine’s problem is that game exist at all. So is all erotic games. They dare exist. And creators dare to have freedom of their expression. Holyshit they dare to put a shower scene in the game, what a bunch of tasteless jerks, right?

  21. SirKicksalot says:

    “Strong failure of taste”?
    More like default “NUDITY IN A GAME” reviewer response.
    Did you apply any critical thought to those sections or did the alarm bells instantly ring off?

    For the first time in years I read a Gamespot review and their approach to this particular subject is, well, miles better and more thoughtful:

    They move about with purpose, speaking at length to each other about war and family, about love and lust. Men gone stir crazy seek the company of prostitutes, and so might you, should you desire a lengthy lap dance. Nudity occurs multiple times, and though it’s certainly explicit, it doesn’t seem superfluous or exploitative. Rather, Last Light’s erotic themes emerge naturally from the despair, and sex in the underground has an air of desperation and urgency. If you prefer tamer pleasures, you may take in a lengthy and detailed variety show, where can-can dancers and an accordion act bring some joy to the melancholy populace. This is life in the metro.

    • Bhazor says:

      And Duke Nukem is a subtle and ingenious parody on the banality of existence.

      Nope. That’s just Gamespot making excuses.

      • SirKicksalot says:

        Great argument, Captain Strawman.
        Please explain why sex shouldn’t be portrayed in such an environment. For a well-rounded argument you can take into account the lack of intimacy of the metro dwellings, as opposed to say Mad Max.

        • Bhazor says:

          … because it isn’t?

          It’s attempts at sexuality and romance is more embarrassing than Bioware’s.

          • SirKicksalot says:

            I’ve got nothing better to do than argue about this.

            How is the communal shower scene more embarrassing than whatever Bioware makes?
            You simplay pass through this area. A couple of ladies are bathing and you can barely see them through the glass. You can eavesdrop a conversation which, like every other, adds a bit to the lore. A dude is fixing a boiler nearby and completely ignores them.
            What is wrong with that scenario?

          • Thurgret says:

            Hell, I didn’t even notice a shower, and I was pretty thorough about looking round all the populated areas and eavesdropping on everyone’s conversations. Is it really that big a deal?

          • Bhazor says:

            You forgot your mandatory love interest already?

          • Thurgret says:

            Oh, hey. Her. Yeah, that was weird. Would have made more sense if I hadn’t had to discover on the wiki afterwards that they’d both spent a week in quarantine together. The game failed to convey how much time had really passed.

        • quijote3000 says:

          Careful there. Bhazor is famous around here for being obsessed about nudity, including HBO or anime :)

          Incidentally, I don’t usually follow gamespot, but their metro last light review is pretty good

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Anna’s character arc rather renders the point moot. 4A proved they knew how to write in a “strong” female character that is still believably vulnerable. Critics just like to show how pro-feminist they are, I suppose. *Edit: Not referring to the Gamespot review in this case.

  22. Sardonic says:

    A problem I didn’t see mentioned in the review:
    On the HUD-less difficulty you have to rely on audio cues to select secondary weapons, as you’ll be selecting from an invisible D-pad by holding down Tab and moving the mouse in a direction.

    On the same difficulty, on certain guns its hard to tell what kind of ammo you are loading into your gun. (If you see the bullets causing fires on enemies though, you are firing your good ammo.)

    All in all, I loved the game though, A+++ would spelunk through tunnels again.

    Also, this game has some amazingly graphiced moments, like the unveiling of that cloth covered vehicle.

    And I’m so happy they made stealth kills better.

  23. tumbleworld says:

    Y’know, cynical objectification of women by including naked, tanned, boob-jobbed Penthouse Pets with perfectly-rendered little-girl vaginas — in a post-apocalyptic hell-hole of collapsed society, nonetheless — solely to titillate adolescent boys (and grab some notoriety headlines) is fairly cheap and shoddy.

    But then again, so is cheerfully simulating oodles and oodles of bloody murder for exactly the same reason. And the same could be said of knocking out Yet Another Corridor Shooter.

    My point? Good question. The world is pretty damn cheap and shoddy, a lot of the time. Had a look at the changes in civil rights and liberties recently?

    I’m a big fan of not making people feel any worse about themselves than they already do, which is exactly what this kind of unrealistically over-perfect naked goddess fantasy content does to many, many female people. It’s appearance here doesn’t help. Does it make things significantly worse? Probably not.

    Nothing is going to change until corporations decide to take on some social responsibility at the cost of some profit margin — in other words, when Hell freezes over.

    Make of this what you will.

    • Screamer says:

      “I’m a big fan of not making people feel any worse about themselves than they already do, which is exactly what this kind of unrealistically over-perfect naked goddess fantasy content does to many, many female people.”

      You do know that most women aren’t as insecure as that?

    • JackShandy says:

      Hmm. I haven’t played the game, only seen the section on youtube, but including a brothel section with naked ladies doesn’t seem inherently sexist.It seems like you’re saying that the naked ladies are too attractive? And that’s unrealistic, and thus they did it to be erotic, and thus it is sexist?

      Making the prostitutes attractive doesn’t seem to stretch the boundaries of disbelief that far, unless every woman in the game is a supermodel.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Sadly let down I wanted a womens ‘bits’, with real Tressex hair, like Action Man only female. I feel like a reet dirty perv these days liking a nice hairy pubis, mmmmmmmm!

  24. jonahcutter says:

    Why is the nudity tasteless?

    • quijote3000 says:

      Some people are just prudes

      • Casimir's Blake says:

        Agreed. I watched through the theatre section and found the music more interesting than the “visuals”. I would have been more impressed if the theme was less “brothel” and more “burlesque”. 4A should have also added further variation to the dance animations and guitar picking.

  25. Jinnigan says:

    In addition to the Day 1 DLC being basically strongarmed out of them by retail suppliers, I want to note that manually putting ranger mode into the game is literally just going into a text file and changing “off” to “on:” http://i.imgur.com/PfA6lUJ.jpg

    And, honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s an intentional response to being forced to make something exclusive for the game.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Does changing that setting actually work? I ask for two reasons:

      1. I have the ranger mode DLC due to preordering, and that’s still “off” in my user.cfg
      2. Adding “g_god on” to the user.cfg gets removed when you run the game (Stupidly. Let me turn on god mode! I want to play through again with time to take pictures of your lovely environments!), so I’d not be surprised if that gets either reset or ignored.

  26. Lagwolf says:

    Here is my take on the game. I love this review but I think it is overly kind. The nudity isn’t one of its problems it is a mature game after all ( and its a strip club in a war zone). it does have quite a few and the lame $5 for a game mode is the worst of it. Wait until it gets discounted on Steam. It is no way worth the full price + $5 for the DLC.

  27. Haxavier says:

    Am I alone in thinking the whole Ranger Mode DLC issue is not really that big of a deal, considering what we actually got out of it?

    Alright, in principle I do not agree with it. Carving out content that should be in the final game and selling it for $5 post-launch reeks of publisher (or developer, as some claim) wanting to milk as much money out of the consumer as possible.

    On the other hand, to be honest, Last Light’s Ranger mode DLC is kind of crap. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say Ranger mode was never really good to begin with, even though I am a huge fan of the Metro series as well as grognard difficulty with these kind of games.

    Back in the days of yore Metro 2033 4a developed and released a FREE DLC pack to all existing users of the game, which was the Ranger DLC. You got two additional difficulty modes (Ranger Normal and Ranger Hardcore), and in each playthrough you got access to two cool weapons by midgame: a belt-fed automatic shotgun and a crude ball-bearing-railgun-thing. Ranger Normal was very similar to ordinary difficulty modes UI-wise, but with combat damage increased across the board for your weapons as well as enemies. Ranger Hardcore, as you’d expect, removed the HUD entirely. HOWEVER, in HC could check your entire inventory by pulling out your objectives clipboard. It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but having this requirement did slow down the gameplay enough to push the game towards a more deliberate experience.

    Now, there are a few things about Ranger Mode in both Metro 2033 and Last Light that are inherently broken. The first is the relatively small economy game that takes place throughout the course of both games. In the first game, being able to grab for free those two weapons could wreak havoc on the game economy, as you could easily gain ~250 free military grade rounds (MGR) in a single transaction right after you pick one of the two up, given that you trade it in for something junky like a double-barreled shotgun. In Last Light, you’re given an extra 100 rounds in the beginning; this doesn’t sound like much, but in the grand scheme of things it IS quite a lot, especially when damage using regular ammunition is already so high that there is almost no incentive to use MGR in combat, and the vanilla difficulty modes already do a decent job at rate at which you gain it.

    Speaking of damage, that is the second thing that is very wrong with Ranger Mode in both games. A flat increase in damage given and received does not make a difficulty mode; and even then, the damage aspect of difficulty is not implemented in a very consistent fashion. I’ve noticed that in BOTH games that mutant enemies still only deal out vanilla Hard Mode damage levels in Ranger Hardcore but die in one or two bullets out of a crummy 5.45 submachine gun. Just this fact alone diminishes half the game for me, as mutants are so easy to kill that they are no longer a threat; I was able to sit back in one sequence in Metro 2033 (when you first meet Khan) and watch an NPC kill 20+ mutants effortlessly without me needing to fire a shot. The moment I noticed this difficulty foible occur again in Last Light I stopped playing it. Sure, the increased damage you receive from guns and human enemies is through the roof, which does encourage stealth, but it’s still a very unelegant approach to difficulty when it completely diminishes the challenge of one aspect of the game (mutants) while removing another one (open combat) almost entirely. It’s an immersive first-peron shooter that, for much of it, allows you to pick when and how you want to fight; it’s definitely not trying to be a Thief game, despite its watch-lightgem mechanic.

    And then there’s the whole UI issues that other posters have talked about previously. For a lack of a better way to put it, in Ranger Hardcore the player assumes that he’s forgotten how to count or feel how full your pockets are, and you can only seem to check non-MGR ammunition balances (Ranger Normal only!) in sequences where he’s forced to not have a weapon out. It just isn’t thought out or developed well at all.

    tl;dr: Ranger mode has not been, and still isn’t, a well-though out or developed difficulty mode. In Last Light, it’s frankly a downgrade compared to vanilla Hard mode.

    • Thurgret says:

      As Jinnigan suggests above, it may be as simple as tweaking a .ini file slightly to get it working anyway.

      It is a bit silly that for particularly hard mutant sections (e.g. the nosalises attacking when you’re waiting for the boat) you’re better off playing in ranger mode. Playing on normal, mutants were the hardest part of the game for me.

  28. Monkeh says:

    I really thought I was totally bored with corridor shooters, but Metro: Last Light has proved me wrong.

  29. dufake says:

    Ranger mode isn’t about getting harder.
    It’s just a way to play the game.

    Here’s wot I think.
    Metro LL is a better game than Metro 2033.
    Crysis 3 isn’t memorable than Crysis 2.
    Bioshock Infinite isn’t a better game than Bioshock, System Shock 2 and Deus Ex.

    4A does a good job here.

  30. honky mcgee says:

    What I want is the first 15 minutes of Metro 2033 and an Oculus Rift. See, the truth of it is I’m just not really all that into murder. Sure I’ve tried it. Heck, I’ve murdered everything from space marines to koopa’s. Yep, when it comes to murder I do not discriminate on the basis of color, creed or religion. I’m what you might call an equal opportunity murderer. Still, at the end of the day, and after all the killing, I still feel empty inside. So in conclusion, I guess what I’m really looking for is the first 15 minutes of Metro 2033 and and an Oculus Rift.

  31. honky mcgee says:

    PROBLEM FOUR: There’s a pretty strong failure of taste at a couple of points in the game. Yeah, it’s booby ladies again. Haha, they get naked in the shower!

    For a game that strives for realism what else would you expect. Would you prefer for them to shower with their clothes on? How is this tasteless? Is the human anatomy offensive to you?

    Why games will NEVER transcend film as story telling mechanism. See above!

    When was the last time you walked out of a critically acclaimed ‘R’ rated film and gave it a thumbs down because of nudity. Take the film American Beauty for instance. Would you say it was tasteless because of the way Kevin Spacey’s character sexualized the young lady and her reaction to him can only be interpreted as weakness?

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Considering that pretty much all the construction in stations is wood, cloth, and scrap metal, and generally gives the people in the metro a little privacy—isn’t it just a little odd that in one station they scavenged enough glass for a wall, only to put the women’s showers and baths behind this glass wall?

      It’s pretty clear that that scene isn’t there for realism, it’s there for eye candy. That is why it’s tasteless.

    • Bhazor says:

      No I gave American Beauty a thumbs down for being a condescending pretentious mound of self satisfied drama school nonsense.

      With tits.

      Having tits in your game does not make it high art. It makes it a game with tits in it.

  32. eclipse mattaru says:

    Am I the only one wondering what the hell is “the boss thing”?

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      There are three fights against boss versions of mutants. They’re rubbish boss fights*. I doubt anyone who enjoyed Metro 2033 thought to themself, “Good game, but needs moar boss fights”.

      I figure “the boss thing” is Jim referring to the pointless addition of these bosses and how rubbish they are.

      *Except that the third one has an interesting alternative way to complete it that fits the game’s themes quite nicely.

      • eclipse mattaru says:

        I see.

        I suppose that the RPS policy, being the highbrow British website for privileged intellects it is, is to leave half the information out of the review, and it’s up to the reader to figure what the missing pieces are, and then put it all together on our own for maximum informationability. Classy. I feel smarter already.
        ┌─┐
        ┴─┴
        ಠ_ರೃ

  33. Megakoresh says:

    Well, I would not really say BioShock it a good game in terms of storyline or gunplay. Art – yes, atmosphere – yes, smoothness – yes, but the storyline was way too contrived with a lot of “BScience” and predictable at the same time, which they tried to negate by throwing in perhaps one of the most overcomplicated and unnecessarily philosophical endings of all time.

    The D1 DLC is truly despicable and in my opinion 4K doesn’t deserve any full price sales because of this.

    I am not sure I understand what problem four is all about? o_O

    I will have to wait till the game goes on sale to try it out. Only better, since I would likely need to upgrade from my GTX460 to play it above medium on fullHD anyway.

  34. brfritos says:

    “PROBLEM FOUR: There’s a pretty strong failure of taste at a couple of points in the game. Yeah, it’s booby ladies again”.

    Let’s see…

    - Heads flying in a shower of blood? Check, OK.
    - Kids being burned in atomic fire? Check, OK.
    - Murdering everyone with chemical weapons? Check, OK.
    - Sawing a guy in half, with two heads in a bowl next to it? Check, OK.
    - Showing naked women in a game? Preposterous, indecency, bad taste, kill it with fire!

    The funny thing, is a brothel filled with prostitutes and you even have the option of hiring one for a dance. And how showing them naked is “a problem”?
    I guess the good thing is doing like in ME3, where people make sex with clothes, hun?

    I guess Erik Kain from Forbes is right, M rated games are targeted at the teenage 15 years old market.

    As for the game there’s a lot of problems with it. The “CoDzation” is the first, but if the combat in the first game was bad, how holding the player’s hand in this one are not? And really, you can drop a anvil next to someone and they still don’t react and this is “a perfect example of stealth? WTF!
    I give props for the graphics and the atmospheric setting, but there’s a lot of wrongs in this game that make him just another one, unlike the first one.
    Sure, is not a bad game and can entertaining you for some hours, but is just another one in the market.

    If you buy it good, you’ll have fun; if you don’t, you aren’t losing too much.
    A shame for such potential. :|

  35. fitzroy_doll says:

    Would just like to point out that this WIT is not tagged with the name of the game: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/tag/metro-last-light/

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