Metro: Last Light Review – A Franchise On Its Final Journey?
The original game, Metro 2033, may have failed to breach the PlayStation 3 market in 2010 but 3 years on fans finally have the opportunity to sink their teeth into the latest title based on the famous writings of Dmitry Glukhovsky in Metro: Last Light.
I won’t pretend to be the biggest fan of the Metro franchise although I’m well aware of the depth and innovation involved in the official books as well as the fan writings that surround the franchise. However, even the very best stories can fall short if they don’t adapt to the very latest in game mechanics. The universe of Metro continues to prove popular in various forms of media but does it have the legs to be a true gaming franchise or are we looking at a 1-2 fail?
The opening few minutes of Metro: Last Light attempts to educate the player on the previous happenings in the original game. Many popular franchises today are opting to avoid continuing storyline’s, such as our Game of the Year Far Cry 3, but Metro has such deep roots in storytelling, they really had no choice but to continue the game in the sequel. Personally, as someone that doesn’t have the best of memories with the original, I did find the story introduction helped in regards to filling a few gaps but it didn’t really offer as much information as I’d hoped.
Metro: Last Light Trailer
Metro: Last Light Review
However, several hours into the game I did find myself becoming quite familiar with events that happened in Metro 2033, and the references come thick and fast. We always try our very best to avoid any serious story spoilers in our honest game reviews here at Gamers Heroes so I won’t go into too much depth but it’s unmissable. The depth of the game world and the characters you encounter rivals even the very best storytelling in today’s industry. The likes of The Walking Dead from TellTale and Bioshock Infinite have taken storytelling to whole new heights in recent months but Metro: Last Light can compete in its own right.
I cannot remember the last time I experienced a story with such depth. The developers have put more effort into portraying the events from the Metro universe than they have any other aspect of the game and in certain regards, it pays off. Even in the first few towns and areas there are literally home to 15-20 minutes of conversations that have nothing to do with the progression of the game. I quite often found myself straying from the beaten path purely to listen to the experiences and feelings of those that inhabit the Metro game world and it really gives the player a feeling of passion towards those around them.
The only really negative aspect to spending large amounts of time speaking to random characters are the animations themselves. The lip syncing is about as basic as you can get and you can easily spot the same animation used for very different sounding words and a few of the cut-scenes totally destroy any feeling of immersion as characters pick up floating objects that don’t actually register as being held in the hand.
Despite the lackluster animations the game manages to deliver a highly engaging post-apocalyptic atmosphere with attention to detail both below and above ground. I didn’t really feel the textures were up to par with today’s games, especially on the characters and NPC’s but the attention to detail cannot be faltered.
However, Metro: Last Light didn’t manage to keep me engaged for long because the FPS mechanics seemed stale and out-dated. It’s not to say they’re bad, in actual fact they’ve been refined to near perfect but there was just nothing new, nothing pushing the box. The hit detection is flawless, the animations and designs of the weapons were great and the gun customization system was basic but enough to actually provide alternate options in battle. But even with this near-perfect package, I just didn’t feel like I was ever doing anything other than chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Going through cut-scene, fight, cut-scene, plot-twist, I felt like I needed something to break up the grind a little bit.
Retracting further from the FPS experience, is the lackluster AI. The enemies just rush to the end of your gun barrel as quickly as they can and the great stealth mechanics are quite often ruined by astonishing human feats as enemies see you through a solid surface. The stealth mechanics are without a doubt the better option as I crept through the oppressive atmosphere, disabling light bulbs and exposing my enemies to sure death in their dark surroundings, but the satisfying feeling of almost accomplishing the perfect stealth approach was often cut-short after an enemy found you in an impossible place.
I think fans of the original game, and those that enjoy the background story of the Metro universe will thoroughly enjoy those parts of the game. But for seasoned FPS players or for those still riding the high provided by recently released FPS games, I’d wait until the game drops a little in price before picking it up.