Our obsession with post apocalyptic scenarios is nothing new. The extent of this morbid obsession can clearly be seen in various Hollywood movies that depict end of days due to one reason or another and the extremely difficult life handful of survivors face. The video game industry has churned out its fair share of post-apocalyptic master pieces, which have etched unforgettable memories in our mind. Most of these are big budgeted ventures with huge capital investment and are mostly associated with some of the leading game producing companies. So, it’s a very pleasant surprise when out of nowhere a very small scaled Ukrainian based studio named 4A Games puts forth a gem of a game titled Metro Last Light. Metro Last Light is a first person shooter post apocalyptic game with survival horror elements. It’s a sequel to 4A games earlier venture Metro 2033 and is based on the writings of author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Last Light had quite a few hurdles during its development phase, delays and the abrupt closure of its publishing company THQ. Fortunately, a publishing company named Deep Sliver acquired and saved it from being doomed to development hell and obscurity.
The story follows the exploits of the protagonist named Artyom who dwells underneath the ruins of Moscow city in metro tunnels. The world above has been totally obliterated by a nuclear holocaust and rendered unlivable. The unfortunate souls, caught on the surface during the holocaust, have been turned into twisted and vile mutants that hunt the survivors living in the tunnels. The game remains true to the theme that it’s during a severe crisis the true human nature is revealed. The survivors instead of cooperating with each other are divided into factions occupying various metro tunnel sections; they continuously squabble and fight each other over the remaining resources left. Humanity is on the verge of extinction! The story picks up after the cataclysmic events of the first game, where an important decision had to be made at the very end by our hero. The game continues assuming that Artyom chose to destroy the creatures known as dark ones by calling down a missile strike on their base. Artyom soon learns that a solitary dark one has managed to survive the devastation he wrecked upon their species and owing to his special connection with them tries to contact it while the faction he has sworn allegiance to seeks to destroy it.
Graphics and visuals
Last Light has to be the most graphically stimulating game of this generation. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that it's on par with the likes of Crysis 3, which is a real feat achieved by 4A games considering their very limited budget. The ruins of Moscow city are crafted with elegance and finesse that would certainly make the gamers gasp out in sympathy. While witnessing the metro tunnels and the height to which humanity has stooped to would certainly invoke feelings of dread and claustrophobia. A typical survivor in the wasteland has to be wary about not just the horrors lurking on the surface but his fellow survivors too. Even in such dire circumstances, humanity is portrayed to be on a self destructive path with warring factions being formed amongst the survivors. The faction Artyom belongs to is the most neutral and unluckily is in possession of bunker D6 which is rumored to be holding resources of high value. This makes it on the hit list of other two factions, namely the Communist Red Line and the downright tyrannical Fascist Reich.
The first person shooting experience has never felt more fluid and accurate. When you shoot a monstrosity or turn the gun on a troublesome survivor, the bullet impact and the reaction of the victim are quite accurately rendered. For some reason best known to them, the developers chose to make the sprinting and walking a bit sluggish, whether they wanted the gamers to feel how cumbersome it would feel walking around with protective gear or it's simply a glitch.
Being a true survivalist horror game, the ammo for every weapon is a rare commodity and hence spraying everything that walks and going in guns blazing is not a wise approach. The emphasis of the game is on stealth and conserving ammo for direr situations. There’s a limit to the weapons Artyom can carry which also necessitates carefully rationing your arsenal. Metro Last Light is quite linear but it avoids being monotonous by allowing exploration of certain areas and this gels well with invoking the aforementioned feelings of claustrophobia one might expect in underground tunnels. Playing stealth is highly recommended as it will certainly save your life on numerous occasions; you would make your way around vastly numbered concentration of opposing factions. Artyom can improve on stealth by shooting sources of light in an area, creeping up behind the enemy and knocking them down or simply throwing knife at vulnerable points from a distance. This approach works well with human enemies but gamers would have to think very strategically while dealing with mutant monstrosities. Mutants take a lot of punishment before going down and are very fast, being extra careful while being on their turf is recommended.
The most difficult part from me was on the surface where I had to keep a cautious eye out for the air filters, which power the gas mask. At the beginning of the game, this is one commodity that was very precious but becomes fairly common at the end. The visor of the gas mask also becomes blurred while being exposed to upper surface elements and blood and gore of the vanquished need to be cleaned. These are the aspects that give Metro Last Light a sense of realism that is very uncommon to behold in other games of similar genre.
Metro Last Light is a tremendously immersive and highly enjoyable game. The game puts you smack into the middle of the proceedings and you immediately begin to identify with Artyom and his various dilemmas. The atmosphere that 4A Games has rendered on the screen is haunting and breathtaking. The AI however freezes up and goes bonkers on certain occasions, plus there are absolutely no choices to make that would alter the course of the game. Other than that, it’s a vastly superior offering compared to its predecessor. Story is not the forte of the game despite having enough twists and turns to keep you guessing till the very end. The game so far has garnered positive reviews from critics and gamers alike and received a little flak about its linear approach. The shooting mechanics are on par with AAA shooters and whatever glitches the first game suffered from have been rectified. This is a very commendable offering and would go a long way to cement the reputation of 4A Games in the mainstream game business. Metro Last Light currently enjoys a healthy metacritic rating of 80 and averages around 8.5 /10 on most major video gaming sites. As for me, I would give it at least 9 /10 for depicting the end of the world from a typical Russian perspective. If your thing is fumbling around in dark confined spaces and you enjoy a good scare and running for your life from mutant abominations, then you should definitely get this game.