Developer: 4A Games
Release date: May 14, 2013
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Q: Why would a self-respecting and mostly rational person buy a game from Xbox live On Demand for £30 and wait eight hours for the 7GBs to load on their hard drive before they could even begin playing it?
A: They wouldn’t.
Since I’m neither rational nor mindful of the passing of time, I did do this. At the root of the purchase of Metro: Last Light, a dark post-apocalyptic FPS horror set in subterranean Moscow, was the fact that it looked really quite a lot like a Fallout game – trailers and gameplay footage made it appear nigh on identical. Having not long ago emerged from an extended Fallout: New Vegas hibernation period, all I wanted to do was play it again, but I concluded that, as blissful as that fuzzy-warm nuclear stupor is, I didn’t have another 80 hours to spare. Since Metro had generally positive reviews all around and appeared to be New Vegas but without VATS or level ups, I was eager to get amongst the irradiated subway tunnels of the bombed out Russian capital and blow the testes off some mutant’s shoulder.
Metro: Last Light has many, many faults. First and foremost are the guns. There aren’t very many of them, and apart from the sparsely peppered pick up opportunities, the only way to improve your weapons or swap them for ‘more lethal’/’more efficient’/’more robust’ hardware is to collect military grade bullets – Metro’s ruling currency – and throw them at vendors who you could easily get away with just shooting and taking the lot. No one would know. Whose gonna stop you, the skeletal remains of the police force that’s extinct for nearly twenty years?
Moreover, the amount of spare cash-ammo lying around is in shameful disparity with the prices said vendors charge for their uselessly clunky firearms – each time I came across one I had just enough to afford a silencer, a throwing knife and a newer shotgun model – provided I trade in my old one, mind. (Make sure to save a clip or two, in case you come across one of the game’s proto-Euro-trash strip joints, where you can pay a virtual pole dancer five quid to do absolutely nothing and carry on with the animation it was doing before you entered the room.) Whether or not the dosh drought was made drier by the hardest difficulty setting I chose is irrelevant, because all the guns and all the upgrades have an astonishing lack of impact; appearance and ammunition aside, every weapon in the game just seems identical in every way. They all handle with the same ineffectual mediocrity and do the same negligible amount of damage to the lamebrained enemies that run forwards at you until you’re dead. You’d think a game focused on shooting would show creative thought behind its all important weapons, but no, they’re complete dreck. Besides, if you want to you can stealthily stab your way through three quarters of the game. Not that you’d want to, because the sneak attacks are so overpowered you get bored after taking out a single tunnel of enemies – clearing the whole damned network this way just doesn’t bear thinking about.
The graphics and voice acting are Metro’s only saving graces; the self-branded 4A engine of Ukrainian developers 4A games, which makes the world so visually haunting, is probably what helped them get most of their sales. No matter how much people cite ‘story’ as important in basic shooter games, graphics are still a huge selling point – just look at YouTube comments for the latest e3 trailers for proof. Since this is a single player FPS experience, however, you would expect a little more weight and reason to your man’s actions than: 1) Find an apparently extra-special mutant that got stole by the guys that aren’t us, 2) Get revenge on the guy that betrayed you , something you were meant to be totally surprised by despite only having known him three hours, 3) Do not get eaten by massive nuclear bat that is always ******* there like the ****and ***** ******** that it is. Without a motive to run with and no scope to the dusty, claustrophobic corridor of a storyline, the repetitive gameplay reaches a level of mundane that one might go as far as to call supernatural. Horror, a highly cracked up element in the promotion of Metro Last Light, seems to be on holiday.