Beneath an irradiated Moscow littered with mutated animals and bugs, you’ll find a deep, dark underground subway...littered with mutated animals and bugs. There’s a huge difference in gameplay between on the surface and down in the depths of the metro, and the best way to sum it up is this: on the surface gameplay is boring, and down in the depths is a thrill-ride all gamers will want to enjoy. Metro: Last Light delightfully blends the lines between first person shooter and survival horror in way that feels like a nightmarish version of Fallout, but in a smaller game world.
The story for Metro: Last Light is one of its highlights, as it tells the story where survivors of a nuclear blast are struggling to live beneath the surface of Moscow in the subway. This is no ordinary subway, of course, as it is filled with mutant spiders, scorpion-like beasts, and other mutated creatures to fill your nightmares with. You play the role of Artyom, a soldier that struggles to find his proper place in the society. The game’s introduction cinematic does a fantastic job at explaining the story for you; I love how the mother’s face was blurred as Artyom was saying he couldn’t remember what she looked like.
The characters in Metro: Last Light are very well developed. Throughout the game, you will meet some very interesting people, including a fisherman of sorts, a double crossing "friend", a Hitler-esque tough-guy, and a stripper (enjoy THAT scene, fellas). You'll probably find the stripper the most interesting. Just saying.
Be prepared for some scares, as Metro: Last Light doesn’t shy away from the spook, and you’ll have an uneasy, something-is-about-to-kill-me feeling right from the first 5 minutes of the game. There’s plenty of terrifying moments fueled by the game’s eerie setting, horrific beings and difficult gameplay. One moment in particular that stands out is a moment when Artyom has to fend off a horde of mutants in the depths of the subway as he awaits a rescue raft from the other side of a body of water. I won’t ruin any more moments of the game for you, but expect some F.E.A.R. style scares.
It’s not just all about the scares, though. You’ll want to conserve as much of your ammo as possible by not running-and-gunning, but tactically taking out your enemies stealthily, one by one, as there isn’t an endless supply of ammo like there is in most FPS titles. Scavenging plays an important role in your survival in the subway tunnels, so be sure to pick up those bullets from your freshly killed enemies. You can go balls-to-the-wall in the easier game modes and survive okay, but I wouldn’t recommend this method while playing on hard or ranger mode, which I highly recommend playing the game on. There's good news for those that find Hard mode too difficul; you can change the difficulty to normal and back to hard at any time. Thankfully, Metro: Last Light isn't one of those games that requires you to play through the entire game on one difficulty level, so if you find yourself stuck on a section of the game, you can lower the difficulty after a few tries.
Metro: Last Light provides a good variation of gameplay throughout your trek into darkness. Sure, you're mostly running around with a gun for the majority of the ten hours of gameplay, but you'll also fend off giant shrimp from a boat, drive through the subway on a go-cart of sorts, and there are some other surprises along the way.
Ranger Mode is the name of the game, and unfortunately, it is an element that Koch Media has apparently botched for PC players. If you didn’t pre-order the game, Ranger Mode isn’t included, and you’ll have to spend $5 post-release for the Ranger Mode DLC. I don’t think this should necessarily be reflected in my review score, but this is a notably poor decision on Koch’s part that deserves mentioning.
Metro: Last Light looks good on consoles, but looks incredible on PC, which is why there are such high system requirements for the PC version. The environments are filled with aphotic hallways and spectacular lighting. And, you'll find yourself appreciating the detail of the mutants as they claw your face off. Unfortunately, console players will not be able to see the game in its true glory on PC, as the consoles' ages are clearly started to show.
I do have a few gripes with Metro: Last Light that keep it from being an A+ title. One of the most noticeable annoyances is the sound design while walking around in the first 20 minutes of the game, which is mostly introduction and dialogue. While walking around the area, you’ll overhear ALL conversations, and because there are so many, the words get jumbled together in a less-than-pleasing manner. Other than that, I’m only disappointed in the limited available guns and mods in the game. There’s just a handful of guns available in the game, and only a few modifications available for each gun, which seems strange in a scavenger’s society.
Although it isn’t a perfect experience, Metro: Last Light is one of the best blends of FPS and survival horror to date. Playing the game on Hard or Ranger mode will get you the most enjoyment, because when you play it on normal difficulty, it doesn’t feel like anything special. It may get off to a slow start, with a good 20 minute intro, but once you get into the action, you'll have trouble putting your controller down. It’s well worth the buy, and is sure to go down as a current generation fan favorite in the survival horror genre.