Metro: Last Light
|Metro: Last Light|
|Engine||4A Engine with PhysX and PathEngine|
|Distribution||Optical disc, download|
Metro: Last Light is a single-player post-apocalyptic-themed first-person shooter video game with stealth and survival horror elements, developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in May 2013. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game were released August 26, 2014. The game received widespread critical acclaim.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, part of the universe of the novel Metro 2033 and its sequels, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, but does not follow any direct storylines from the books. Previously announced as Metro 2034, the game is a sequel to the video game Metro 2033, and although Glukhovsky did work with developer 4A Games, it bears no relation to the book Metro 2034. Rumors on his website point to the upcoming book, Metro 2035, to be a novelization of Metro: Last Light, but it will cover the plot and dialogue in much greater detail and length.
Initially, the game was to be published under THQ and expected to be released in the middle of 2012; it was announced on February 2, 2012, that the game would be delayed until the first quarter of 2013, and on March 1, 2013 the game was delayed again until May. Following THQ's closure in January 2013, the intellectual property was acquired by video game publisher Deep Silver.
Metro: Last Light received positive reviews from critics. Praise was directed at the game's story (including its atmosphere, presentation, and environments), graphics (especially on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One), and the improvements made over Metro 2033 (such as the controls, gunplay, sound, and stealth mechanics). The game did however draw some criticism for its linear sequences, AI, and technical issues.
Just like the original game, Metro: Last Light is played from the perspective of Artyom, the player-character. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow, mostly inside the metro system, but occasionally missions bring the player above ground.
As a first-person shooter, Metro: Last Light features a variety of firearms, some fictional and some based on real weapons, which the player will use in combat. Combat alternates between the player fighting mutants and the player fighting hostile humans. Mutants do not possess weapons and tend to physically attack the player in swarms, while humans fight with the same firearms available to the player. The game features recharging health rather than a traditional health points system—if the player avoids taking damage for a period, health will slowly recharge. The player can speed up this process by using a stim from a medkit, which will almost instantly heal the player to full health. When the player is severely injured, it may take over twenty seconds to return to full health. Health does not regenerate on, or above the "Hardcore" difficulty.
In the post-apocalyptic environment, ammunition is a rare and essential commodity. Pre-apocalypse military-grade ammunition is used as currency; to avoid "shooting money", the player can also use lower quality bullets made within the Metros. Due to the scarcity of ammunition, a crucial aspect of gameplay is scavenging. The player can loot corpses and the environment for spare ammunition, as well as weapons and items. The military-grade ammo can be used to purchase other ammunition, weapons, and items within most of the Metro stations.
The game's locations reflect the dark atmosphere of real metro tunnels, with added survival horror elements. Strange phenomena and noises are frequent, and mostly the player has to rely only on the flashlight (and sometimes, the night-vision goggles) to find the way around in otherwise total darkness. Even more lethal is the surface, as it is severely irradiated and a gas mask must be worn at all times due to the toxic air. Often, locations have an intricate layout, and the game lacks any form of map, leaving the player to try to find their objectives with only a compass.
As Metro: Last Light aims to be immersive, the gameplay and interface are somewhat atypical. The game lacks a health meter, relying on audible heart rate and blood spatters on the screen to show the player's current state of health. The player must collect air filters for the gas mask, which last several minutes each and are automatically replaced provided the player has more in reserve. There is no heads-up display indicator to tell how long the player has until the gas mask's filters begin to fail—rather, a timer on the character's wristwatch shows how long until the current filter expires. The gas mask can become visibly damaged and will stop functioning if punctured, requiring it to be replaced. With every weapon, the bullets are (partly) visible, informing the player that their weapon is about to run out of ammo and they have to reload. The game does feature sparse traditional HUD elements, such as an ammunition indicator. However, on the hardest difficulty setting, no HUD elements are present, and players have to keep track of ammunition by the partly visible magazines.
There are also certain moral choices in the game that give Karma. Good Karma can be acquired by good actions, such as rescuing people from the enemy characters. Bad Karma can be acquired from evil actions, such as killing people randomly or stealing things.
Metro: Last Light takes place one year after the events of Metro 2033, following the canonical ending in which Artyom chose to proceed with the missile strike against the Dark Ones (this happens regardless of your actions in the first game). The Rangers have since occupied the D6 military facility, a huge pre-war bunker with miles of tunnels that have yet to be fully explored, with Artyom himself now an official Ranger. It is shown that even after a year, Artyom is still haunted from launching the missiles that caused the Dark Ones' extinction when they only sought peace. Consequentially, he suffers nightmares. Despite their best efforts, word of D6 has spread around the Metro, with rumors that the bunker may contain enough supplies to sustain the Metro indefinitely. Tensions run high as the rival factions prepare for war in the hope of seizing the bunker and its contents for themselves.
Khan, a wandering mystic, arrives at D6 to inform Artyom and the Rangers that a single Dark One survived the missile strike. Khan believes that this Dark One is the key to humanity's future, and wants to make peace with it; Colonel Miller, the Ranger's leader, wants to eliminate it as a potential threat. Miller sends Artyom to the surface with the mission to kill the Dark One, accompanied by Anna, who is Miller's sarcastic daughter but also the Rangers' best sniper.
Artyom succeeds in finding the Dark One, who turns out to be just a child, but is quickly captured by soldiers of the Fourth Reich and separated from the little Dark One. Pavel Morozov, a good-natured Red Line soldier who is captured elsewhere, teams up with Artyom in order to escape, and the two befriend each other after fighting through the Metro tunnels and across the devastated surface. When they reach a Red Line settlement, however, Pavel is revealed to be a high-ranking officer of the Red Line and although he still respects Artyom, he proceeds to detain Artyom to learn more about the Rangers and the Dark One, as he believes his cause outweighs his friendship with Artyom.
Artyom manages to escape, and races Pavel's forces to locate the Dark One and Anna, who has been kidnapped by Lesnitsky, a Red Line spy amongst the Rangers. En route, he stumbles across a contingent of Red Line forces massacring the inhabitants of a station, supposedly to contain a mysterious epidemic. In fact, as Artyom quickly learns, it was the Red Line who introduced the virus to the station, weaponized Ebola acquired from the D6 vault by Lesnitsky, in order to test its efficacy. Artyom finds Anna and frees her. Unfortunately, they are forced to escape the station after their gas masks are damaged. As a result, they are quarantined after their rescue in case they are infected. With all hope apparently lost, Anna shows the softer and more vulnerable side of her personality, and they give in to their desire and have sex.
After they test negative for symptoms of the virus, Artyom leaves and encounters Khan. With Khan's assistance, Artyom finally manages to locate the young Dark One, and in a series of hallucinatory flashbacks, recalls not only that he was saved by a Dark One as a child but, as the first human they met, he was psychically adopted by the Dark Ones, intended to form a bridge between their species and his. Artyom thereafter vows to make amends by protecting the little Dark One, and the two travel to Polis, the Metro's central station, where a peace settlement between Hansa, the Red Line, and the Reich is taking place. Artyom encounters both Lesnitsky and Pavel along the route to Polis, either killing them or letting them live after confrontations with both. Along the way, the little Dark One senses that there is a group of hibernating Dark Ones in an unexplored and locked portion of D6 and he decides to wake them up after finishing their mission. After arriving at Polis, the little Dark One uses his telepathic abilities to make the Red Line leader, Chairman Moskvin, publicly confess that the peace conference is simply a diversion to enable General Korbut to seize D6 and its bioweapon stores, who would then use them to purge the Metro of all the inhabitants not aligned with the Red Line. Artyom and the rest of the Rangers rush to the bunker to make a final stand against Korbut's army, and very nearly defeat them, but are ultimately incapacitated by an armored train ramming into their station. A heavily injured Artyom awakes to the group surrounded by Red Line soldiers, who are preparing to execute them.
There are then two possible endings, based on the Karma the player has acquired. In the standard and depressive "bad" ending, Artyom activates D6's self-destruct mechanism to prevent Korbut from using the facility to wipe out the remnants of humanity, resulting in the deaths of himself, the surviving Rangers, and the Red Line forces. Later, Anna is shown telling their child of Artyom's bravery. In the good ending, Artyom prepares to activate the device, but is stopped by the little Dark One, who along with the awakened Dark Ones proceeds to defeat Korbut's army. Artyom then calls the little Dark One humanity's "last light of hope" and has come to believe that he and the Rangers had received forgiveness when the Dark Ones saved him and the surviving Rangers at D6. In both endings, following the events of the game, the young Dark One leaves with the surviving Dark Ones to find safety, while promising either Anna or Artyom that they will come back in the future to help rebuild the world.
The game, originally known as Metro 2034, was shown at the 2011 E3 show, and was included in the Wii U show-reel, though THQ has since stated that the game may not be released for the platform. Regarding the possibility of the game coming to the Wii U, 4A Games chief technical officer Oles Shishkovtsov said the Wii U has a "horrible, slow CPU". His colleague Huw Beynon reiterated the sentiment, telling the publication there would not be a Wii U version of Metro: Last Light, because the studio "couldn't justify the effort required" and they "just figured it wasn't worth pursuing at this time."
Metro: Last Light features technology which boasts of lighting effects and improved physics claimed to set a new graphical benchmark on the PC and consoles. 4A Games made clear that the game will not ship with online mode, since the team is focused on producing the single player mode. However, the possibilities on having a multiplayer mode are not discarded and it could be released after the game's arrival.
The live-action trailer for Metro: Last Light has attracted significant attention, with about 4 million views in total. After the release of the first live-action trailer they have released three more following the lives of three characters inside the Metro. These live-action short films were released in late November/early December 2012.
The game's original publisher, THQ, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2012. The publishing rights to the Metro franchise (and Last Light) were sold in an auction on January 22, 2013 to Deep Silver, publisher of the Dead Island franchise, who pushed the release date of Metro: Last Light back to May 14.
Former THQ President Jason Rubin offered details of extremely difficult working conditions and demands put on the 4A Games team while completing the game. From unreasonable budget demands, to literally freezing office working conditions due to frequent power failures, to having to smuggle computer equipment into the offices to avoid corrupt customs officials. Rubin said: "If you care about the art of making games then you have to care about more than the final product," and "the struggle and the journey becomes part of the story. Like sport, you cheer when the underdog comes from behind, and triumphs in the face of incredible odds."
For those who pre-ordered the game, they received a limited edition of Metro: Last Light that featured a code for the downloadable content (DLC) Ranger Mode, a setting for greater game difficulty, as well as a unique gun and in-game currency. Ranger Mode encompasses the same campaign, but with the lack of a HUD or cross hairs, while the plethora of ammunition and resources has been reduced severely, making the player feel fully immersed in the game's world. This created much controversy (see the reception section) in the gaming community. Ranger Mode was later released as DLC costing $4.99/£3.99/€4.99 or 400 Microsoft Points.
Additionally, four DLC packs were released. The first pack, the Faction Pack, became available in June, 2013. However, the release date was pushed back to 16 July 2013 for the United States and 17 July worldwide. This pack contains three bonus single-player missions with the player playing as a Red Line Sniper, a Fourth Reich 'Heavy' soldier, and a Polis Ranger in training, with new weapons not found in the main storyline. The pack was well received by critics, who praised the ability to use different characters than in the main storyline, however, some reviewers felt that there was a lack of depth to the character's back-stories, as well as complaining of numerous bugs in certain missions. The Polis mission was praised the most for its free roaming setting and length. The other three packs were released within 60 days of the release of the Faction Pack. The second pack, the Tower Pack, gives single-player challenge missions that have online leaderboards. The third pack, the Developer Pack, features a shooting gallery, a combat simulator, an in-game museum, and a single-player mission "The Spiders' Nest". Finally, the fourth pack, the Chronicles Pack, features three additional single-player missions that are played as three characters from the main storyline, Khan, Pavel and Anna, adding in extra background story information to the world.
Players can buy a season pass, which gives them all 4 DLC's at a discounted price. It also contains a limited edition, in-game automatic shotgun called the Abzats, and a light machine gun that was previously only available via pre-order from select retailers, the RPK.
On May 22, 2014, a Redux version of the game was announced. It was released on August 26, 2014 in North America and August 29, 2014 in Europe for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Redux adds all the DLC and graphical improvements. A compilation package, titled Metro Redux, was released at the same time which includes Last Light and 2033.
Metro: Last Light received positive reviews from critics, with most complimenting the game's graphics and story, but also criticizing the game's induction of linear sequences. The game was nominated for Best Shooter for Spike's 2013 VGX game awards.
Game Informer's Jeff Marchiafava gave the game a rating of 8.75/10, stating that human AI has been greatly improved. He also explained that the game "features tighter controls and improved sound design for its arsenal, which now puts the gunplay on par with most triple-A shooters". However, Marchiafava felt that the monster battles were not as interesting. He also criticized the voice acting and character animation. Despite this, the upgraded stealth mechanics and colorful atmosphere were the strongest parts of the game. He explained that "Metro: Last Light fixes most of its predecessor's flaws while also improving upon its strengths." IGN's Colin Moriarty stated in his review that "Metro: Last Light is a bold post-apocalyptic first-person shooter adventure uniquely told from the Russian point of view. Last Light 's setting and presentation are its strong points, though the last third of its campaign is weaker than everything that came before it. If you want a fun first-person shooter that doesn't rise to the greatness of single player-centric adventures like BioShock but is still fun in its own right, then Last Light may just be for you. He scored it 7.2/10 for consoles while he later gave the PC version a 7.7/10 for its superior graphics. GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd awarded it with more positive score with a 9.0/10 calling it "an astonishing and moving postapocalyptic journey". Polish gaming website Gry-Online gave the game a high rating of 9/10, opining: "Metro: Last Light certainly isn't just another AAA shooter aimed at a typical gamer. The game's strength lies in that its viscera are filled to the brim with – mature, brutal and ruthless content". The story, and its gameplay mechanics, stealth elements, atmosphere, presentation, environments and audiovisual elements were praised by reviewer Krystian Smoszna as Last Light 's best qualities, whilst minor technical issues (including uneven enemy AI) were highlighted as the game's main flaw.
The game's implementation of Ranger Mode, as a pre-order bonus or paid downloadable content caused negative reactions in the gaming community. The advertisements for the Limited Edition of the game even stated that Ranger Mode was "how Metro: Last Light is meant to be played", proving that the content was already created for the game but was being held back as DLC. On the Steam forums, a community manager from Deep Silver defended the implementation of Ranger Mode as DLC. The manager claimed that Ranger Mode became pre-order DLC at the insistence of the game's previous publisher, THQ. He further claimed that after THQ's bankruptcy, and by the time of Deep Silver's acquisition of 4A Games, game development had ceased and therefore there was not adequate time to integrate Ranger Mode into the main game.
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