Note: Spoilers about tunnels, more tunnels, and bad Russian accents.
I wish all first person shooters could be as innovative and immersive as Bioshock: Infinite or, the king of all FPS games, Half Life 2. But alas, we aren’t quite graced with FPS games that can do that. Call of Duty may be the biggest offender when it comes to sacrificing quality for mass appeal, but the entire FPS industry has suffered from a slump of sorts. Aside from the Bioshock and Crysis games, there hasn’t been a whole lot out there that’s worked to innovate and enlighten. So, when I heard that there was going to be a sequel to Metro 2033, I was…skeptical at best. I wasn’t sure if it was going to transcend the issues that that plagued that first game, but it was getting considerable hype, so I was rather hopeful. Well…Metro: Last Light isn’t as great as I had hoped it would be, with its lackluster story and characters, its somewhat monotonous environment, and its unnecessary sexual exploitation.
The story revolves around the protagonist Artyom, who is trying to recover the Dark One because some believe it to be the key to humanity’s survival. While the premise is certainly interesting, the story moves along as a crawl, with the majority of the game dedicated to just trying to get to Polis. For as much world-building as they try to do, it certainly doesn’t help to have a story that barely interacts with that world. And, as is true with many protagonists in FPS games, Artyom isn’t much of a character. He functions as a narrator of sorts, but his narration doesn’t reveal a whole lot about the world around him or expand his personality very much. I will say that post-apocalyptic Russia is realized fairly well, but the monotony of that environment is just so pervasive that I wasn’t really engrossed by it.
The combat is halfway decent, but wasn’t as great as I would have hoped. There’s a fair amount of guns to choose from, as well as a fair amount of attachments to utilize to customize the guns. All of those offer enough variation to meet the needs of different style of play, from stealthy assassination to viciously obliterating any and every enemy. There’s also a couple secondary weapons to utilize, from regular grenades to incendiary grenades, that offer additional ways to crowd control (although they’re not entirely satisfying to use). The most innovative way that Metro enhances its gameplay is through the utilization of gas masks with limited air supplies, as Artyom occasionally has to traverse sections of Russia’s surface, a place littered with mutated enemies and saturated with radiation. That makes the movement along the surface far more urgent than the rest of the combat, not to mention that the tension is already heightened by the abundance of bizarre mutated enemies. Those sections are among the more impressive of the game, while the underground segments can become rather monotonous after a time. The underground segments that held my interest the most were those where I was being swarmed by mutated enemies, whereas fighting soldiers was pretty standard FPS fare. There’s also a currency system, where a certain kind of bullet can be collected and used to purchase weapons and weapon parts (or lap dances…). There’s not much more than can be done beyond standard weapon customization, but it’s enough to keep the combat somewhat varied. Overall, the gameplay is pretty standard, although there are certainly segments of the game that rise above the rest in terms of intensity and quality.
The other major complaint that I have about this game was the unnecessary sexual exploitation. There’s a right way and a wrong way to use female nudity in storytelling, and the way that Metro: Last Light used it was undoubtedly the wrong one. Little to no commentary is made on the gender power structures that formed after the apocalypse, which would be the only thing to explain the titillating nature of the female nudity in the game. What really floored me was the notion that Arytom can get a lap dance during the game, and since it’s in the first person, it’s like the player is receiving a virtual lap dance. It’s so tasteless and exploitative that it really irritated me to see a game contain such ridiculous content. In a medium that already exhibits a great deal of sexism, containing such content simply makes it look bad.
Ultimately, Metro: Last Light is just a letdown. It’s boring, monotonous, and sometimes outright exploitative. Sure, the combat can be fun. There’s enough variation in the combat to keep those action bits worthwhile. But the combat simply isn’t good enough to outweigh the negative aspects of the game, especially the lackluster narrative and the exploitative nudity. It’s just another game that tries to innovate and simply doesn’t do enough to work past the confines of the genre. I’m hoping that FPS games can do a bit of evolution as we move into the next generation of video game consoles, but so far, I’m not very hopeful.
Also: Holy shit. Those Russian accents were absolutely terrible. I can’t believe they actually let that voice acting slide.
Final Thoughts: A lackluster sequel, Metro: Last Light is certainly a playable, fun game, but suffers from a boring story, boring characters, and a general monotony.
I’m going to be reviewing The Great Gatsby later today, so that’ll be fun. I’m still processing the movie, which certainly was a visual assault. Aside from that, you’ll be getting House of Cards tomorrow as well as NOS4A2 in a day or two. It’s a long book, but man, is it easy to fly through. I’m still playing through Ni No Kuni, so don’t expect a review on that for a couple weeks. In the meantime, I may play Resident Evil: Revelations, but I don’t know. It’s certainly a “maybe”. As for upcoming movies, I plan on watching and reviewing Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness, but I’m not entirely sure when I can do that. Maybe this weekend? Maybe next week? I wish I had a more definitive schedule, but it just doesn’t work like that. And I’ll be continuing with Game of Thrones and Mad Men coverage, though I’m not sure what to review after that. Maybe more books. We’ll see. Until tomorrow (or later today), loyal followers.
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