An on-the-rails shooter?

Written by Stuart Thomas on Thu, May 16, 2013 7:28 AM
Where does Metro: Last Light rank in the list of the most demanding games?
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How well optimised is Metro: Last Light for PC? 9.1
9.1

Has every game got to break new ground?

Silly question, really, as the annual crop of EA Sports titles should show. Just bang a couple of updated player names, blather on a bit about intelligent marking and the offside trap, and Bob is your proverbial uncle.

It's an important starting point, though, when you're taking a look at Metro: Last Light. There is nothing mechanically going on here that we've not seen a billion times before in FPSes - it's a straightforward story-driven shooter with stealth options that doesn't really offer much in the way of pathway options. In fact, it's really easy for any FPS player to immediately pick up.

But, you know, it's about video gaming as a storytelling medium. It's the sequel to a game based on a novel, so you'd really expect the yarn-spinning to be up to snuff. Fortunately, it is.

Following on from the story from its predecessor Metro 2033, much of the action predictably enough takes place in the cramped tunnels of the Moscow metro system. Graphically the subterranean sections have a haunting quality, heaps of shadowy debris and cobwebs choke the forgotten rail lines, and the inhabited sections are rammed with people, giving a cramped, claustrophobic atmosphere not all that dissimilar to travelling on the present-day metro. The outdoor sections are combat-heavy races against time where waves of mutants need to be overcome before the air supply in your gas mask runs out. Again, the visual feel is powerfully delivered. The crumbling edifices of the pre-war city manage to cling to some semblance of dignity and grandeur even when overrun with freaky beasts.

Weapons, combat, movement – all are done in familiar ways. Really, from a gameplay perspective, there's not a huge amount to really report on. It's all about the story and – importantly – how it's told. Sometimes, story elements are delivered simply by having you creep past whatever it is the game wants you to see, and at other times, short non-invasive cutscenes (usually delivered from the gameplay POV) fill you in on important details. You can walk (or crawl through airducts) for ages without having a challenge, as the game subtly lets you know that you're moving between areas – and, usually, there'll be a pacing change. You'll go from an exposition-heavy stealth section to a tense, creepy exploration sequence (complete with ghosts, demons and other gribblies) not exactly seamlessly, but with masterful precision on the part of the writers.

Characters that you meet on your travels are nuanced and complicated, and even some of the villains you can't help but sort of forgive. The whole thing actually has a little taste of Half Life 2 about it – there's another game that delighted in switching it's pacing in order to keep you involved.

So it's a great story told through the time-honoured medium of the FPS. But it's not perfect. Sometimes, the AI is a little on the dim side, and even on the hard skill setting there are swathes of the game that feel less than massively challenging. This isn't altogether a bad thing, necessarily – I'm sorry to keep harping on about it, but it's the story they're obviously interested in, and if you're caught on an unfairly tough stealth section, you're not moving through the story. Nevertheless, it felt like perhaps a little more time spent on tougher AI may not have been a bad idea.

Sound is used cleverly, particularly in order to ramp up the frightening bits, but sometimes conversations can overlap in a slightly unrealistic way, even with good quality 3D sound. As you're wandering through a faction's lair, the game really wants you to hear what people are talking about, and by default these NPC interactions are also delivered as on-screen text. Where several conversations are happening right next to each other, the on-screen text devolves into weird, impossible-to-follow crossed lines, and the clear, well-delivered voice-acted lines fail to really sound like the hubbub of a busy bar, for example. Still, it's a workmanlike way of delivering plot.

More than anything else, though, it's the use of visuals to communicate the story that is so clever here. Ghostly apparitions manifest in a number of different ways throughout the game, and even the lighting can readily communicate ideas. The different styles of the various factions can be confusing to differentiate at times, but the story makes sure you always know where you are and who's who.

Metro: Last Light really showcases where we're up to with FPS games when you don't try to do anything too mechanically unusual. Clearly a high-budget title, and obviously the result of hard work by some extraordinarily talented people, the game really does feel like reading a novel – you're playing it to see what happens as much as for any other reason. I, for one, love to be told a good story by a game, and while it might not be a game I'm talking about for years to come, it is a compelling tale, well-told.

Pros

  • Great Story
  • Good use of graphics

Cons

  • No new gameplay stuff
  • Poor AI
Score

8.5

Good

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05:30 Jun-02-2013

I just completed Metro LL, and this was probably the biggest disappointment of the year for me.
The game never felt like it ever really took off; it always seemed to be saying to me, "I'm gonna get good! Just wait! It's coming! Here comes the fun! Gonna get good in 3... 2... 1..." but before I ever really found myself enjoying it, the credits were rolling.
This game carried over a major problem from 2033: boring mutant fights. In fact, LL exacerbated the problem by throwing more mutants at you. Fighting mutants is boring. They just charge at you. Fighting human enemies is far more entertaining as you have the option of stealthing them, and if you get caught they will shoot back. You can't stealth the mutants and none of them have ranged attacks. They just behave like a bunch of bulls, and you just spam them with a shotty.
The control mechanics have been sharpened for the sequel, but everything still feels too awkward.

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05:36 Jun-02-2013

The end of the game was so anti-climactic. It was supposed to be a let-loose battle of the two factions, and it ended up all taking place within an EXTREMELY confined area. And the tank battle? 4A really screwed the pooch there by giving the player no indication of how to defeat it, and actually provided misdirected dialog.
The graphics are very nice, to be sure, but I'll be damned if I can figure out why they were pushing my system so hard. They didn't seem that good. I barely noticed PhysX effects, which was a real bummer. PhysX seemed to be so sparsely used that I wonder why they bothered at all. In fact, I always found myself double-checking the settings to make sure "Advanced PhysX" was always ticked to "on." I can't figure out why these are supposed to be "advanced" PhysX. To me, it seemed like "advanced" really meant "barely noticeable" PhysX.
While 2033 had its share of flaws, it is far and away the superior game. If the Metro series is now done for good, it would be just fine with me.

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08:56 Jun-02-2013

I agree with you on that tank battle thing. It took me so long to figure out how to defeat it, and it was really weird.
Actually, it was the graphics of the game that kept me going on lol.

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16:25 Jun-02-2013

For the tank the parts you had to shoot were glowing red. One shot with sniper and they were toast :) It sucks that the last battle only lasted 7 mins and was so darn easy.

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16:29 Jun-02-2013

The problem with the tank battle was your comrade said something like, "Artyom! A tank on the third platform. Get to the second platform and destroy it!" So, I wandered around looking for access to the second f*cking platform. I eventually got impatient and just Googled the solution. My guess is originally you were supposed to go to a lower platform, but the devs cut out that sequence, changed the method of defeating the tank by shooting its wheels, and did not bother to change/delete the voice over dialog.
It was lazy, just like the design for most of the game.

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17:14 Jun-02-2013

Yeah, that dialogue actually confused me. Also, as it was the last battle, there should have been more gunfights and stages. It didn't give the feel that it was the climax of the game..

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17:34 Jun-02-2013

Ah! I see. I wasn't paying attention to what he said at that part. Lucky me :D The tough conditions the game was made under must be why most of game fell flat.

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14:10 May-23-2013

A very intereseting and realistic game! I finished it yesterday!
Have fun playing it! :D

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16:00 May-23-2013

I finished 14 chapters in one day....

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18:30 May-22-2013

I would like to ask if will be another metro pc game in the future.I will be glad to play metro game again.

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19:34 May-22-2013

Most likely there will be :D

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21:15 May-22-2013

There are DLCs coming for LL ;)

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11:27 May-28-2013

Like what?

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12:00 May-28-2013

Devs claimed that they are working on DLCs which will be released throughout summers.

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06:44 May-20-2013

Its Funny! The first Picture is a place called "Venice" in the Game.
I was Right there before I visited this article.
Staring at the same Angle the screenshot was taken! :P

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07:10 May-20-2013

hehehehe...nice :p

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12:13 May-20-2013

yea ;]

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18:49 May-21-2013

coincidence? I think not!

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02:04 May-22-2013

haha me neither :b

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08:30 May-22-2013

It's a conspiracy! :D

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10:37 May-22-2013

He's the chosen one!

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11:08 May-22-2013

haha .. wait .. does this mean the world is gonna End and I will be the only survivor :O

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14:05 May-22-2013

no.

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13:28 May-23-2013

Jealous cuz I live and you die :P

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04:40 May-20-2013

Did anyone else beat the game on the ranger difficulty with the hardest settings and everything within 7 hours? People were saying the game was 9-10 hours. I even did the side missions that you didn't have to do.

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14:16 May-19-2013

Just finished it yesterday! It was great!
Well the ending was a bit cheap, but it wasn't that bad.
I'm going to try out the first game too, I've played all the Stalker games also.
Even if I don't like all the aspects of this game, I'll still give it a strong 10 :) Recommended!

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05:26 May-19-2013

i didnt experience any problems with the AI,and there really isnt any new Gameplay element left to add.The atmosphere was so awesome and immersive.i give it a 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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19:07 May-18-2013

Great game and much better than the first one! Really enjoying it.

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19:16 May-18-2013

I like the environment and the creepy feeling of the metro with the ruined buildings.I played many games but only metro combines the stunning graphics with the environment of the metro city.

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08:19 May-19-2013

Exactly!

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11:04 May-19-2013

try stalker , you will feel almost the same

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11:28 May-19-2013

Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl is my favorite,
but environment of Metro series is better.

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22:33 May-17-2013

Metro 2033 was OK for me. I am sorry but I don't want another OK :P

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05:19 May-18-2013

Lol same here :P I didn't like 2033 so this one is not good :P

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07:46 May-18-2013

Very poor choice :P

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07:57 May-18-2013

Awww thank you &#603

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14:13 May-18-2013

how can you not like this game it is such a fun experience and the AI is funny as hell (General sits down in mid air 2 feet away from a chair) lol

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19:39 May-17-2013

I can play it on very high settings BUT with SSAO OFF.I get 40-50 fps.With 2x ssao fps drops to 22 fps which is unplayable.I consider to upgrade my graphics card.Any opinion will be helpful

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14:13 May-18-2013

upgrade to a GTX 660 TI boost

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15:28 May-18-2013

Did u mean 650ti boost? Cuz 660ti boost does not exist

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16:19 May-18-2013

maybe he meant 660ti with the option of overclocking.

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16:55 May-18-2013

Maybe... Or just OCed out of box one

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19:11 May-18-2013

Thank you for your opinion but i want to upgarde to gtx 670.Worths the money or the gtx660 TI is a better choice (i consider the money too).I checked benchmarks and the gtx 670 oc performs close to gtx 680.Any opinion again? :))

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22:10 May-18-2013

My opinion wait for the 7xx series and go for gtx760, you will get more value and performance, with the new integrated graphics intel is offering (5200 graphics) i think nvida and amd would do their best to bring something better than expected.

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01:34 May-21-2013

What do you mean the GTX 660 Ti doesn't exist look it up on the nvidia website. And anyway I'm upgrading to one of those any way its shipping right now! LOL

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09:15 May-21-2013

He meant GTX 660 Ti Boost doesn't exist. ;)

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23:37 May-22-2013

oh ti boost...ok sorry lol

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23:12 May-16-2013

No new gameplay stuff
Poor AI
...And I wanted to buy that

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23:57 May-16-2013

It's a first person shooter with survival horror elements and is also an upgraded sequel. What kind of new gameplay stuff were you expecting? Drag racing?

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07:50 May-17-2013

Actually poor ai is something that bothers me far more than no new gameplay stuff

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14:15 May-18-2013

There is no problem with the AI except in one scenario when a general sits down in mid air when there is a chair 2 feet from him.

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21:25 May-19-2013

That's hardly an AI issue :D

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21:48 May-19-2013

Yeah, that's a glitch. :D

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16:25 May-18-2013

To be honest i don't know for what kind of AI prob. are you talking about, i have complete the game 2 times so far (Hardcore mode and ranger mode) and i haven't encounter any AI prob. at all.

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01:32 May-21-2013

There is NO AI problems at all in this game.

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11:07 May-21-2013

Yeah poor AI doesn't mean there are issues :P

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20:13 May-16-2013

i am stuck in the theater, there is a bug and the guy who we must follow is just freezes and nothing ..
is there a patch for it ?

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23:50 May-16-2013

It might be a glitch, try reloading the last autosave or reload the whole level/chapter.

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23:54 May-16-2013

yup i replayed the mission couple of times and that did it.
tnx anyway

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19:43 May-16-2013

All the reviews for Last Light, even at the kiddie sites, have been well written and well-thought out, including this one from Squee. It's clear that most people who will buy this game are adults and people who are fans of the novels and thus, the reviews are written with them in mind. This isn't a game that immature little CoD fanboys will buy and I applaud the developers for making a mature FPS that may not sell big numbers but proves the point that video games can be seen as art.

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23:52 May-16-2013

And when you read this article and see what kind of troubles the studio had during the development... It makes you appreciate the game even more. At least I do.

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16:24 May-16-2013

Ah.....damn ! I hated Metro 2033....it sucks....and if this is the same as that with better graphics then I will not play it :D Maybe I will sometime!

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14:23 May-18-2013

This game doesn't suck...Don't listen to reviews get the game and see for self how awesome it really is!

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13:57 May-16-2013

Is the game affected by choices?

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23:27 May-17-2013

no, i think. there is not big choices in the game.

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13:47 May-16-2013

Excellent review!
I'll wait for the price to drop a bit before I purchase this (still haven't completed 2033 plus I'm sure they'll patch the game) ;)

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13:56 May-16-2013

You dint play metro 2033?...Oh and did u buy it or got it for free(metro 2033)....

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11:37 May-17-2013

I haven't completed 2033 either.
The library creeps me out.

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12:39 May-17-2013

Yeah same, hate librarians (though I've completed it) :P

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14:36 May-17-2013

You can sneak around the librarians if you're careful enough. And depending on the difficulty you're playing, they can be taken down with a few rounds from shotgun. Aiming to the head, of course.

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14:58 May-17-2013

Yeah....My favorite saying of the olden days..."AIM FOR THEIR HEEEAAAADSSSS!!"

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17:29 May-17-2013

I killed all the librarians by using the pressure gun or pneumatic gun
= I don't know how to spell it :p

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17:51 May-17-2013

You're correct :P
I prefer shotgun or long barrel revolver... or knife :P

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13:16 May-16-2013

I think it will lag on my pc.....But i might think of buying it after the release of SR4....and BATMAN!!!.....Nice review bro!....You forgot to mention the 'Wipe the gas mask after falling in a puddle or after kill an enemy at close range'....or did I miss it?

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10:08 May-16-2013

I'm confused whether to buy it or not. I was waiting for this one for a long time, but it seems that the game has issues with AMD GPUs, so.... I'm confused whether to buy it or skip it.... thoughts ?

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11:15 May-16-2013

[Comment adjusted - Please do not recommend that here. Thanks]. I finished it half an hour ago and I don't regret paying for it. As for technical difficulties, read THIS article and you should have a smooth playing experience until some patch arrives. Trust me, it worked for me.

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12:19 May-16-2013

Is there any drastic difference b/w DX9 and DX11 ?

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15:45 May-16-2013

Yes, there is quite a big difference, and for you, it will definitely be worth changing to dx9, in fact every AMD GPU user, including 7970's should use dx9 to get better performance... for now, until AMD/4A release patches and driver updates.

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16:38 May-16-2013

There is patch will be live on steam in some time, but it fixes the shadow bug in 7xxx series and just adds the options of DX9 and FOV.
There was no mention that performance will increase in DX11 mode...

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12:30 May-16-2013

Do not buy until they realese patch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hS6CiCxf3E

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12:36 May-16-2013

Oh my holy tomatoes! They ruined the game for AMD users....
I will until they release a patch... if they ever will...

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12:44 May-16-2013

The game is generally awesome great story and the atmosphere is great. The graphics is awesome but unfortunately they fu*k up the whole game with those bugs.
You can take a look at the rest of videos on the surface is not so many bugs :)

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08:23 May-16-2013

Haven't completed the game yet, but so far I agree with everything. Great story, great visuals, awesome music and very good atmosphere. On the downside, bad optimization for AMD cards (although that can be taken care of by tweaking the user.cfg file), and literally blind AI. Fortunately, that can be fixed with one patch 9/10 from me.

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