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If ever there was a sequel to cast even more spotlight on its predecessor’s high points while greatly improving on the original titles flaws, Metro Last Light would be at the top of the list for the most improved follow up in years. Boasting an exceptional story-driven experience while immersing players into an unbelievable atmosphere of survival and despair, this new post-apocalyptic Russian tale feels uniquely original.

Players once again fill the boots of Artyom, who for most of his existence has lived in civilizations new reality underground in the Metro. Following the events of Metro 2033, we find our savior psychologically scared from his run in with the Dark Ones who as far as anyone can tell were completely vaporized due to the optional lead up conclusion of Metro 2033. Making a conclusive statement early on with all conviction, it seems developer 4A Games listened to every bit of constructive criticism in an effort to create the best experience possible with ‘Last Light’ and the end result delivers an unforgettable journey you just can’t miss.

7662139448_cfc4a2ae7c_bThroughout Artyom’s new journey players are constantly reminded of the frailties of life holding man’s existence in the balance. Death is all around him as you traverse the dreary decay of corpses throughout the tunnels of the Metro. One could only imagine the unbearable and constant smells of carnage and bodily waste assertively surveying the steel and concrete walls of the Metro and if that wasn’t enough, breaking the surface presented an altogether new adversary where clean oxygen is a hard to come by luxury. For Last Light while the need of acquiring a new air filter is key to survival on the surface, players can now fully take in the vast layout of the once inhabited land filled with life and busy streets now only a vaporized memory and contaminated wasteland which in all of its ugliness is a foreboding and beautiful canvas.

Last Light wastes no time thrusting Artyom back in the trenches, now a ranger with the ability to handle himself in the most bizarre of situations, his aims to is to not only prove himself to his fellow comrades but more importantly help maintain as best as possible, a sustainable life for all inhabiting the vast Metro. Now with intel that all the Dark Ones are not fully extinguished Artyom is tasked with finally ending it for good. In an attempt to rid man of what is considered the ultimate threat, Artyom’s discoveries reveal an unsuspecting threat to man’s existence. Uncovering these truths Artyom’s journey is filled with skirmishes, shootouts, action and a nice dose of stealth scenarios offering the ingredience of a well balanced affair allowing players to engage many situations at their discretion.

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Metro Last Light is not a flawless game technically as there are brief hiccups along the way in the form of some freezing, but nothing that harms the experience from being a great ride. Making up for this, developer 4A Games has created a believable universe within the colonies of the Metro and intimidating surfaces of Moscow. NPC’s go about their normal lives as best they can in organic fashion. Walk up to people within the Metro and full length conversations are heard with clarity. Many of these dialogues are quite informative intriguing you to listen to the many exploits and heart aches of their lives. One in particular was a conversation a man was having with his daughter who was pestering him about being hungry as he was fishing within the dirty waters of the Metro in order to feed his family. By stopping to listen to the entire exchange of the man and daughter you find out that the water was once highly contaminated with radiation leading to the death of the man’s wife. Walk up close to the people in the Metro and you find conviction in their eyes of struggle or sometimes unseen hope as though there is light at the end of their current states dark tunnel.

7662139780_78afa450a0_bWhile Last light is filled with innumerable enhancements over its predecessor, one that clearly stands out is the games visual and technical achievements. Metro Last Light is not the prettiest game we’ve seen graphically and it certainly isn’t trying to be. Pretty visuals are not relevant in this universe of striking despair. While I mentioned earlier that Last Light was not technically perfect, it just does so many things right. Walk down the tunnels of the Metro and at any moment rats and other mutated creatures scurry past you realistically bumping into human remains, thick cob-webs blur your vision forcing you to burn them with your lighter sometimes revealing new discoveries, textures are solid throughout with no texture pops-ins and for good measure 4A Games has saturated Last Light with tension building ambient sounds adding to the experience.

In addition, the gunplay is now most satisfying, a massive leap over Metro 2033. Players can easily distinguish between weapons and their destructive advantages on the battlefield or should I say catacombs of the Metro. All of the weapons you’ll find and acquire are most familiar as they are make-shift concepts from the glory days before the Metro was home. Of course the standard issued AK47 is completely intact as you’ve always know it to be however, other weapons like the P90, single, double or quad-barrel shotgun some with semi-auto action along with what would be an SMG along with other weapons are but a glimpse of their former selves visually yet completely get the job done with that business as usual attitude.

Properly utilizing these death dealers makes all the difference in firefights as Last Light is no slouch in the AI department. Even though completing the game on the normal difficulty is most satisfying, I do recommend going at it on hardcore mode as the improvement of the experience is not just found in Artyom becoming less immune to bullet fire, but the AI just become more intelligent and exciting as you are confronted an outnumbered by different Metro factions vying for military position. Keeping with the true nature of engaging the enemy AI in stealth, when the odds are stacked against you which is a common occurrence, Artyom can hide in the shadows by unscrewing light bulbs and blowing out candles.

Equipped with not only silenced side arms players can also modify assault rifles with silencers. Nevertheless, staying in the shadows quietly dispatching enemies with your trusty throwing knives or takedown melee maneuvers is a real treat, although I would have liked more variety in the melee department. As an indicator, Artyom has a watch which doubles as an oxygen meter as well as an enemy indicator which counts down your gas tanks gauge. The watch will beep making you aware that your air is low and needs to be replaced in addition to flashing blue indicating that you are in view of a nearby enemy.

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Rules of engaging in Last Light keeps players on their toes as battles with enemy soldiers is quite different from battling all the creatures found on your journey. From Lycan like beast charging you from all sides to the murky depths of the surface spitting out all forms of mutated organisms aimed at finishing you off, Artyom’s foes come in all shapes and sizes. Pesky flying beasts have no problem circling you for just the right moment to grab you straight up into the air leaving you completely vulnerable and dropping you in hopes of leaving you as yet another countless human victim. Championing these encounters only to be introduced to newer scenarios within this well told story made it hard to put the controller down.

Last Light is a refreshing new experience propelling players into an interactive world where atmosphere and storytelling are the true highlights of the show. The voice acting is spot on with skillfully placed character interaction and believable facial expressions. Artyom’s diary is included adding a great touch by further keeping players engaged in the story and revealing to the player thoughts of Artyom along this impossible journey. Metro Last Light takes player on a challenging quest of survival, redemption and ultimately sacrifice boldly enhancing the post-apocalyptic shooter experience for the better.

Metro