Why Metro: Last Light is One of the Best Games I’ve Played this Generation
Earlier this year, Bioshock: Infinite dazzled the masses; its story was proclaimed as one of the best in the history of video games, its world was held in high esteem, as was the game overall, and critics and players alike looked past its faults and heaped on the praise. ‘Game of the year…no wait, of the generation!,’ some claimed. While I enjoyed the game, (although I do feel Infinite peaks in the first few hours, with the middle being rather average and the ending decent) I found myself being blown away by another title: Metro: Last Light. It left me in awe, and not just because it’s utterly beautiful, either.
Metro 2033 impressed me greatly with its depressing atmosphere and sense of hopelessness for humanity. I found a strange enjoyment in exploring the Metros and seeing how everyday life was a struggle. The game was by no means perfect, of course, but it was one of the most compelling games I have played this generation. However, if truth be told, I did not expect the follow up to be a greater game, so as such, Last Light surprised me–shocked, even–at how good it was.
Last Light features possibly the most realistic apocalyptic setting in modern video games, with some of the most subtle depressing moments I’ve ever experienced in a game. For example, if the player takes their time to soak in the sights, sounds and conversations of the Metro, they will be exposed to some truly heartbreaking tales, for it’s within the dialogue of the children (keep an eye out for an old man performing shadow puppets for the surrounding children) that the most depressing things can be heard. The adults of the game have adjusted to the harsh new world; the children, however, know nothing different. It gives Last Light‘s universe a sense of life rather than just a background for the story to take place in.
The story plays host to two elements of video games that are often hard to pull off effectively: betrayal and redemption. There’s one character within Last Light that becomes instantly likeable and endearing, whose personality shines throughout the time the player spends with them, their quick wit and maverick attitude being the character’s chief traits–and then they (using the word ‘they’ to try and avoid spoilers, be it a rather early game spoiler) betray you, and it’s genuinely disappointing. When I say ‘disappointing’, I’m not talking about the plot twist–it’s more a genuine sense this character has turned on you. It’s a rare case in which a betrayal actually has impact on the player rather than jus
Last Light‘s story has a major theme of redemption running throughout it, which comes into play heavily towards the end of the campaign, and that theme is played up extremely well. The game assumes players chose the ‘bad’ ending in the original Metro, thus putting a lot of blood on the player’s hands and making the redemption more heartfelt. There’s a genuine sense of guilt bestowed on the player, and it’s almost to the point where the player feels like they are, in fact, the villain. It’s because of this that, depending on the player’s actions, the ‘good’ ending delivers a true sense of redemption. It’s an ending that genuinely feels well-rounded and well thought out, with no more questions or ifs and buts–just a great ending that leaves the player feeling optimistic about the world of Metro.
Away from the previously mentioned elements, Last Light has a lot to admire: it’s one of the most beautiful games on the market; the game’s engine allows for some stunning imagery to be presented before the player; the Metros are a utter joy to behold (above the ground there are plenty of times I found myself in awe at my surroundings); the audio is utterly fantastic; and gameplay-wise, Last Light is smooth and enjoyable, allowing the overall experience to be constantly enjoyable.
Last Light never becomes repetitive or prolonged; it’s a well-paced experience that takes the player on a true journey. The set pieces are nothing short of epic, the horror sections of the game are truly nerve racking, the story is compelling, and it’s simply a great game. The only real negative I can think of is ‘Ranger mode’ being sold as DLC, which is a great shame. Nevertheless, Metro: Last Light is nothing short of amazing. I can honestly say this is one of the best games I’ve played this generation, and my only hope is that it gets the love it deserves. Though I fear that in the grand scheme of things, Last Light will be forgotten about in favour of Bioshock: Infinite, the people’s darling…and that’s a great shame.