Easter Eggs: Metro Last Light

By Andrew Ogley, 4 years ago
Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
This week's title may well raise a few eyebrows; the game is not particularly old, nor is it one that might have slipped under the radar, but it is (in terms of quality) woefully underplayed. Metro: Last Light, was the sequel to the well received but generally flawed masterpiece, Metro 2033. Whilst the first title managed to attract over 30,000 gamers from our community, only half that number decided to brave the dark and treacherous tunnels and revisit the Moscow metro. For whatever reason, those that declined missed out on a rare treat as developer 4A Games listened to the community, fixed the flaws in the first title and produced a game that was deeper, sombre, and much more mature. Despite the title's name, there was nothing light in this dark and grim title, and those who took on role of the Ranger re-entered a world that they would not quickly forget.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For those who missed out on both Metro 2033 & Metro: Last Light, the pair are being remastered for the Xbox One into one package, Metro Redux. The remastered bundle is set for release at the end of this month.
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The Basics
For storytelling's sake, the title assumes that the player took a specific course of action and triggered a sequence of irrevocable but regrettable events at the end of the first title. With the sequel starting only a short time after the original game, the player reprises the role of Artyom, who is wracked with guilt and still struggling to come to terms with the consequences of his decision. Despite this, he has become a fully fledged Ranger in the bunker of D6, and is one of the group committed to defending the well-stocked and well-provisioned community. In an early twist to the game, the player discovers that Artyom's attempt to make the alien lifeforms known as the Dark Ones extinct was not as a successful as originally thought and a living specimen has been spotted on the surface. Artyom is then sent to kill the loan survivor and effectively complete the previous mission, but it turns out to be a child of the species and whilst the player hesitates, the alien is captured by soldiers of the Fourth Reich.

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Thus begins a complicated yet cleverly woven story featuring a multitude of different themes, including betrayal, conspiracy, greed, love, loyalty, and to a certain degree, absolution. We discover Artyom's connection to the Dark Ones, and we see the relationship develop with the 'little one' that he is trying to save from a fate worse than that suffered by the rest of his race. Around this story, a further tale is entwined, as D6 has become the target of the warmongering factions who want to capture their firepower. This whole tale is played out in the brutal, gritty, and somber atmosphere of metro tunnels, stations, and environs. None of which are particularly pleasant or welcoming, not even to an experienced Ranger.

The Hook
As opposed to a number of previous games where the hook was a single outstanding element, Metro: Last Light's hook is a little more subtle; a combination of elements that make the whole greater than just the sum of the parts. This sum makes for an extremely deep level of immersion. The clunky interface, the dodgy AI, and a number of other criticisms of the previous title that broke the fourth wall have all been fixed. This is a game in which the developers want you to feel deeply involved with, they want you to feel part of it, and despite the world not being the most friendly or welcoming, it is done so well, you feel irrevocably drawn in. It's a grim world and yet in a very short time, you feel that you really belong there.

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A lot of this is achieved by the amazing work that the team have done on the developing the atmosphere within the game. The graphics and the environments bring the subterranean world vividly to life despite the darkness of the overall setting. The soundscapes enhance this feeling further, from the hubbub of the small communities, to oppressive near silence of the metro tunnels, through to the disturbing and chilling howls and growls of the Metro's more sinister occupants. Working your way through one of the tunnels, listening to the gentle breeze, the dripping of water, only to suddenly hear something unnatural nearby is a genuinely unnerving experience. In certain parts, it is enough to make your skin crawl.

The immersion goes further, too, developing the feeling that although not quite on a knife edge, the world is at a tipping point and that there is fine balance between everything in the game. For every seemingly bright point, there is a counterpart that has darker side. Whilst the stations are beginning to recover and evolve into new societies and communities (rather than refugee camps), that bit of hope is countered by the fact that further down the Metro line there is a neo-Nazi faction called the Fourth Reich, and another communist based called the Red Line. The world above is starting to recover as well. The frozen wastes have thawed, leaving behind green marshes as nature and fresh life re-establishes itself. Again this is balanced by the evolution of new aquatic mutants not previously encountered. Even the clear bright skies are a deception, and despite appearances the clear, fresh air is as poisonous as it has ever been.

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Gameplay utilises this strange balancing act too. There is a choice between stealth and all guns blazing combat, but given that bullets remain in use as currency, the latter might not be the best choice. However, if you're wearing an air filter, lingering in stealth mode whilst your filter wears out is also not desirable. There's a fine line between risk and reward, too; a tunnel offshoot might seem tempting to explore for additional supplies, but given that you never know what you might encounter, the question hangs over you, is it worth the risk? The same question remains when an air filter is running low, and you wonder if you should explore further to see if another can be found, is it worth it?

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Keeping the player guessing, constantly juggling decisions, weighing up risks and rewards keeps the player keenly involved. Couple these elements with the atmosphere created by the sounds and visuals and intriguing storyline, and the game becomes deeply immersive, drawing the player ever deeper into its depths, even to a point of emotional involvement as they strive for absolution from Artyom's past.

Metro: Last Light brought the best out of the grim and dark setting. It's not a "fun" game. It's not a game that will have you a smiling. In fact most of the game will be played through a grimace. Despite it's grim nature, it remains a game with exceptional atmosphere and a level of immersion that is not found in many games in the genre.

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The Achievements
Last Light's achievements are pretty much standard for the genre, including story progression, combat, stealth gameplay, collectibles and an achievement for the different endings in the game. Completionists may want to be careful though as the title has a season pass with four additional DLC packs, all of which have new achievements. There is also the Ranger Mode DLC which will challenge the even the toughest of Metro's veterans.

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The Stats
Currently, around 14,504 TA'ers made the return the dark underground tunnels of the metro. Nearly, 10,000 gamers went on to finish the campaign in one way or the other representing roughly 71% of players who started the game.

The community have rated the game at 4.3 while Metacritic gave a score of 80, whilst Metacritic users gave it an 8.4. All consistently high scores.

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The Price
As with all of the Easter Eggs featured, it's always worth shopping around in your local stores to check out the prices. However, for those used to web shopping, Amazon UK has the game priced at £10.99. For those in North America, Amazon US is offering the game at $24.74.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Xbox One remastered bundle is available for pre-order from Amazon for less than $50 in the US and £29.86 in the UK.
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The Verdict
Metro: Last Light is a dark and brooding game with a sense of maturity not found in many games in the shooter genre. This darkness is not only attributed to the lack of light, there is a pervasive somber mood about the title. Throughout the campaign, there is an increasing feeling that the player is acting out of a sense of duty more than a call of duty; doing the right thing and making good on a previous wrong. Equally pervasive is the sense of foreboding and, despite there being two endings, there is an air of inevitability as the game winds towards its climax. Ultimately, it is the world of the Metro that draws you in; the immersion and the feeling of involvement in that world. That same world that seems full of opposites and strangely but finely balanced elements. Gritty, brutal, and terrifying as is it can be, it envelops you and makes you feel at home. The atmosphere is simply second to none.

There was a point in the Metro story where one of the characters describes the Metro as a living breathing beast, and that if you listened carefully enough you could hear it. Sitting in the dark with the lights off and the surround sound turned up, listening to the various ambient sounds and whispering breezes, there's a good chance that you will hear it too. The Metro has that effect on you.

If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Andrew Ogley
Written by Andrew Ogley
Andrew has been writing for TA since 2011 covering news, reviews and the occasional editorials and features. One of the grumpy old men of the team, his mid-life crisis has currently manifested itself in the form of an addiction to sim-racing - not being able to afford the real life car of his dreams. When not spending hours burning simulated rubber, he still likes to run around, shoot stuff and blow things up - in the virtual world only of course.