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S&S Review: Metro: Last Light

Title: Metro: Last Light
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M

Metro: Last Light is the sequel to the post-apocalyptic FPS, Metro: 2033, and it improves upon an already solid foundation.  The sequel ended up being one the most visually stunning games I've ever played, and also one of the most remarkable.

Story and Presentation:
Metro: Last Light is a direct follow up to Metro 2033, so if you played the first game, then the story will be pretty familiar to you.  These games follow the Metro universe created by author Dmitry Glukhovsky, but the game doesn't really follow the books narrative, so if you haven't read the books, you won't be missing out on anything.  The game follows the story of a post apocalyptic Russia, after a nuclear holocaust swept across the country.  Years have passed since the original events, and everyone is now packed into the underground tunnels and caverns.  You're cast as a Ranger named Artyom, the same protagonist from Metro 2033.  He and his group of Rangers are thrown into this world, and the game's aesthetic will quickly draw you in, and it won't let go.  This is probably one of the best looking games to date, especially if you can play it on a great PC.  I got to see the game on both the PS3 and PC, and even though the PS3 version looked great, the PC version really blew it out the water in terms of the visuals.  If you got a strong enough rig, definitely play the PC version, the devastated environments will constantly leave you in awe.  The game also has a ton of detail, especially in the NPC's.  You can literally spend hours just observing the dozens NPC's around you, listening and learning about their stories.  The music is superb, a good mix of melancholic tunes that will force you to feel something for these troubled characters.  The presentation is top notch, inside and out.
Core Gameplay: 
Metro: Last Light is a pure first person shooter at it's heart, but the fact that the atmosphere is so strong in the game, it can even pass as a horror game as well.  The gameplay is solid, but it just doesn't match up to the game's presentation.  There isn't a ton of action in the game, in fact, there are a ton of scenarios where you'll want to take the more stealthy approach.  Especially if you're on the harder difficultly settings, the game can get pretty challenging if you want to go in guns-blazing for each encounter.  The A.I. can easily be manipulated by the environments, unscrewing light bulbs and blowing out oil lamps can throw your enemy off their game, and give you the upper hand.  When you come across the mutated creatures in Metro, there is no stealth option.  You have to shoot your way through those encounters, and it ends up being a lot of fun to do.  When you're not out shooting at Russian soldiers and mutants, there are a lot of shops to visit to purchase shops to purchase weapons, explosives, and other gear for Artyom.  You can also upgrade your various weapons.  The vending systems feel a little underused at times, but it's still nice to have.
Final Thoughts: 
Metro: Last Light is a visually stunning game to play, and only if the gameplay matched the presentation, this game could've easily been considered as a GOTY contender.  If you have the option, definitely play the PC version.  Even if you don't have a PC, the console versions are still a blast to play.
S&S Rating: 8.5/10