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Metro: Last Light Review

The ruins of the surface are stunning and almost eerily beautiful in their own way; Artyom looks over the phantom city of Moscow, trying to remember life before the war.

Metro: Last Light possesses a remarkable myriad of unique features that establish it as one of the most intriguing and immersing video games in years. The game seamlessly blends that traditional post-apocalyptic feel with realistic geo-political themes to deliver an experience that is unlike anything on the market today.

Deep Silver's sequel retains the signature dark style found in the previous release, incorporating a true sense of human drama in a story that unfolds as players progress, offering a startling look into a world where war has vanquished nearly all hope for survival.

The game's environments are also a unique feature, as the game takes players through countless memorable and incredibly detailed areas. From the heart of the shadowy Metro to the surface where empty, destroyed skyscrapers and broken buildings tower in the grey clouds like silent witnesses to the nuclear holocaust. The game emphasizes the metamorphosis of a world that's been shaped by war, and how deeply the changes affect everyday life of the last bastion of humanity.

Gamers will traverse a medley of unique stations, environments and areas that each have their own defining features and moments, making every new mission exciting and entertaining.

Much of the Metro's populace live in various underground stations that are bustling with a life of their own.

The underground tunnels are inhabited by thousands of survivors–from everyday people and civilians to Rangers, soldiers and bandits committing unsavory deeds–that make up many of the game's significant and prominent regions.

Players will come across diverse populated stations throughout the Metro like the subterranean Venice, which houses some of the most nefarious gangsters but also a civilization of fisherman and merchants who call their wares within the shops. Venice also has its own brothel, where players can even pay for a lap dance (or three) as well as a shooting range where you can practice on your marksman skills and earn some extra ammo.

The Bolshoi Theater is another noteworthy area featured in Metro: Last Light's campaign; inspired by the real theater in Moscow (which is rumored to be just above the station itself), the Bolshoi station puts on nightly variety shows for its denizens that include musical performances, comedy acts, daredevil fire shows, and even a burlesque dance with some of the more prominently built women of the station.

The environments are also defined by their characters, many of which are unique and remarkable in their own ways. At the Ranger's HQ at D6 Colonel Miller's tough-as-nails daughter, Anna, is quite entertaining, as she always refers to Artyom (who's gone down in Ranger history as a legend) as a "rabbit".

In Venice, there's Fedor, the fisherman who saved Artyom's life by tossing a metal box full of pipe bombs at shrimps, causing a tumultuous tidal wave that wracked the motorboat something fierce.. And who could forget Pavel, that charming scoundrel who is actually one of the most nefarious of them all, right next to General Korbut of the Red Line–whose dastardly deeds threaten to wipe out the Order itself.

Pavel, the two-faced "comrade" that helped Artyom escape Reich prisons, is a prime example as to how the cast of characters defines the game.

All of these characters and unique environments blend together to create a series of fully fleshed cities and remarkably detailed areas to explore, providing a veritable feast for the senses that delights and entertains. It is these moments where the game shines and separates itself from the humdrum of FPS games out there, especially in its usage of symbolic overtones and themes.

Metro: Last Light paints a picture of a fractured world that's nearly drowned in destruction, and the ominous soundtrack coupled with a plethora of symbolic visuals depict a shattered world through the visor of a gas-mask–a world whose very wind is poison, and its water is infected with volatile radiation. The visuals are awe-inspiring and somewhat beautiful in their stark bleakness, showing the aftermath of a war whose affects are still going strong even after two decades.

The marshes are intimidating and are dominated by many different monstrosities that stalk the foul, irradiated waters.

Black clouds block the steely gray skies, and the very atmosphere itself–which once offered life-giving air–now brings death and suffering. The sun is a disc of cold white light, and the wind carries songs of desolation and doom; virulent zephyrs that instill a deep sense of corruption and blackness. The surface is now a wasteland as far as the eye can see, with fractured cities and landscapes riven and torn with destruction.

This is a world haunted with the souls of the dead, and the surface is like a giant open grey crypt soiled with the bones of millions. The open environment cripples morale, and to survive its hallowed ground, one must face creatures twisted by the rampant radiation that stalk the surface.

This scene that depicts Reich soldiers hailing their Fuhrer is shockingly close to the events of our own history.

Apart from the dramatic overtones, Metro: Last Light's emphasis on geo-political intrigue is also quite unique and offers key insights into Glukhovsky's work.

The various powers rule their respective territories and stations in the Metro, from the German Reich that's hell bent on "purifying" humanity of mutants to the Red Line's fervent Communism, and the Order's ardent and stoic station as the protectors of the land.

After the Order attained D6, all bets were off and all past treaties between the factions were forfeit: envy had contorted the remaining powers, setting them against one another to further their own causes.

The factions have caused a rift in the society of the Metro, and refugees flee from each province on a daily basis, showing that the heart of Metro: Last Light's story isn't in the game's action-oriented combat but within the human drama that it captures.

The political themes add a deeper sense of human realism to the game, blending in overtones that aren't usually found in a FPS title. Not only does the game perfectly capture the plight and struggles of humanity as they cope in a dying world, but it also adequately portrays the desperation of men for power in trying times, painting an eerily perfect picture whose symbolism is all too apparent.

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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