Metro: Last Light ReviewGuest_Jim_* - June 6, 2013
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Metro: Last Light - Story (95% spoiler free)
Yeah, this is not going to be as spoiler free as the story sections for previous game reviews because the best way to discuss this story, is to describe parts of it. Fortunately there are so many ancillary parts to it that nothing major will be revealed by the examples I use.
As stated in the introduction, Last Light is only inspired by the novels of Dmitry Glukhovsky, and is not directly based on the story of Metro 2034, the sequel to Metro 2033, the novel. The game's story is a direct sequel from Metro 2033, the game, as you continue to play as Artyom, the protagonist of the earlier title. Though the only information I have seen gives Last Light a temporal setting of 2034, I believe it is actually just months after the events of 2033. The situation of the metro does not seem to have changed enough for a full year to have passed, and the change in seasons suggest to me that fewer than 12 months have gone by. When on the surface in 2033, you would see snow falling and covering some of Moscow, suggesting it was winter, but in Last Light you see plants covering much of the landscape, as though it were spring.
Anyone who played 2033 would remember that it had two endings, and choices you made earlier determined which ending you received. The good ending had you spare the Dark Ones, while the bad ending had you send a group of missiles at their home. The canonical ending is the bad one, so that is the situation in Last Light.
Very early on in the game (so I question calling it a spoiler) you learn that at least one Dark One survived the attack. Throughout most of the game, your primary mission is to retrieve it, especially as you are the only known human able to withstand their telepathic abilities. While this is your long-term goal, you very often have short-term goals you must achieve first, such as escaping from the Reich, one of the larger powers in the metro.
While hunting the Dark One, you reflect on what you have learned about it from both games and start to question your orders to kill it. As was revealed in 2033, you have the ability to communicate with these creatures and in fact it was their attempts to communicate with other humans, which led to their deaths, that made them appear to be a threat. As it turns out though, they never intended any harm to humanity.
Another reason you have to debate killing the creature is how the other powers of the metro treat it. The Reich, being a descendent of the WWII Nazis, seek to destroy all mutated humans (and the depiction of this in the game is actually somewhat accurate to real accounts from the war) so they would likely kill it. You see the Nazis as destructive and evil though, given their propensity to exterminate humans, so if what you do aligns with them, is it right? The Reds, the communist power of the metro, on the other hand would instead wield the Dark One as a weapon to enslave other humans. Other groups want to use it as a sideshow attraction.
Speaking of sideshows, one of the stations you visit in Last Light actually has a theater and what actors remain from before humanity was driven below the surface. Do not expect Russian epics on the stage though. Instead the entertainment is a chorus line of scantily clad women, a 'trained' mutant show, and some musical performers. If you miss the women and wish you had not, do not worry, you actually have to go through their dressing room to proceed. Also, later in the game you enter a brothel with more content earning this game its M rating from the ESRB. And then there is the mostly off-camera sex scene still later in the game.
It may seem odd that I am bringing these more mature aspects of the story up, especially since I am not including the most explicit screenshots, but they actually allow me to best explain what I feel the differences are between the story of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. The first game had, in my opinion, a much more urgent story where you wanted to reach the end to save humanity. This game's story never felt that way to me. The urgency was restricted more to specific moments than the overall experience, but that is not a bad thing. This lack of urgency enables you to explore the world more. If both games were metro tunnels, 2033 was like an express train, with fewer stops between its beginning and end, while Last Light is the regular commuter that takes longer, but lets more on, such as the nudity and sex, and much, much more. (There is actually an achievement for reuniting a child with his teddy bear, and you are a monster if you do not get it.)
Personally, I believe this is good for first sequels. The first game/movie/story should be more urgent and driven, as it introduces you to a world you may not normally be interested in. The next time you enter the world though, you are interested in it and will want to explore it more, which requires a less urgent story. The best way to experience this story is to stop and take it all in. You miss more than just a moment if you do not listen as an adult entertains children with shadow puppets of animals they have never seen, except on calendars and only heard of from their parents' stories.