Metro Last Light Redux Review: Next-Gen Remastering Extends The Post-Apocalyptic Adventure

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Sep 22, 2014 08:29 PM EDT
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Having released just last year, Metro: Last Light does not inherently benefit from a remastering as much as its predecessor, Metro 2033. Nonetheless, the game has been remade as one half of Metro Redux, and does gain improved resolution and framerate on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One--this is the best version of the title on consoles to date.

We've already posted our review of Metro 2033 Redux, which is enhanced hugely by both the graphical upgrade and introduction of features borrowed from its sequel. Below is our review of the remastered Metro: Last Light Redux.

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The plot of Metro: Last Light picks up where Metro 2033 left off, again placing you in the shoes of Artyom following the world-changing events of the first game. The title benefits from the structure of Redux--it feels more like playing through one long story, with Last Light a continuation of the events that took place in 2033, rather than two separate games. The fact that the features and graphics are now shared evenly across the titles only enhances this feeling, and the Metro experience is better for it. There isn't much need to detail the specifics again: everything great about the well-crafted atmosphere and enjoyable gameplay of 2033 Redux holds true in Last Light, and that alone makes it worth playing.

Our Metro 2033 Redux review also does plenty to extoll the virtues of the remake, so suffice to say the same upgrades (both visual and gameplay-wise) are present here. Weapon customization and other features were already originally part of Metro: Last Light, so while the improvements are not as numerous, the game still looks and plays better than it ever has on consoles.

The Spartan setting (as opposed to the Survival mode, both selectable at the start of each Redux title) is meant to mimic the more action-based gameplay of Last Light and provide more plentiful resources. While this didn't seem to play out much differently than Survival at first, there were many more mask filters and plenty of ammo on hand in the later stages of the game. Without playing through the game again in its entirety on Survival, it's difficult to say if this was down mainly to Spartan mode or Last Light itself, but resource management was definitely not as much of an issue. The same mechanics are all still present, though, and you'll enjoy finding a spare filter or some ammo regardless of whether or not you're in dire need. Military grade ammunition is still used as currency, and will mostly go towards purchasing a supply of regular ammo.

Where Last Light differentiates itself most from 2033 is the story, for better and worse. My main complaint with 2033 is the narrative, which was fairly simple but lacked an overarching focus or end goal until very late on. 4A Games wrote a much more complicated and detailed plot for Last Light, but more does not always translate to better. The supernatural side of Metro rears its head early, introducing a child Dark One as an essential plot figure. The game quickly shifts to a political focus, however, with the competing factions involved in the first game taking center stage as you move through the chapters. The Nazis and Reds each have their own sinister plan, with you and the Polis Rangers caught in the middle.

There is a more human element to the story, with characters relating more specifically to Artyom rather than only the world at large. You'll be befriended, betrayed, and even have a romantic interest this time around, which are welcome additions in comparison to the way your silent protagonist was passed around in the first game. Artyom still doesn't speak while the player is watching, which makes you wonder how anyone really relates to him, but these associations give you an increased sense of involvement in the world's affairs.

It's worth noting that just as I began to realize there had been very few female characters--none of them important to the story or part of the fighting force--the first is introduced as part of the plot. Unfortunately, it appears she is included almost solely to act as a romantic interest for Artyom. She's part of the Rangers and fights, yes, but making the only notable female character introduced in either game the object of your character's desires comes off as cheap.

As for the rest of the plot, events become more complicated than they need to be. Following the general storyline is not difficult, but there are details and nuances introduced only in the between-chapter loading screens or hidden diary entries (scattered around different levels) that fully explain the story. The loading screen narration got longer and longer as the plot needed more out-of-game explanation, and some very important plot points were found only in hidden diary entries.

What begins as a focused and tense few chapters spins out into something much more complicated and ill-explained involving double-crossers, political puppets, and supernatural entanglements. It's odd that essential segments of the narrative could be missed entirely if you didn't come across certain diary entries, and the structure of the story-telling is messy and unfocused. It's easy to appreciate that more is happening in Last Light than Metro 2033, and the general plot is interesting, but it's not delivered in a satisfactory manner.

The involvement of the Dark One makes things even harder to swallow, as a lot of the supernatural elements feel campy and out of place. I was never fully invested in that aspect of the story as it doesn't feel believable within Metro's universe, and I grimaced through most of those segments. You can see what the developers are going for, and the Dark One's involvement ties the two games together somewhat, but it never quite feels right. A particular underground sewer system that can somehow help you see the future is among the strangest portions--you'll likely raise a few eyebrows throughout your time with Metro: Last Light Redux.

That said, the big plot events throughout the game and the bombastic finale are memorable, and served as intense and enjoyable moments. There are even two endings, which helps explain the somewhat abrupt and disappointing more common conclusion. The other is much more difficult to achieve, and hinges on certain actions and decisions you make through your journey, but is certainly more satisfying.

This review focuses mainly on the narrative's issues, but that does not imply Last Light is a poor game. Rather, it's a byproduct of already having praised the core of Metro: Last Light Redux in the Metro 2033 Redux review: the majority of the well-designed gameplay, attractive visuals, gritty settings, and solid mechanics are the same in both titles. The stories are simply the biggest differences between the two, and examining Last Light's narrative was the most worthwhile endeavor that avoided redundancy--but its problems do not overshadow the fantastic game.

Metro: Last Light Redux is more or less an extension of Metro 2033 Redux, the two forming one longer tale now repackaged together as a fantastic-looking, enjoyable game. The two now offer a unified experience and feature parity on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One--this is undoubtedly the best way to experience the pair of titles. Even if you've played both of the original titles on PC, the Redux versions are easy to recommend, especially since the games themselves are great enough to warrant another playthrough. Last Light's plot may be too complex for its own good, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying a fundamentally sound and immersive experience.

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Metro Redux is an HD remake of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Metro 2033 released in 2010 for Xbox 360 and PC, while Last Light launched in 2013 for PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PS3. The remastered games are available to purchase together on PSN, Xbox Live, and PC digital stores as Metro Redux for $49.99, or separately as individual titles. The product was reviewed on PS4 using a download code provided by publisher Deep Silver.

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