What an exhausting road it has been reviewing each piece of Metro: Last Light DLC, but with the Chronicles Pack now available for purchase, 4A Games brings the release of season pass add-ons to an end. It would appear, however, that the developers have simply gone through the motions here, separating gameplay into mundane sessions of exploration, stealth, and frenzied shooting yet again. I use “mundane” lightly, of course, as the Chronicles Pack contains Metro’s best-in-class ambiance, and the emphasis on less hollow secondary characters like Pavel, Khan, and Anna commemorates these bonus missions as the definitive (and least buggy) Last Light DLC.
Pavel’s chapter begins some unspecified time after his battle with Artyom, where humanity’s voiceless savior spared the Russian commander. But Pavel cannot stay out of trouble for long. Captured by Nazis or independent mercenaries (which remains unclear), the major improvises an escape after burying a syringe into his interrogator’s neck. Now alone and weaponless in a militant sector of the station Venice, Pavel must loot supplies from occupied guards.
Pavel starts his breakout with zilch, nada, nothing. But patient players can stockpile a respectable arsenal by the end.
The clear inclination towards stealth (shooting light bulbs, waiting in shadows, etc.) illustrates Last Light’s appeal better than the other two missions, though players may open fire on their kidnappers at any time ‒ branching paths let Pavel flank soldiers, who frequently find eternal sleep at the mercy of silenced weapons. The conclusion allows gamers to browse Venice's market/services as well. Have your fortune told, enjoy a private dance, or eavesdrop on citizens before retreating to the Red Line. I would have gladly paid $4.99 for an extra hour-long glimpse into Pavel’s origins, but as soon as the mission settles into a comfortable rhythm of sneaking and sightseeing, it ends.
Rather, Khan’s mission gets the cryptic backstory treatment. After his transportation came to an explosive stop following Last Light’s train sequence, Khan rendezvoused with Uhlman for a shared dose of the supernatural. Haunted by anomalies, ghosts, and thousands of flesh-eating rats, efforts to avoid the paranormal put me on the edge of my seat while filling in the blanks about Khan's past, revealing mistakes the mysterious Ranger made as a young station recruit and the regrets with which he now lives. Khan's demons make him pitiable character; Anna, not so much.
Rats, why did it have to be rats?!
After two otherwise exceptional episodes (given Last Light’s DLC reputation), Anna’s assignment remains the most throwaway of the bunch. Players provide covering fire for Artyom during Last Light’s prologue, assisting the hero in his hunt for the sole surviving Dark One. That sounds more exciting on paper. Anna’s bodyguard duties barely last ten minutes, and your objective requires little interaction beyond peering through a rifle’s scope and squeezing the trigger.
So it ends, not with a cliché whimper, but with an above-average boom. As with Last Light proper, the DLC has been a source of pratfalls and titillating surprises, both of technical achievements and defects. The Chronicles Pack finally revives Artyom’s companions instead of some no-name nobodies, though they still seem a tad underdeveloped (a curse of each chapter’s truncated length) behind their weapon stocks. Speaking of the season pass as a whole, however, few of the missions (the Faction Pack’s scavenger hunt, the Developer Pack’s Spider Lair, etc.) will leave a lasting effect, but those that do will be discussed by Metro fans for months to come.
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3