I cannot reiterate Metro: Last Light’s merits often enough: convincing characters, accessible stealth, atmospheric suspense – the list goes on. Even its trivial interactions, such as manually recharging flashlights and wiping gunk from gas masks, were all done in service of building a more believable, more putrid dystopia for players to immerse themselves in. The combat, or at least the way it’s presented in the Tower Pack, ruins that illusion.
I do love Last Light’s gunplay ... as a last resort. When confronted by a dozen armed guards, sneaking keeps you alive longer, conserves ammo, and creates tension as the myopic soldiers keep watch mere inches away – the very antithesis of the Tower Pack. A mix of wave-based challenge rooms, Last Light’s second post-launch content casts a light on the inferior shootouts from minute one. An injured captain has been enrolled in a virtual reality exercise to test its training capabilities against humans and beasts alike. While that may be the barest of story setups, the script is not the make-or-break deal here.
The pre-mission area shows what enemies you'll face next.
The firearms still kick like branded mules, but the combat in close quarters remains just as stubborn. To be blunt, it sucks garbage. Hot, rancid garbage. The captain has the resilience of plywood in a hurricane, and nosalises (the mutant dog-mole-creature things) have no trouble tearing him to shreds as he flails desperately with his pocket knife. Getting shot also causes recoil, throwing your aim off by meters. I died three times on the first mission, and five on the second before changing difficulties. The DLC is intolerably brutal. Even with pre-placed claymores strewn about the simulated environments, legions of mercenaries backed me into a corner awfully quick. Masochists might brute force their way to the final arena on Hardcore, yet the payoff is negligible.
The big emphasis is on leaderboards – harder difficulties promise higher ranks. The Tower Pack, however, only includes five missions. If you set the game to Easy, you can power through them in thirty minutes. At least players can select their weapons between missions. Also, eliminating enemies lets you buy ammo mid-wave, though you receive more money for headshots and multi-kills. I even felt a real duty to protect my AI comrades (who may be purchased), because they lose all sense of self-preservation when nosalises breach their personal space. I would still prefer a co-op mode; the misery of others might make some glitches more bearable.
Enemies open doors and cages for additional reinforcements.
Opponents blink out of existence, disappearing momentarily. They also fall straight through solid ground when shot – not killed, mind you – a real problem when players must kill every enemy to proceed. The game crashed no less than five times (once per mission), locking my PC in the process (I am shocked to have beaten every mission). The Tower Pack retains the idiotic one-save system across Last Light’s DLC and campaign as well, so new games erase all progress. You cannot replay missions, either. You must restart from the beginning, and honestly, I would not risk additional bugs.
Metro: Last Light could easily top my five favorite games of the year, whereas the DLC reveals one dilemma after another. I want 4A Games to succeed, for people to praise Metro’s calamitous universe. The developers confirmed two more season pass add-ons (each with campaign missions), but if the past is doomed to repeat itself, disappointment is the only guarantee.
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3