After the release of Metro:Last Light, a game that really surprised me with how much I liked it and how well it was done, the last thing I was expecting was DLC. Most of the time, we know well in advance we’ll be getting these sort of things and sometimes even the day of release. That, and with such a tightly-woven narrative in Last Light, we’d have to delve into other areas for the DLC to work, and I was sure there’d be issues getting this to work right. Is the DLC worth getting, then, if it doesn’t tie into the main game? That depends on what you’re looking for, as your mileage will vary a great deal. Let’s take a look.
The Factions Pack gives three new chapters to Metro: Last Light, all three separate characters in differing factions around the Metro. Two of the chapters are far longer than the third, and the third is incredibly disappointing in that regard, so we’re going to start with that one. The Reich chapter puts you in the role of one of their Heavy Weapons guys. The whole chapter is you surviving an assault on the Reich line and laying into the oncoming troops with all the weapons at your disposal. That’s it. Wave after wave of enemies in what is essentially a turret style mission for all the room you have to move around, with your Reich buddies yelling words of encouragement and alarm at the invasion. After the great chapters and areas in Last Light, this one felt incredibly under-whelming, as it’s a single turret mission that you get no real insight into the Reich at all from.
The second chapter I tackled gets you involved with the Polis Rangers, where you’re trying to become a full-fledged Ranger by going out from their station and into the Library near the station, collecting relics to bring back in exchange for bullets, which you can then use to buy gear. This will make it a bit easier to move through the Library, taking on the enemies that lurk in there, as well as the short trips outside that are just as deadly. While bringing back the relics proves your worth, what you’re really doing is replacing light bulbs along the route you’re opening up, so others can see the way. There are recordings you can find from the previous Ranger that went through that give some helpful hints about which way to go, as well as some painted on arrows, but if you just follow these you’ll miss a few relics. There’s some interaction with the people back at the Polis base camp, so don’t expect quite the same impact the main game’s story had, but it was interesting going through the library avoiding the critters where one should and getting the lights back on.
The last part of the Pack is as a Redline Sniper, who has to infiltrate an enemy base using his sniping skills and sneaking around to get past the enemy troops, then inside to wreak havoc. While you start off with a partner, you quickly split off, leaving you to your own devices, letting you choose who to take out and who to just sneak past. Getting seen at all won’t raise the alarm, but giving them a chance to sound it will send you back to your last checkpoint. While both the Redline and Polis sections were far more interesting than the Reich section, both are still story echoes of what we got in the main game. I’d compare the factions pack story to the Walking Dead’s 400 Days, but even then these snippets aren’t nearly as engaging story wise. They’re kind of a neat look into other people’s day to day existence, besides Artyom from the main game. If you’re in it for the story of the game you’ll be let down, but if you just want a little more gameplay you might have fun with this.
Visually, you’re not going to notice anything different between these and the main game at all. While I haven’t played Metro 2033, there was mention that the three locations you visit are all locations from that, maybe from a different perspective. I didn’t notice any real issues with the areas. Aurally, the same applies to the DLC as the main game. The voice actors do a decent enough job, and the monsters and residual audio is well done. The effect of both really does draw you in, and despite my objections over the story, the DLC is still engaging enough that way. I won’t go into the controls here, as I already covered that in my review, but they added a few new gameplay options as far as changing out light bulbs, collecting the relics to turn in along with a backpack limit that forces you to go back when you’ve gotten a bunch of them, and, of course, sneaking about a bit more. Each section definitely has a completely different feel though, and that I liked very much.
The Reich section is pretty short and is a test of how well you’re shooting skills are, the game keep track of the different relics you collect so if you don’t get them all your first go through, that might be a goal for going back through, and you might want to try not killing everything and still sneaking through the sniper part, but overall your mileage may vary. Once you get your achievements, there isn’t much reason to play these again, and even then I’m more likely to only play the two if I do go back. Turret missions can get annoying. They’re fairly short, maybe running about 3 hours if you’re doing well enough, probably less than two for people with better skills than mine. This took me far longer than I’d care to admit, because it’s a bit harder than the main game, which I thought was mostly okay, even though I was playing on the same difficulty level. The Reich section should only run maybe ten minutes, but took me about an hour of play, because I couldn’t get my timing or aim right at a certain section involving an incoming tank.
While you’re going back to areas they’ve already touched on, it was neat playing as the different characters, but you have all the same options that you had as Artyom, so even though you’re playing someone different it doesn’t feel all that much different at all, as far as what you have available, except for your weapons choices. A little more here would have been nice, but I won’t complain too hard about it. Other than the Reich mission, I did get into these pretty quickly and wanted to see the others done, and sunk some effort into them and time exploring the areas just to get a better look, not just to find filters or enemies to dispatch. If you’re a fan of either of the Metro games, though, and the world, this is definitely something to check out, and although disappointing story-wise compared to the main game, it was interesting getting a look at how other parts of the Metro live.
I did encounter a few glitches that a reboot fixed, mainly with weapon hits having some strange squares pop up instead of the intended visual effect. Rebooting and replaying those sections seemed to have fixed it, so I’m chalking that more up to a Windows issue than anything else. I did have a few issues with the Librarians, giant ape-like critters that infest certain sections of the Library in the Polis section, where they would stop moving entirely or not follow their usual pattern and just attack without warning. There was a flying critter in the library that ignored me almost every time I went in there, except for the trip before my last, where it was determined to carry me around the room and drop me, and then went back to its normal behavior. Overall, though, I didn’t really have any issues and no game crashes.
Short Attention Span Summary
Metro: Last Light – Factions Pack is a bit of a letdown story-telling wise, but the gameplay is pretty solid and gives you a look into the day-to-day of some of the other residents of the Metro. While not entirely distinguishing themselves from Artyom, as they all have the same basic equipment available except for weapons and what you start with, the different sections all have very different feels as you play, and while I would have like more from the Reich section other than a turret mission, the other two sections delivered that Metro experience. I’d be hesitant to recommend this to more than just fans of the game or books, unless you want a little more of a taste of the world. While I enjoyed it for the most part, I think players might be expecting a little more from what was such a great game in the DLC, and it’s just not as engaging.
What Video Game Release for January 2014 are you most excited for?
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