Metro: Last Light Season Pass Review: Sighing on the Metro
Metro: Last Light was a sprawling and decidedly creepy adventure, though its DLC releases have left much to be desired. Over the course of the game's shelf life, four packs have been sent out into the wild: the Faction Pack, Tower Pack, Developer Pack, and the Chronicles Pack. The entire season pass is available for purchase, with all packs now unlocked for play, but is it worth your time to pick it up?
The answer is a resounding no. It's hard to argue the price of each package individually, or the season pass as a whole, especially if you're so into Metro: Last Light that any sliver of extra content gets you salivating. However, what's included is a mixed bag if I've ever seen one, with varying levels of quality and effort expended. It's clear 4A Games was conflicted as to what they wanted to ultimately offer, which is unfortunate since the main campaign itself was an excellent follow-up to Metro 2033.
The Faction Pack is a set of additional missions that offer fairly generic objectives -- you'll play as a character from one of the dominant factions of Metro; a Red Line Sniper, Polis Ranger, or Reich Heavy. Each faction focuses on a different playstyle. While the idea is obviously based around the fact that different soldiers provide different playstyle opportunities, that doesn't exactly feel like the case here. The Reich Heavy mission, funnily enough, is the most entertaining one, despite the fact that you're acting as a turret gunner for the majority of the time. Get those trigger fingers ready, because you're going to be holding them down for a good, long time. Or at least for ten minutes or so. That's how long it'll take you to breeze through the Reich Heavy's level. It's disappointing, of course, but the fact that this is the best mission should be telling on its own.
The Red Line Sniper creeps along at a snail's pace, with a stealth mission that is neither offensive or engaging in any way. If sneaking through nooks and crannies with a silenced sniper rifle and learning guard location patterns is your bag, you'll find thirty minutes' worth of enjoyment here, but 40 minutes to complete two-thirds of a DLC pack doesn't exactly seem as though it's worth the cash.
The best of the pack are, undoubtedly, the Polis Ranger missions, which find you assigned to the Great Library to bring back pre-war artifacts. If you remember the Great Library of Metro 2033, this is the very same. Libraries mean librarians, right? That's part of what makes playing through these missions the high point of the entire Faction Pack. The randomized trips you're forced to make to the surface, the dungeon-crawling feel to scavenging the Library, and the creep factor make these missions the high point of the entire package, but in the end they fall short as well, offering only a marginal amount of gameplay in addition to the first two thirds of the package. It may be a cheap standalone purchase, but it's nowhere near worth the Season Pass entry price.
The Tower Pack is on deck, the second round of DLC to have been released earlier this year. If you're not into Metro: Last Light's combat, which many people aren't, you'll find yourself wishing you had skipped out. Ever wanted to re-envision Metro as a FPS, Unreal or Quake-style? You can with this arena-based add-on, which has you staving off constantly spawning enemies and human adversaries, and it gets extremely boring extremely quickly. Though the combat system is revamped for this package with a meatier, less frustrating HUD, the garden-variety killstreak-laden fragfest is dull, especially considering it's a lazy excuse for additional content. Seriously -- it's the worst of the four.
The Developer's Pack is an interesting amalgam of developer tools, like the occasionally useful bot battles as well as a single-player mission that players with arachnophobia would do well to avoid, but at $4.99 for the standalone package, it's another resounding "nay" to the "should I purchase this?" query. The arachnids' domain, while offering a flamethrower and some nerve-wracking unease in claustrophobic passageways, isn't long enough to justify the entry price, even if it does offer some long-awaited chills and thrills. It's not what I was expecting -- but we still have the fourth and final pack to sift through, don't we?
You'd think the final DLC pack to round out the season pass would ensure the latest entry in the Metro saga would go out with a bang -- all misses and no hits so far, right? Unfortunately, that isn't the case with this rather pedestrian package that rolls up several new chapters, but less originality than the base game itself. It feels as though 4A Games has gone through the motions, obliging players hungry for more with just that, though they've sacrificed what made Last Light memorable in the first place.
The bonus missions included within Chronicles follow Pavel, Anna, and Khan, some of the lesser (in personality and in ranking) characters we didn't spend much time alone with in-game. Pavel's chapter is our first introductory brush with how Chronicles is going to play out, and is undoubtedly the strongest. We meet up with Pavel after the battle with Artyom. It's straight from the frying pan into the fire as Pavel is captured by mercenaries from which he has to escape -- and fast. After improvising an escape route thanks to a handy syringe in his captor's neck, Pavel's on the lam, without weapons or supplies.
Pavel's chapter is heavily reliant on stealth, asking players to scavenge for loot and supplies from soldiers littering the area. It's a fairly solid stealth-based mission with pushes toward silenced weapons and tranquilizers, which suits Pavel's style of play. I particularly enjoyed Venice's market, which offered several minigame-styled venues of entertainment to partake in before heading back to the dreary world of the Red Line. Though a bit contrived, Pavel's journey is the most engaging one, as he was the one secondary character I would have liked to have learned more about. Unfortunately, the mission skids to a stop seemingly just as soon as it begins, as if 4A Games was afraid of delivering a product that might have capitalized on what players are likely clamoring for.
Khan's mission is up next, following the memorable train sequence from the Last Light's main story path. Khan's story is an entertaining mix of flesh-eating rats, ghouls, and bizarre happenings, but there's not as much about Khan as you'd like, especially since the Ranger made some chilling mistakes back when he was young. It does attempt to fill in some blanks, but there's still this lingering, nagging feeling that this is a mission you've played several times before across game after game -- the only thing that's different is the character and the location.
Anna's mission is nearly worthless, an episode that could have been erased from Chronicles' trio of assignments due to its simplistic and plodding nature. As Anna, you'll provide covering fire for Artyom during the prologue to Last Light, which consists of aiming and pulling the trigger on a super-powered sniper rifle. Lather, rinse, and repeat -- you might remember similar engagements in the Modern Warfare series as Soap's missions, though even back there you had more setpieces to explore beyond traveling to point A to point B. It's derivative, short, and just plain boring at times -- why is Anna relegated to the short end of the stick, anyway?
It's frustrating that out of four standalone releases, only one may be worth your time, and that's if you purchase it outright. It's as if another team entirely came up with the additional content, as if Metro: Last Light were some wretched abomination no one wanted to play. The game deserves better, and fans deserve better. Those desperate for a trip back through will likely find some use for this season pass, but I can't recommend it for anyone else.