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Metro: Last Light - Faction Pack Review


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On 10/15/2013 at 04:52 PM by Daniel Iverson

Off the track.
RECOMMENDATION:

Overall, Metro: Last Light’s first season pass DLC is a worthy extension of the game.

Grab a fresh air filter; it’s time to go back underground with the first DLC to hit the Metro: Last Light Season Pass.

The Faction Pack includes three missions: Heavy Squad, Kshatriya, and Sniper Team. Each scenario opens with a brief description of its context, but don't expect them to build upon the story to any meaningful degree.

Heavy Squad

With Heavy Squad, you're a Fourth Reich heavy arms specialist defending against a Red Line assault.

Heavy Squad is the first mission added to the menu after you download the DLC, so I played it first. Unfortunately it’s also the worst mission, so the Faction Pack and I got off to a bad start. You can't move from the platform where you start, which precludes any strategy beyond which weapon to use. It's uninspired at best and intensely frustrating at worst due to unavoidable one-hit deaths. Even after lowering the difficulty to easy, I continued to struggle with the tank at the end until the urge to break my keyboard outweighed the urge to win (a period of about 30 minutes), and I gave up. Apparently, there’s a trick. Should you become privy to it, the mission probably would clock about 10 minutes.

Kshatriya

Kshatriya is a completely different story. The longest and best mission of the Faction Pack, it assigns you to contribute to a Polis historical preservation effort by collecting artifacts from above ground.

The artifacts you’re collecting are mostly common things such as keyboards and monitors, which are no longer so common after nuclear war. The game tracks everything you’ve found, so it’s easy to see which ones you’re still missing. You may hold up to five artifacts at a time, and the amount of time you may spend above ground is limited by the amount of ammo and the number of filters you have, so frequent trips back underground are necessary. Every artifact you return earns you cash, which you’ll immediately use to buy more ammo and filters with which to repeat the process. (Sounds like a pyramid scheme, now that I think about it…)

Kshatriya is refreshing because it addresses the linearity often said to be a problem with the Metro series. You’re free to explore the map, locate the artifacts, and manage resources however you’d like. How far will you push yourself before you return to the base to restock? Cash is limited. Do you use it to buy more filters so you may explore longer, or to buy more ammo so you’re less likely to die trying? Is the costly environmental suit worth it to reduce filter expenditures?

The only problem with the mission is a couple of unfriendly design choices. First, the only way to save is to interact with a specific door at the base—a fact I learned the hard way. The game instructs you to return to the base to record progress but doesn’t mention the door. Second, mutants randomly swarm the base entrance while you wait for the mechanical door to open. Sometimes NPCs are outside to help, but usually you’re alone. It’s kind of a cheap shot and frustrating to die no more than a few steps from safety.

Sniper Team 

As a Red Line sniper, you're tasked with clearing a heavily guarded Fourth Reich outpost above ground.

Using a sniper rifle is fun, especially because the close quarters of the Metro often preclude long-range combat. The outpost map is well designed, and the strategy required to eliminate the targets while avoiding detection was refreshing after the mindless Heavy Squad. I found two significant glitches while playing Sniper Team, however. First, my gun refused to fire despite being fully loaded and unobstructed. Second, my HUD disappeared completely. I was able to walk around but couldn't perform any actions. Both cases required loading a checkpoint to continue.

I love the concept behind the Faction Pack. It's a chance to experience Last Light from different gameplay and narrative perspectives, which I see as a great example of how DLC may be used. While the quality of these specific missions varies, Kshatriya is strong enough by itself to justify the pack’s $5 price, and Sniper Team is a nice bonus. Pretend Heavy Squad doesn’t exist, and you’ll be all set to enjoy a return trip to post-apocalyptic Moscow.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Michael117

10/16/2013 at 11:56 AM

I still need to play this game real bad, but it's held it's value surprisingly well over the months (at least $40 on Amazon still) and I've decided to grab games slightly cheaper like Red Dead Redemption and Dead Space 2, but I still need to grab Last Light. Jesse Miller here at the site turned me onto this game before it came out and everything he told me about the Metro games and about Last Light really got me excited to play it for myself. Hopefully I can grab it soon.

It's nice to see that the dlc can be pretty interesting. The Kshatriya and Sniper Team pieces seem like things I could certainly get into. Good write up, it's nice to see this game getting covered.

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