Metro: Last Light — Tower Pack DLC [Review]

Why did we make the worst aspects of the game into DLC again?

Metro: Last Light - Tower Pack

The Tower Pack for Metro: Last Light focuses on the thing I like least about this series: the combat. Getting in shootouts with the enemies with these homemade guns is a nightmare, one that I worked very carefully to avoid in the main game. It’s not as bad as it was in the first one, but it’s still not a situation I ever actively looked for. Not only are you looking for such a fight when you pick up this DLC, but you’re also paying $5 for the pleasure of getting your head kicked around. Still, shooter lovers who are looking for a real challenge will enjoy this DLC, as even on the lowest difficulty, it will absolutely tear you apart unless you’re an intelligent fighter, an ammo scrooge, and a crack shot.

I died on the first level. Twice. Part of that was in figuring out what to do, though. Shoot the other people, I can hear you thinking, but it isn’t that simple. You can only carry a little bit of ammo with you, about three clips for each of your guns, and while that sounds like a decent amount, it’s not. The DLC just spews enemies at you, never seeming to let up until just around when your ammo is about to run out. That’s only assuming you didn’t miss many times, either, as if you did, you’ll find yourself running around the maps looking for anything to shoot back. You really need to be getting those head shots whenever you can, or else you’ll be in a bad spot pretty fast.

There is ammo lying around the maps, enough to completely refill you three times when you start. Getting to the ammo when there’s about fifteen guys with assault rifles closing in on you is brutally hard, though, so best of luck getting to it if you run out. There are other spots in the level that you can get ammo from, though, but it costs money to unlock them. You get a certain amount of money every time you kill something, so by the time you exhaust one ammo supply, you should have enough to unlock another.

Metro: Last Light - Tower Pack

There are some annoying aspects that come from paying for these ammo unlocks. There are typically a few different ones in each map, and some of them have varied prices. The only affordable unlock might be in a dangerous part of the map, meanwhile the one that works best for your strategy is unaffordable for some time. It forces you out of the plan you might have in order to grab the ammo you need to live — something that arguably could make these maps more frantic. I found that it made it hard to form a strategy on my own, and instead I had to work with the ammo unlocks in order of cost in order to survive each mission. It felt more that there was a correct strategy for each stage instead of just letting me look at multiple combat options and decide on my own. It also makes it hard to change up your plans on the fly if a plan isn’t working, because you probably won’t be able to afford to find a new ammo point to hover around when the one you’re at becomes too dangerous to continue defending. If you make a bad decision on where to defend, you’re pretty much stuck with it.

It’s especially difficult because this DLC is all about finding the right spot and tackling the enemies using the environment. The maps are mostly large, open spaces, but there are many corners and objects you can duck behind. Since you’ll be picked apart by the enemies if you’re out of cover for more than a few seconds, even on the lowest difficulty (I had to drop to it on the second stage after losing three times, and even then, I only managed to scrape by), you need to pick a good spot and lurk behind it. Hopefully you’ve picked one with easy access to ammo, and hopefully you don’t exhaust it while fighting the giant hordes of enemies.

You do get a small break between waves of enemies, so there is a little bit of time where you can alter your plan. You might not be able to afford to change where you’re hiding out, but another issue is that you might not have time to scout out a new one. The maps aren’t huge most of the time, but you only have around fifteen seconds to reload on ammo and situate yourself before the next wave begins. If you only need ammo from one spot, that’s typically just enough time to grab it and get back to where you’re hiding out. If you need to explore the map to open up a new ammo unlock, you’re in trouble. It’s just not enough time to poke around the multiple ammo unlocks to find which one is the cheapest and best to defend, and it gets really difficult if you’re still shopping around when the enemies arrive. Until I learned the maps, I would often find myself running around in combat trying to find ammo, my guns completely empty with half a dozen monsters slashing my back to shreds. It got old fast.

It is pretty exciting, though. Having to fight off dozens of aggressive, almost suicidal enemies all at once puts a lot of pressure on the player to play well. I would defend one point for as long as I could, scanning the environment to see if I could reach some ammo once mine ran out. I’d keep an eye on the multiple routes that lead to where I needed to go, watching to see which one had the most enemies on it. Once my gun let out the terrible click to tell me it was empty, I’d be off running; weaving around enemies while hoping I had enough of a head start on them to make it. Barring that, I’d charge for an ammo unlock, praying I had enough money to open it once I got there. It’s some ugly feeling when you see an unlock you can’t afford when you get there, your screen flashing red from damage, but an amazing feeling when you make it there just in time, unlock the ammo, and rip you pursuers apart.

Metro: Last Light - Tower Pack

You might not have the right guns to fight back, as you do have some choice in what you bring along with you. Each time you beat most of the stages, you get a handful of guns added to your arsenal to bring along to the next stage. You can choose which three guns to bring along with you, picking them based on the creatures you’ll be fighting in the next stage. Long-range stuff is a must when you’re fighting humans, but bringing along a little something close and personal works too if you want to cram it right into their spawn point. You need to be sure you have a little something for both ranges, though, as enemies spawn from multiple points in the level, typically in front and behind you, so any plan you have needs to be able to adapt in seconds.

You can get a little backup if you goofed up your plan, though. You can unlock backup fire from a couple of soldiers in a couple of levels as well, opening them up in the exact same way you would an ammo drop. You have to run up and activate it, and it also costs money to do that as well, so you really have to think about whether it’s more worthwhile to pay for them to show up if it means being unable to afford more ammo for yourself. They are good shots and don’t seem to have a limit on their ammo, but enemies did seem to prioritize them as targets (probably because I was using them for cover. Sorry, guys) and will kill them a long time before the match ends. They’re beyond handy when you’re in a bad spot, though, and are a great addition to some of the maps where he enemies never seem to let up.

All of this adds a lot of danger and excitement to the combat, but it’s still not exactly a system I enjoyed all that much. These are still the crap handmade guns that fill the Metro world, so exchanging fire with the enemies just isn’t all that practical when they have better firearms or natural weaponry. You can’t go pick up one of the better guns that the enemies hold in these maps and are typically stuck with some lame guns, so your best bet really is to hide somewhere and pick guys off as they come to you. It’s just not practical to stick your head out and fight considering how awful many of your guns are, as they do poor damage, are lousy at range, or require constant reloading. I’m assuming it was believed that it was part of the game’s challenge to work around these shortcomings, but I found it just about impossible to deal with them. The only realistic way to do so was to plunk myself in some corner and wait for everyone to come to me, and that tended to shift from being boring to being extremely frustrating.

The Tower Pack DLC is hard. It is really, really hard. Even if you’re good at shooters, this game will do its best to break you with repeated waves of enemies fighting back against you and your weak weapons. If you want pure, enraging challenge, it will drive it down your throat. To me, I just found that the defensive game was too boring, and if I wanted to create multiple strategies, it was just too hard with the varying costs of ammo unlocks. I felt like I was forced into a single strategy that the game was built around, and if I couldn’t make that work, it was too bad. I never did really like the combat in this game, feeling that it was at its strongest as a necessary evil for when you screwed something up. Turning it into the star of a DLC pack seemed like a bad idea, and it turned out that it was. It can be enjoyable if you want inhuman challenge while facing severe limitations, but it was far too much for me. I’ll go right back to exploring the Metro for parts and bikini calendars, thanks.

Joel Couture
Joel Couture
Joel Couture

MASH Veteran

A horror-obsessed gamer, Joel is still spending his days looking for something to scare himself as much as Fatal Frame. Even so, he has ridiculous action games and obscure gems to keep him happy in the meantime. A self-proclaimed aficionado of terrible retro games, he's always looking for a rotten game he hasn't played yet, and may be willing to exchange information for candy.

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