The plot itself is also a much more engrossing affair than what had been offered previously. Where in 2033 it almost seemed as though the people living in the metro might be better off dead, Last Light shows that the citizens of the underground are actually making progress towards something resembling a normal life. There are restaurants, respectable markets, and even an entertainment industry beginning to flourish. You can even take some time to enjoy a makeshift broadway show. For the first time in the series, you actually get a feeling that these people are worth all the trouble you've been going through to help protect them. Oh, and there's a bit of a love story this time around as well, but I'll leave it to you to be blown away by how that particular thread ties itself off.
Artyom's own backstory also gets some much needed attention in Last Light. The various mysteries surrounding the main protagonist - including his perplexing ability to communicate with the Dark Ones - is finally explained in a satisfying manner. When the credits roll, you'll finally feel a sense of closure, which is something the previous game simply didn't manage to achieve.
The same care has been given to the overall difficulty level, which had a tendency to spike and dip to an unreasonable degree in Metro 2033: Normal difficulty is now normal, Easy is easy, Hard is hard, and Ranger mode - which is included with "Limited Edition" of the game, but will reportedly set you back $5 if you buy used or didn't pre-order - is sadistically difficult. You'll still die plenty of times on the default difficulty, but you'll never feel like a particular fight is impossible or unreasonably stacked against you.
In short: This is the game everyone hoped Metro 2033 would be, and now we finally have it.
That said, Metro: Last Light is a sequel, and as such it expects a certain amount of previous knowledge of the story and its characters. For a twisted tale like that of Metro, that becomes a problem if you decided to sit the first game out. Simply put, Last Light may not be quite as enjoyable for newcomers to the series, and the game doesn't do a particularly good job of offering a comprehensive back story. If you've bested the first game, Last Light is the ultimate payoff, but if not, you could find yourself a bit frustrated. If you skipped 2033, either go back and play it or, at the very least, find a detailed plot summary online and educate yourself before diving into Last Light.
Bottom Line: As a sequel, Last Light approaches perfection. It improves on its predecessor in just about every way, but may leave newcomers scratching their heads.
Recommendation: If you played and even marginally enjoyed Metro 2033, this needs to be at the top of your pre-order list. If you skipped the first game, find a wiki, catch up, and then buy it. Either way, this is a game not to be missed.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.