Let us skip the formalities shall we?
Getting right to it, Metro: Last Light may seem like the average shooter on first glance, but if you’re like me and are always looking for bigger themes in media, you may find it offensive. First off, let me be clear, I am not a feminist activist or a guy who gets up in arms about every little trope in media, but sometimes you gotta draw a line and point out and speak your mind.
*The following covers and shows video game nudity within the article. Reader discretion is advised. You’ve been warned.*
Here’s my case with Metro
The leading lady in Metro: Last Light is met in the early stages of the game, but isn’t seen for many chapters after the main character and her get separated- Nothing wrong with that. They briefly “talk” before getting separated, and didn’t have a relationship beforehand. After many events, the two reunite. The girl then gets kidnapped and eventually you save her (Mario style). She thanks the main character for the rescue… And then has sex with him. Yup. Don’t read that paragraph over to see if you missed anything, because that is it. No romance involved. After they “do the nasty,” they never talk for the rest of the game. Oops… Spoiler I guess. Anyway, in the bad ending, the guy dies and the player is treated with a scene where the woman is telling her son (Guess whose the father) that his father was the bravest man she had ever met. In the good ending you don’t even see the lady ever again. IN THE GOOD ENDING. You only see the woman in the bad ending? Wow. So I’m supposed to believe that these two built a strong relationship between two kidnappings with brief gratitude and conversations. My God, the main character doesn’t even talk. Outside of narrating the loading screens, you don’t hear this guy utter a word. A silent protagonist works in most first-person shooters nowadays, but not in this one. Having a protagonist who could actually hold a conversation would have benefited the game greatly, as it would have sold the relationship between he and her. But this silent man who just follows orders feels so damn disjointed in the story.
Another thing to support my case, the other females in the game are either no-name poor folk… or prostitutes. I’m not making this up, people. You can choose to get a lap dance from one girl… wait, wait, wait. Let me set the mood for you. The main character has followed a man he needs to kill(?) I’m actually not 100% sure; the story isn’t very engaging either. Anyway, the main character follows the guy into an underground strip club of sorts. While eavesdropping on the presumably evil man, a “trickster” comes up to him and asks him why he is alone. Since the character is trying to be all allusive and stuff, he pushes her against the wall and covers her mouth forcibly until the shady man leaves the area. As he releases her from his death grip, she still assumes that this somehow meant he “wanted to touch her.” (How daft can you be?) Moving on, you can either ignore her advances and keep it moving, or get that dance she’s been pushing on you. I have no problem with provocative scenes in media, such as God of War, Grand Theft Auto and Dishonored, but the way it was executed in this instance was poor. The woman wasn’t at all terrified that this man basically assaulted her.
Besides the game being a below par shooter, these are my main problems with Metro Last Light. Going with the “Bechdel Test,” Metro Last Light is guilty of gender bias. I use the bechdel test to recognize gender bias because it is simple but effective. Of course, there are other ways and better ways to identify bias, and you are free to use which ever way you’d like to compare with this test. The guidelines for the test is as follows.
- The movie has to have two [named] women in it.
- The women must talk to each other.
- The women must talk to each other about something besides a man.
Metro fails the test with flying colors, as it doesn’t meet any of the standards. Metro may be set in a post apocalyptic Moscow, but if I’m not mistaken, women still have a role there.
Again, I must stress that tropes like this don’t usually get so riled up, but Metro: Last Light in particular got me heated under the collar. As a guy, I was offended, I’ve seen a lot of misogynistic stuff in my day watching anime and playing games, but Metro crossed a line with me. Combine it with a poor story and mediocre gameplay, and Metro makes my very short list of worst video games I’ve ever played.
So what do you think? Is Metro Last Light guilty of gender bias, or am I the one who is in the wrong here? Feel free to comment or reach out to me in anyway. Also, if you have a better way to identify a bias form of media, please share your knowledge with me. Feel free to comment or reach out to me in anyway.