Preview: Metro Last Light
Now that Deep Silver have their paws on Metro Last Night, we sent roving GGSer Sam Conisbee to find out exactly how the game is shaping up under the watch of it’s new guardians …
Metro 2033 was the hidden gem of the current generation. There, I said it. It feels good to get that out in the open. Developer 4A Games brought the world of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s post apocalyptic underground Russia to life – and they did it with a focus on character and atmosphere that is all too often overlooked in modern first person shooters. Whilst the Metro IP may have changed hands since I last got to see it (moving from the sadly departed THQ to Deep Silver), going hands on proved the transition hasn’t effected the game at all.
Story wise, there’s not a lot I could tell you, even if I wanted to. That’s not me being the most pointless previewer in history, it’s just that Last Light is such a narrative driven game that it would be a shame to spoil even the slightest of revelations. So much so that even us games writers weren’t told too much, beyond a growing civil war in the metro system and the need to stop it’s inhabitants from tearing each other apart. You again take on the role of Artyum after he rained down missile based destruction on the nasty Dark Ones at the end of 2033. But, low and behold, one of the Dark Ones survived, and it is this lone mutant survivor that Artyum’s story revolves round. That and surviving the oppression of the Metro and the threat of opposing Soviet and Fourth Reich armies.
Narrative and character course though every aspect of Metro Last Light. It was described to us as an adventure game experienced through a first person perspective, not necessarily to be played as a straight up shooter. Artyum never really feels like a dominating force feared by all who know his name in the underground. Instead you are constantly up against it, always on the back foot in any combat situation and generally struggling to make it out of each encounter alive. That sense of struggle is literally everywhere. Whether you are desperately trying to wipe blood from your gas mask in the middle of a firefight, or cowering in a corner as a heavily armored flamethrower wielding enemy saunters past, Artyum is the hunted here and you are made to feel it at every turn.
The makeshift weapons from 2033 are back, this time with much deeper customization options to really craft how you want to play the game. Although it has to be said they feel much more responsive and for the most part more powerful than I remember them in the first game. One aspect of the gameplay that has clearly had a lot of work done on it is the stealth. Approaching Metro 2033 as a stealth shooter was, really, a very short lived affair as it would never last longer than the first enemy of any base. But in Last Light everything from your movement to the sneaking options in front of you feels so much smoother and more in tune with the world of the game, and stealth becomes the logical approach. The human enemy AI has been tuned up too, adding tension and a genuine fear of lit areas as you scramble through their bases.
The graphics, physics and lighting in this heavily polished engine are simply astonishing. Where Metro 2033 was a great looking game that pushed most PCs to their limit, Last Light really is verging on next-generation looks. Even playing on the 360 build, this is clearly going to be a graphical swan song for the current console cycle. For a game set predominately in underground tunnels, lighting is immensely important and can make or break the players’ immersion, from swaying lightbulbs in tunnels to flame grenades lapping up the walls. The level of detail on display was another impressive feat, with the stations you visit being even more packed with other survivors and little details that make them feel alive. Whether it’s jugglers entertaining groups of children, cooks in the kitchen or seedy ticket touts outside the metro’s famous theatre, catching pieces of conversations as you move through is not something that new to this style of game. However, when every NPC’s lip sync animations are spot on, it lends that extra level of realism and attention to detail that draws you into this horrifying world.
This really is a single player experience, one to put on with the lights off and lose yourself in. There is no multiplayer in Metro Last Light, something that I personally think is admirable in this day and age. Online death matches have become the go to method of creating longevity for a title, but 4A Games have always been dedicated to creating a stunning single player story. From what I saw, they have definitely made the right decision.
After several E3 demonstrations and various reveals throughout the last 2 years, this was the first hands on experience I have had with Metro Last Light and it could not come soon enough. What I saw shows that a LOT of work has gone in to creating a smoother gameplay experience for the player. It looks better, feels better and plays better than Metro 2033 and that’s coming from a BIG fan of that game. I’ve always been a sucker for story driven games and the focus on telling their tale whilst taking the player on a journey on show in Metro Last Light is incredible. The only bad thing about finally getting to play Last Light is that I now have a 2 month wait to get my hands on the full release, something that I really could not be more excited about.
Metro Last Light is scheduled for release in May 2013.