By Greg Newbegin
In the hands off demo of Metro: Last Light, Artyom, the main protagonist is seen taking an excursion across open wasteland. The demo follows the path of a colleague, and so there is not a great deal of exploration, but we were assured here was a great deal else to be seen should you choose to step off the beaten track. However, what I did see absolutely blew me away.
While the first Metro (2033) tried to fit the apocalyptic shooter mould, it felt to me to be less enjoyable than Fallout 3, which had been released a couple of years prior. An impressive LOOKING game, but not much else to keep me invested (edit: reading Trent's comments below, it may be that I didn't give it enough of a chance). Metro: Last Light, on the other hand, looks to shake up the genre—in a good way. It’s still an apocalyptic shooter, but it just seems so much more realistic this time around.
Described as part shooter, part survival horror (and more besides), the demo really looked the part. The atmosphere was extremely moody (at first, walking through a thunderstorm, the lighting and rain effects made my heart skip a beat), there was a clear need to monitor resources as per the first Metro, but the inclusion of some very emotive flashbacks (very brief – think Eternal Darkness) and other environmental touches really hammered the suspense home. For example, there were occasionally swarms of flies that flew around Artyom’s head and crawled across the gasmask he was wearing, brief glimpses of movement in the shadows, and certain actions would result in fluids being sprayed across the gasmask, requiring the player to actively clean the visor in order to maintain a clear perspective. Little touches like this really made the world feel REAL.
Beyond this, there were typical jumpscares, a desperate need to tread silently to avoid stampeding mutants, and the occasional sudden appearance of a number of monsters hellbent on killing our ‘hero’ – not only was this a moody shooter, it was a frantic fight for life. I’m sure Trent will share more with you, but for myself? I plan to get this on release day.
As most of the team knows, I have a bit of a soft spot for survival horror titles - Metro 2033 is definitely one of the genre’s gems. There’s no doubt that it has the potential to become a cult classic. When I had to the opportunity to sit down for more news on its sequel, I was front row and centre.
From what we’ve seen so far, Last Light doesn’t seem to change the mould too much in comparison to its predecessor. A lot of the features are thankfully still there - from charging your battery with the hand generator, to mask filters and the heavy use of your wristwatch to keep track of how long you have left to stay above ground. What has happened is that these features have evolved and, as Greg has already mentioned, you now have to manage outside influences from obscuring your vision through the gas mask.
The Metro series has always been about creating an immersive atmosphere and from what we’ve seen so far that’s not going to change. Artyom is still a stoic as ever, but his perspective of events is still delivered in a way that leaves you emotionally invested in his journey. During the demonstration, we stepped into a crashed and dilapidated airplane, where Artyom endures a supernatural flashback to the events just before the nuclear incident that lead to the world Last Light takes place in. It’s moments like this that I live for when it comes to storytelling in games, as the world you explore becomes more real with its own history.
What you will also notice is that there is much more emphasis on mutated monsters this time around, as opposed to human-based enemies. It’s no surprise that by taking this method you are going to see much more strange and twisted abominations in the foes you encounter.
Last Light appears to be everything I loved about the original Metro 2033 title with the addition of a few new features that 4A Games wanted to build as a result of their original experience. We here at Stevivor.com are looking forward to bringing you more information as it’s released.