Metro: Last Light Is All About Survival And Maybe A Little Vodka
As I sit here at my PC I look out the window and see a grey sky, rain scattering across the glass and wind bending the trees. To me this weather is perfect, it puts me at ease and makes me happy. However, pretend for a second that I’m a normal human being, this is gloomy weather and maybe a little depressing. Seems like the perfect conditions in which to write about Metro: Last Light.
The game is a direct sequel to 2010’s sleeper hit FPS survival horror, Metro 2033. So direct in fact that it was initially set to be called Metro 2034. Despite several delays, a publisher change and the fact that the word metro is now also associated with Windows, the game still looks promising so let’s see what’s what.
Name: Metro: Last Light
Genre: FPS Survival Horror
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developers: 4A Games
Publishers: Deep Silver
Release Date: 17 May 2013
Price: R549 (PS3, Xbox 360), R325 (PC)
Imagine, for a second, that North Korea’s threats of war are actually backed up by nuclear weapons that we should be scared of and that the world does descend into nuclear warfare resulting in the sort of nuclear apocalypse that was feared throughout the Cold War. The world is in ruins, society has fallen and you can’t even go outside without a gas mask because the air is practically toxic. This is the setting for Last Light (as it was for Metro 2033), a desperate and broken world with no hope. Sounds like tons of fun.
The game takes place beneath Moscow in its tunnels and subways and features an original plot unlike Metro 2033 which was based on the book of the same name by Dmitry A. Glukhovsky. However, Glukhovsky still worked closely with 4A on Last Light. In Last Light you play as Artyom and the focus is squarely on slower, more considered gameplay rather than fast-paced action. Sure there still are some actioney bits but the intention is for this to be a survival horror. As such you’ll find yourself in dark places a lot and needing to conserve resources whilst also thinking carefully about realistic elements such as replacing batteries on headlamps and filters on gas masks. The game is going for an atmosphere of desperation and what better way to capture that than with limited resources?
Fun fact: The Moscow Metro (underground) was in fact designed with the secondary purpose of serving as a shelter in the event of nuclear war.
As you’d imagine in any post-apocalyptic setting, a few factions have risen up and divided the people namely Sparta, the Rangers, the Reich and the Communists. As you play through the game you’ll come up against these factions and some will confront you while others may aid you. Besides that there’s a host of mutated creatures courtesy of nuclear fallout and widespread radiation. These are the things that will haunt you in the dark. Each factions has its goals and aims but all of them are intent on getting to the D6 bunker which is rumoured to house an arsenal large enough to win a war. Artyom meanwhile has his own objectives and is out to learn more about the last of the Dark Ones – a race of powerful beings believed to have been wiped out during the last game.
The game is still an FPS at its core though so you’ll usually have a gun in your hand along with a variety of intriguing makeshift weapons. Shooting mechanics are said to have been fixed from Metro 2033 as has the issue of under-powered weapons. There will, as mentioned before, be a big emphasis on conserving resources and ammo, while having to worry about things such as battery life on your headlamp and such things. Given the amount of darkness an shadows you’ll find yourself in, it would be remiss to not include some stealth elements and the game will give players this option or you can go Rambo if you like. You can even unscrew light bulbs to create darkness if that works for you.
The main idea though, however you choose to play is slower pacing that promotes you to explore environments and play tactically rather than blaze your way through from one area to the next. Oh and that inconsistent AI from Metro 2033? That’s said to have been much improved as well.
The game’s slower pacing is also to allow for greater immersion and this is done by removing maps and waypoints from your HUD. This immersion also works in the player’s favour as you’ll need to be more aware of the world around you and use your senses and sense of direction to navigate without a marker to tell you where to go.
This is an FPS so some part of you mind likely wondering about multiplayer. There won’t be any because 4A wanted to put all their effort into the singleplayer and felt there was no need for multiplayer especially since with the game being very story-driven, fans only really cared about singleplayer. While we’re on the topic of not wasting development resources and manpower, this is the same reason why a Wii U version was never produced. 4A felt the console’s processor is “horrible, slow” and said that adding a PS3 version to the developmental workload was more than enough for them given the relatively small team.
Meanwhile, all that dedication and focus on the game also manifested itself in something which looks truly beautiful. It might not be the best looking game ever as the game’s producer claims but it certainly looks great. There’s an obsessive attention to detail in the environments with everything being fully rendered and even destructible elements are done in great detail. Inspect them closely and you can see the mesh or rebar and whatever support structure was inside. Gears and spindles move in real-time on mechanical objects. The idea was to keep the console versions in parity with the PC version so you should get a great looking game on console but an even better looking one on PC.
There’s a lot of effort that went into the dynamic lighting which should be great for stealth and this is coupled with some intensive sound design which requires players to keep their ears pricked and listen to the sounds around them.
Suspected Selling Points
- Stunning visuals and attention to detail
- Caters for the niche survival horror genre
- Focuses on realism
- Attempts to offer a slower, more unique FPS experience
- Several delays and a change of publisher may shaken Last Light up a bit too much
- The game’s insistence of player attentiveness and awareness may not be for everyone
Metro: Last Light is looking to bring a different, more considered and realistic approach to the FPS genre while also forcing players to think carefully and conserve resources thanks to the survival horror elements which are often underdeveloped in many games. At the same time it is looking to correct its predecessors mistakes with gun mechanics and AI. Couple this with good-looking visuals and a psychotic attention to detail and we have what promises to be a good game. Just how good remains to be seen and depends on how well it all comes together.