Metro: Last Light is shaping up to be bigger, better and more immersive than its predecessor in every facet that matters. It’s reassuring to hear a developer admit to their flaws that are inevitable with a new franchise, and promise to give the sequel the time and extra polish that it deserves. That was the beginning of the hands-off demo for Metro: Last Light at THQ last week.
That enthusiasm is to be matched by THQ, who kick-started the beginning of a committed marketing campaign with a live action trailer that was more like short film.
Combining an action-packed FPS with an atmospheric survival horror against the backdrop of post apocalyptic Moscow, Last Light picks up a year after the events of Metro 2033.
This isn’t the Western Hollywood vision of a post apocalyptic dystopia. This is Eastern Europe, encompassing the legacy of the Soviet Union and the terrifying events of Chernobyl, combined with the supernatural.
Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. The detailed environments are clearly the focus of the nuked-out Russia. The demo begins in the underground subway stations in which survivors have been forced to take refuge from the terrifying mutants and acid rain that lingers above.
Before venturing out into the open world, our returning protagonist Artyom has to don a gas mask containing just five minutes of oxygen; he must return to the safety of the underground before it runs out. The world above is blinding with natural light compared to the solace of darkness below, where the field of view provided by your trusty flashlight is all that can be seen.
Scavenging will play a crucial role in Last Light, as supplies are scarce and not easy to come by. Ammo can be found sparingly, while intact air-filters on the deceased, who attempted to traverse the desolate landscape unsuccessfully, can be a godsend to the still living. His charred remains aren’t going to miss it.
The gunplay looks much improved, but Artyom hardly fires a shot with his shaky trigger finger over the course of the demo. Accompanied by an A.I. ally, he is more concerned about what might be lurking while wandering around in the dark, than what actually poses a serious threat. His fear radiates as he stumbles into cobwebs and jumps jittery at the flash of a shadow out the corner of his eye.
After making our way to the surface, Artyom and his buddy slide down the wing of a fallen plane and make their way into the stricken remains of the fuselage. This presents the perfect opportunity to salvage supplies from the decrepit remains of the poor souls onboard and burn some spider-stricken cobwebs, before creeping into the cockpit and triggering one of the demo’s most intriguing features.
A blinding white flashback brings to life the events of an enthralling episode of Air Crash Investigation. Everything seems calm as two neatly dressed pilots are navigating a beautiful blue sky before disaster strikes. The world spontaneously erupts into flames and the passenger jet plummets to the ground.
That’s not gone well.
If there’s one thing more exciting that shooting mutant dogs in the face, it’s finding out how such a world came to be. But this isn’t the Western Hollywood vision of a post apocalyptic dystopia. This is Eastern Europe, encompassing the legacy of the Soviet Union and the terrifying events of Chernobyl that have been relegated to a minor incident by comparison, combined with the supernatural.
Of all the games we’ve seen in the lead up to E3 so far, Metro: Last Light is the one that grabbed my attention. With a bleak outlook on post apocalyptic Moscow and an array of improvements across the board, it’s one to watch in the lead up to its release in 2013.
By Ben Salter - Bio