Metro: Last Light Preview: It Has Looks and Personality
Metro Last Light is the upcoming sequel to Metro 2033 and it is looking fantastic. Unfortunately there is not yet a playable demo, but I did get a chance to see a demo played at E3, though. It was only about 7 minutes or so of gameplay, but it was extremely impressive. The sky is alive with roiling grey clouds and bolts of electricity. The landscape is charred and desolate, I could almost feel radiation bleeding through the screen. Radioactive rain droplets ran down the the monitor and were whisked away as the player wiped his mask. And every now and then the player caught a glimpse of four legged terrors running in the distance. And the spiders, the horrible, ubiquitous spiders. They’re not even enemies! They’re just crawling around all of the dark places of the game for the specific purpose of making the player’s skin crawl! If other game companies are looking for lessons in immersion they should break out a pen and start taking notes from THQ.
Hell, to be completely honest, Metro: Last Light felt more like a survival horror game then the recent Resident Evil titles. Players are forced to don gas masks to protect them from the toxic atmosphere. This adds an extra sense of urgency to the game. The watch on the player’s arm constantly displays how much air remains, forcing the player to pick up the pace and search every dark, mutant-filled corner for additional air filters. It doesn’t feel like the protagonist is a walking ammo dump, but instead a scared survivor hoping they have enough breathable oxygen to make it to their destination. And the mutants are scary. They vaguely resemble whatever they were before they became horribly disfigured killing machines and that basis in reality makes them extra frightening.
But the mutants didn’t really take center stage of the game. The main attraction was the dark and oppressive atmosphere. Sure the fact that the mutants were there made it scarier, but even if there were no monsters, the world of Metro Last Light is not a place you want to be. For the first three minutes or so there’s not even an up close encounter with one of the monsters but it’s still a haunting experience. That tension is still there as the protagonist’s air supply ticks away on the watch and forces the
There’s a powerful seen in the game where the two survivors are forced to check a crashed airplane for supplies and end up experiencing powerful hallucinations of the plane’s last moments. In the hallucination, players can see a startling view of the city being nuked from the plane’s window. The screams of panic from the passengers and the mushroom cloud out the window create a terrifying effect on the player. Metro Last Light is as much about the horrors of nuclear war as it is about mutants and that’s what gives the game its power.
There’s something about Metro Last Light that just put me on the edge of my seat. At one point, a pack of ferocious mutated dogs starts chasing the main characters and they have to run for their lives. This caught my attention because lately it seems as if there are very few panic filled sprints in other survival games. Players might run for more ammo, or run to lure an enemy toward an environmental hazard, but that balls-out-run-for-your-life feeling is absent from most modern games.
The weapons in Metro Last Light have plenty of character and fit perfectly with the setting. Something about them feels cobbled together. The starting weapon has all the rounds exposed and the player sees them feed into the gun. The bolt gun sounds like it’s being broken every time it has to reload. It kind of reminded of the weapons in Bioshock and how well they fit with Rapture’s Dystopian setting. Everything in the city is barren, broken and dying. It stands apart from other FPS games and even other modern survival horror games. I didn’t play the first Metro game, but after seeing the demo for Last Light, I might just have to pick up the original to get ready. The game drops sometime in early 2013 on PC, X-box 360 and PS3 assuming it doesn’t get pushed back, and I’m really hoping it doesn’t.