Metro: Last Light Updated Preview

We smash some lightbulbs, cut off heads, and add an extra dimension in our latest look at this future shooter.

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"The flawed masterpiece" is a term that THQ has used on more than one occasion when referring to 2010's Metro 2033. Loved by fans of the gritty postapocalyptic genre, the title's critical reception was hampered by a handful of design quirks and technical foibles, such as inconsistent AI.

Determined to improve on some of the shortcomings of the original, European developer A4 Games is trying its hand once more with Metro: Last Light, a direct sequel to Metro 2033. We recently got a second look at the demo shown during E3, and while the content hasn't evolved beyond the tightly scripted sequence that wowed show goers in June, we took the time to slow down the pace and smell the decaying roses. Our first lap was at full pace, verbosely butchering anything stupid enough to stand between our bullets and our objective. The second was much stealthier, focusing on using shadows to our advantage and drawing targets to secluded locations before putting them to sleep forever. Our third and final pass was much more free-form, stopping the action and examining the gameworld, and the intricacies of its objects, and giving us our first glimpse at the game running in stereoscopic 3D.

The scene opened with a long panning shot over the barren wastelands that form the backdrop to the game. The world was littered with aeroplane debris, framed by a slightly healthier-looking sky than we had seen previously and sparsely occupied by mutants roaming freely. The snow was beginning to melt, but we were headed underground, entering the darkened subterranean place via giant cement ducting. Light isn't your friend when you want to remain inconspicuous, so we quickly approached and untwisted light globes dotting the walls so that they no longer glowed, plunging the area into darkness. It was a theme continued throughout our demo, with our guide either carefully removing them by hand or shooting them out at distance with our silenced rifle. Downed soldiers wearing headlamps were just as likely to give away our position, so we quickly turned them off so as not to raise the suspicions of patrolling guardsmen.

The darkness is my only friend.

With silence on our mind, machetes replaced bullets as we watched the paths of enemy soldiers and sidled up behind them before plunging our blade into their skulls. It was when the gunfire died down and the rooms were quiet and bloody that the attention to detail present in Last Light made itself clear. Accuracy permeates the gameworld, and where corners could have feasibly been cut, like using flat images for noninteractive objects such as pipes and switchboards, the team has gone the extra mile by creating fully 3D objects in excruciating replica. This is a salvaged future, and as a result, the cobbled-together technology is rooted in reality. Cogs grip and spin and cables spool in real time, whilst digging a layer below the destructible environments exposes the materials underneath that are providing structural integrity, such as mesh and rebar.

Although the demo that we saw was a fraction of a level and is still very much in the pre-alpha stage of development, we were most struck by its complete lack of HUD. No final decisions have been made, but the design team is working hard on the possibility of taking essential elements off the screen, or using replacement indicators, such as visible ammunition clips, as round counters, or audio cues, such as the difference between metal pings on armour and thuds of bullets colliding with flesh, to indicate what you're hitting. It's ambitious, and a natural follow-on to Metro 2033's oxygen supply indicator watch system, but it will require significantly less hand-holding than exists in other shooters available. We welcome the change, and it's a brave step that we're hoping does make it to market.

The surface is just as apocalyptic as ever.

Currently, there are only plans for the PC version of Last Light to support stereoscopic 3D, courtesy of a partnership with Nvidia, but THQ reps did allude to the fact that if the community wants it, there is a possibility of the mode being brought to the game's console versions. 3D looked stunning, and with the scene moving slowly, each weapon showed distinct personalities in the gouges and scratches on the metal, while the subtle depth-of-field change when the iron sights were brought up were anything but gimmicky. Unfortunately, as tends to be the case with the technology, when the scene got frantic, and speedy actions like weapon reloads or fast-paced action sequences occurred, the fine detail showcased in 3D that made the game so beautiful and immersive was lost, turning it into more of a blur. 3D visuals are an inherently personal experience, so your mileage may vary, but from what we saw, we're hoping to see it tightened up before it ships.

The game is not due to ship until sometime in 2012 on the PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U, but from our latest taste, we're hoping to see more on Metro: Last Light soon.

Discussion

67 comments
LeoLex_
LeoLex_

cant wait for this more than bioshock...

Naraic100
Naraic100

I'm only hoping they can keep the sheer desperate atmoshphere of the first game alive.

venomvolkan
venomvolkan

i love this game, and please in 3D!!! please!

vadagar1
vadagar1

I hope it is more open world like Stalker, well open under world in this case :P and more weapons, AND zombies (metro 2033 appropriate ones of course) oh and BTW first game was EPIC haters gonna hate I guess *cough*CoD fanboys*cough*

fujicolor2000
fujicolor2000

the first one had a unique feel, I hope this one keep that atmosphere. Metro 2033 was a great and special game, looking forward for this one

darth_sedus
darth_sedus

More post-apocalyptic scenarios, how about a change already, RAGE is already filling the shoe, and Fallout 3 and New Vegas were grand. So I say let's try something else, different.

clever_inks
clever_inks

i dont like first game but this might interesting from b4

Ares360
Ares360

Loved the first one how currency was bullets, hopefully this one is longer than its predecessor and has a higher replay value.

Anto_212
Anto_212

I didnt have the opportunity to play the first one but DAMN this game looks special.

rveegee
rveegee

"...design team is working hard on the possibility of taking essential elements off the screen, or using replacement indicators, such as visible ammunition clips, as round counters, or audio cues, such as the difference between metal pings on armour and thuds of bullets colliding with flesh, to indicate what you're hitting." Very intrigued!

KILLEDbCRITICAL
KILLEDbCRITICAL

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

KILLEDbCRITICAL
KILLEDbCRITICAL

@steelmouth Why should they just ignore the ps3 market,ps3 have a huge fan base as the 360 if not bigger worldwide,i play a lot both systems since the beginning and although i have good moments with the 360 i find the ps3 have a little more realistic visuals(thats my opinion)and as far of power of hardware goes you will not be seeing ps3 exclusives on the 360 bro...

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@Rovelius Hahaha. I shat a brick at the opening to FEAR (went down hill drastically after that admittedly). I'll look in to it mate, there's not many decent chilling games out there. Cheers bro.

ccb320
ccb320

no HUD? Its about time someone had the guts to try it. I think it fits perfectly with the style of this series. I just hope they dont shy away from the idea. Stick with it A4! dont let me down!

steelmouth
steelmouth

@KILLEDbCRITICAL No i play plety muilt platform games, its the exclusives that jump ship and cross to the other console that piss me off, put for selfish reasons am cool with ps3 exclusives comming to the 360

KILLEDbCRITICAL
KILLEDbCRITICAL

I love 2033,we need more survival horror/terror in this gen!! @steelmouth so u don't play the game if its out for ps3?...curious way of thinking...your loss.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

I bought and finished Metro 2033 for the 360 and pc, and enjoyed it, despite the poor shooting and stealth. Looking forward to this.

Rovelius
Rovelius

@warhawk-geeby Do like me and do yourself a favor : buy this game. Been playing nonstop since yesterday. This game managed to scare the crap out of me twice now, and that comes from someone who plays Silent Hill and Dead Space games without lifting an eyebrow.

Rovelius
Rovelius

@steelmouth PC and Xbox360 is multiplatform, even if the two are somewhat related. There are many games exclusive to 360 and vice-versa.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@weedman1985 Nope I ain't, up until now I hadn't even heard of the game! I'm not dismissing it as I know these pre-trailers aren't everything, but in my personal opinion it doesn't look anything to get that tremendously hyped for. Respect to your icon by the way, love it :P

steelmouth
steelmouth

Please please guys show me the picture of metro 2033 ps3 cover please or a link or something to show its multi-plat as in 360and ps3 @Rovelius @RiOrus @iArtisan @svenjl

steelmouth
steelmouth

What you guys smoking metro 2033 was never on a ps3 only x360 and pc, and thats exclusive enuf for me as most x360 tittles eventually make their way to pc @Rovelius @RiOrus @iArtisan @svenjl

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Printul_Noptii yeah it will be good to see some stalker2 footage, i believe they are using a new engine (correct me if im wrong), so it will be great to see how it turns out.

weedman1985
weedman1985

@warhawk-geeby Have you played the original? I thought the same way before I did. If you know me, I'm the sort of person who doesn't hand out praise like candy, but Metro 2033 really does stand out in the crowd and excels mostly in building an atmosphere. Don't dismiss a game before you actually play it. Sometimes even the simplest of ideas make a game special. Remember that the concept behind a game doesn't matter as much as the presentation.

Printul_Noptii
Printul_Noptii

I absolutely loved Metro 2033 this is a day one buy for me :] I am also very eager to see some screens from STALKER 2.

Johan8
Johan8

why would I turn off the lights if I can´t see a damn thing? Better give some night vision equipment ya know?

evilgofor
evilgofor

Now, I loved the first game, (I've played through 12 times) but I'm really looking forward to improvements and hope they don't take anything good (like the feel) from the next game.

kennythomas26
kennythomas26

I seriously can't to play this game, but I really got to get my hands on the last game.

Barighm
Barighm

Loved the book and atmosphere of the game. Wish I finished it, but the game glitched and put me in an unwinnable situation and for some weird reason I was not allowed to go back without wiping my save. Seriously flawed game with numerous issues, but it's definitely very unique and can hardly be labled "yet another shooter".

rigzzsy
rigzzsy

i played 2033 5 times and didn't encounter any 'flaws', and i thought the stealth system was spot on hope they didn't take anything away from last light for the 3D though, 3D is balls

DITHRICH
DITHRICH

stealth is still broken by what i see but everything can change.

hortont
hortont

I think what steelmouth was trying to say is that the first game was for 360 and Windows, both somehow related to Microsoft, thus not truly seeming like a multi-platform game. With the sequel being released on PS3 and Wii-U it's not so much of a 'exclusive.' Just my take on things. But all-in-all, I'm glad to see improvements are being made, the last one was fun and immersed me, hopefully this one will take it another step further!

Rovelius
Rovelius

Ok well watching a few videos of Last Light made go out and buy 2033 for PC. Been playing it for a few hours at maxed settind on Direct X 11 and I've got to say... WHAT THE HELL TOOK ME SO LONG TO BUY THIS FREAKING MASTERPIECE!? If Last Light is actually gonna be better than this... wow.

Goods_Merchant
Goods_Merchant

I'd like to see where this game goes, if they can remedy the flaws of the original this may turn out to be a great story with haunting atmosphere plus polish.

tgchan
tgchan

looks scary ;( I am still in trauma aftrer old vaults from fallout xD

bags123
bags123

I like the first and the atmosphere was great. I could get past most of the issues but the only thing that really got me was the stealth parts... So if they fix that one thing it'll be most definitely on my to do list

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

oh and i i like that there might not be a HUD, i think for a setting like this it would give better atmosphere due to increased realism...cluttered screens can sometimes make you feel detached from the experience, so having nothing should help bring you into it more.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

loved the book Metro 2033, didn't buy the game though...i think when this is released i will buy both games. and im really hoping that an English version of metro 2034 will be released sometime, or else im going to have to learn Russian xD

skyvongola13
skyvongola13

like the first one, i hope the second one is going to be great

cjf187x
cjf187x

Game looks sweet. Looking forward to it. I loved Metro 2033, minus a few issues, it was a great game.

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

Hey PS3 guys, you are lucky enough to play this. Stop complaining!

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Hmmm.. Hardly looks set to redefine the world of FPS? Looks pretty standard, it is a bloody noisy game though I'll give it that :p Also the whole 'shooting lights out' thing.. eh? That's been around in games ever since the days of Syphon Filter and Splinter Cell. Nout special.

j0abell
j0abell

2033 was decent, but felt a bit too much like just another shooter. I liked playing it in its native language though - that made it feel a little more interesting and unique. Hope I can do the same with this one.

archiasif
archiasif

Love this game, amazing graphics quality, gameplay needs to be more improved.

TevoxZi
TevoxZi

@strawberry9 Metro: Last Light isn't, nor was 2033 published by Activision, you're simply on the wrong page. It doesn't say Call of Duty anywhere, does it? Metro: Last Light is developed by 4A Games and published by THQ, just like the prequel. So your point is invalid.

Vaultboy-101
Vaultboy-101

 @darth_sedus RAGE? Please. There are far better opportunities for the genre that haven't even been touched.