Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light Hands-On Preview - Living Up to its Promise
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It’s been almost two years since Metro: Last Light was first announced. Since then the Metro 2033 sequel has been on quite a journey. Subject to numerous delays and faced with possible limbo following the dramatic collapse of publisher THQ, you could be forgiven for thinking the 4A-developed shooter might display the odd war wound.

In fact, when we saw Last Light in action late last year, we were concerned. Despite 4A claiming that all was well, the press still hadn’t been allowed to actually play the game. It looked great, but with release just around the corner we were keen to go hands-on. When the press is prevented from playing a game, there’s usually a problem.

It was a relief then to sit down for an extended session with the game recently and see that our worries were unfounded. Metro: Last Light looks set to fulfil its promise; offering substantially improved stealth and combat while retaining the grim, dark atmosphere that made the original so unique and compelling.

A recap for the uninitiated: Metro: Last Light takes place in a world where an atomic blast has decimated Moscow and forced its survivors into the city’s underground network of rail stations. With food, warmth and comfort at a premium and grotesque monsters prowling through the darkness, life in the metro is nightmarish.

Within this world, two factions dominate: the far right Nazis and the far left Communists. Present in the first game, tensions between these groups have escalated to the degree that civil war threatens to wipe the last vestiges of humanity from the earth.

Caught between these two factions is Artyom, a Russian citizen born just a few days before the atomic blast. Haunted by his actions at the climax of the first game, Artyom is seeking redemption. There’s hope - the last light referred to in the title - and only Artyom can deliver it.

Our demo began proper with Artyom attempting to escape a station crawling with Nazis, with the bulk of the action taking place in a cavernous engineering station. We played through the section twice, making sure to take different approaches and test out Metro: Last Light’s revised stealth and combat. From previous demo sessions we already knew that the game drips with atmosphere, finally we got to feel how it plays.

Stealth is ultra-forgiving. A click of a button and you duck down, your low-profile indicated by a light on your watch. From this position you can skulk around, slipping behind walls and breaking lines of sight. The most important factor in remaining undetected, however, is creating shadows and sticking to them.

Broadly speaking each area of this type has a central fuse box. Flick the switches and the area drops into near darkness, making it almost impossible to be spotted. Even when approaching enemies from a fairly direct angle, they won’t see you unless you wander into their light source (most have torches) or you do something silly like open fire noisily.

On paper it may seem far too easy to sneak around a level and perhaps it is. But in practice, it’s great fun. Combined with some properly gruesome, knife-based finishing moves; stalking around the darkness, downing Nazis methodically is a huge improvement over the last game’s muddled and dodgy AI-riddled stealth.

This works particularly well with the level design, which when it opens up offers plenty of choice. The level in question had ladders, raised platforms and vents to crawl around in, in addition to the nooks and crannies of the floor itself. It’s no Deus Ex, it’s not trying to be, but you’ve still got a pleasing amount of freedom.

The other approach is just to go in blasting. In Metro 2033 this would have been a slightly more arduous task but thankfully this time out the guns feels more responsive and satisfying. There’s a shotgun, for example, a short-barrelled bastard that pukes out death in the most wonderful way. It feels great and when you pull the left trigger it spits out both barrels at once, emulsifying anything in its path. Present in the first game, its implementation in Last Light is a big improvement.

Another of the things Metro 2033 got wrong was weapon degradation and the dual ammo system. The guns were supposed to be shitty, liable to break down without much notice. Meanwhile, the only way to make your weapons more potent was to equip military grade ammo, but it doubled as currency so you usually stuck to the crappy stuff. These factors fit the game thematically, but as a result combat wasn’t much fun.

In Last Light these factors remain, but 4A promises that the balance has been more delicately handled. Weapons will still degrade and the dual ammo system in still in place, but not at the expense of the gameplay. However, for the purposes of our demo we were deliberately stocked up with military grade ammunition by the devs, and we swapped out weapons often enough to avoid any breakages. So the legitimacy of these claims are yet to be tested.

Away from the Nazi ranks and we ventured into the connecting tunnels of the metro, in an attempt to reach the next station. These tunnels are crawling with nasties and we were forced to fight through spider-infested catacombs. Again light plays a part as your only real protection against these scuttling monsters. Point your torch at them and they skulk away, eventually flipping onto their back and dying. We only worked this out after wasting a bunch of ammo, mind.

At one point a spider pounced with such supreme timing that we jumped out of our chairs, swallowing down a girly yelp. Far less sophisticated than the more open levels against human enemies, these sections dial up the horror.

We’ve been shown about five demos of Metro: Last Light since it was announced. During those sessions we’ve seen tight, scripted action, tense stealth, overground shoot-outs and underground horror. We’ve seen brilliantly realised, populated hubs, eerily quiet tunnels and terrifying flashbacks. We’ve seen all the evidence of a great game, but in this latest demo, we finally got to play it. Based on our session, Metro: Last Light is everything we hoped it would be.

Metro: Last Light is out in North America on May 14th and Europe on May 17th, 2013.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #1 by BurnTheWelsh
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 10:01:07 AM
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Sounds amazing, I loved the first one. This one sounds just as dark and eary!

no more bullet collecting though!

Forum Posts: 1593
Comment #2 by H0p3sfalL
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 10:04:27 AM
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Happy they scraped the MP.

Forum Posts: 2200
Comment #3 by cheevo360
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 10:05:01 AM
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"Living Up to its Promise" I agreed yah. This 2nd series will be of course. I watched so many trailers and I loved it. I hope they not screwed up once game launches this May. :)

Forum Posts: 755
Comment #4 by Hurricane Of 87
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 10:38:17 AM
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I'll wait for the disappointing trilogy capper that ruins what made the franchise great.

Seriously though, sounds interesting, haven't played the first so this should have a few surprises in store.

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #5 by creaper210
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 10:47:27 AM
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So, how will the story work? It's been awhile since I played the first one, but I think there are two different endings, aren't there? I think it was the good morale ending that was really hard to get? But I cannot remember exactly.

Forum Posts: 77
Comment #6 by Jerric
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 11:10:20 AM
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@5 laast I read, they took the normal ending as canon, likely cause the harder to get light ending implies things would get better, and likely not need a sequel. I never read the book, but I also recall reading that the light ending wasn't in it either.

Forum Posts: 7116
Comment #7 by Opiate42
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 11:27:40 AM
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This makes me happy. Very very happy.

Forum Posts: 77
Comment #8 by Jerric
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 11:40:21 AM
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Also, really hoping ranger mode comes stock with this one. That DLC for the first game was awesome, most fun/challenge I've had in a fps since bioshock.

Forum Posts: 11692
Comment #9 by BiggD
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 12:07:47 PM
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Solid hands-on! Now all we need is that achievement list to see what we're gonna be tasked with during this badass game!

Forum Posts: 262
Comment #10 by cab0218
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 12:11:17 PM
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Ranger mode will be with all new copys.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #11 by t Khrist
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 12:28:14 PM
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@1 good to see you not trolling the comments. But why do you say no bullet collecting? The article clearly states that military ammo will be in the game and again double as curency.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #12 by tazaf
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 01:23:35 PM
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What ? There were weapons degradation in Metro 2033 ? Never happened to me, though... weird ! And sad, beacause I would have loved it.
Anyway, I'me waiting for this sequel since I've finished the first one (which was amazing in every point) and I'm glad to read that Last Light seems at least as good as Metro 2033.

Forum Posts: 1158
Comment #13 by Emperor 95
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 02:02:26 PM
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cant wait for this. i loved the first one but i had no idea that weapons degraded. nothing ever broke!

i seriously recommend the book though. its not as action packed as the game. atmosphere and description are great and eeriness is set to max, with characters that are intriguing and full of depth. im still waiting for the translation of Metro 2034! its been out for 4 years.

Forum Posts: 210
Comment #14 by High Lord Sigma
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 02:50:50 PM
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It's good to hear that this game looks set to right the flaws of the first game without sacrificing the soul of what made the original so admired to begin with. Now, I just have to beat the game on Ranger Hardcore, which might be an issue because I've run out of filters right after you leave Polis.

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #15 by WRENCHO
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 06:55:25 PM
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hell yes, cant wait to play this with the lights off at night and headset all the wa!y up

Forum Posts: 1685
Comment #16 by EMP
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 07:36:22 PM
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The first was pretty unique (why I liked it). Looking forward to playing this.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #17 by BurnTheWelsh
Friday, March 22, 2013 @ 02:51:03 AM
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@11 the bullet collection achievement in the first one. You clearly havent played it. And thanks for the compliment.

agree with everyone - not trolling
not agreeing - trolling

sad acts

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #18 by Malakarn
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 08:20:02 AM
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@17 shut the fuck up you egotistic cunt.

Forum Posts: 60
Comment #19 by XS Scarab
Thursday, March 28, 2013 @ 09:03:20 PM
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@18 well damn. x) lol. still rude tho

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #20 by vitare
Monday, April 01, 2013 @ 11:10:44 PM
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The original metro is the only game i have ever watched someone play from start to finish and not get bored at all.

Forum Posts: 499
Comment #21 by AirborneRichard
Saturday, April 06, 2013 @ 02:32:40 PM
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Why the first guy get so many tumbs down? Just because he posted his oppinion or remarks.. well back to topic! Can,t wait to get this game, and i already seen the pre-order stuff you get, so def pre-order this right now! Glad to see after THQ broke up this not has been scrapped and been taken over :)

Forum Posts: 751
Comment #22 by Darkforce412
Monday, April 08, 2013 @ 10:45:45 AM
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this sounds like this game is going to get the respect it deserves. It is one of the most underrated games out their.

Forum Posts: 3574
Comment #23 by Shiftie
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 @ 01:22:14 PM
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I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!! Looks sick :)

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Game Info
4A Games
Deep Silver


US May 14, 2013
Europe May 17, 2013

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