Metro: Last Light Pre-E3 Preview

The news of a direct sequel to Metro: 2033 may not phase the masses this year due to the game’s cult audience, however Metro: Last Light not only features many improvements over its predecessor, but also some major additions that could potentially draw in a much larger crowd by the time of it’s release in 2012.

THQ’s pre-E3 presentation of the game opened immediately with executiver producer Dean Sharpe, and THQ head of communications, Huw Beynon, telling a room full of journalists about their “flawed masterpiece”, Metro 2033, and acknowledging faults with the AI and weapons present in the game. We were then assured that the studio has been working on fixing these for the sequel and has rebuilt the AI to make it more advanced, as well as improving the weapons in Last Light to make them feel much “meatier”. Hit animations in the game are also now much “more realistic”, making it clear that 4A Games aren’t just putting all of their eggs in the story basket, they’re very eager to make the gameplay and visual side of things as great as possible too.

After this, there is a quick but well deserved boast about how Metro 2033’s graphics made it THE game that people tested their computers on, and we we’re told that Last Light aims to continue the tradition by having the best graphics around – on consoles too.

Huw Beynon then went on to inform us of some changes that we could expect in Last Light when compared to its predecessor, most notably the more cinematic feel and increased level of action that the developers are aiming to include in the game. We were assured however, that the “spirit” of the original game would not be tampered with and that Last Light would still feature everything that fans loved previously. On the same note, we were also assured that the studio are not looking to “Westernise” the game and are keen to keep it feeling very Russian.

As we waited for the demonstration to begin, we were also given some information about the post apocalyptic world that was about to be shown in Last Light. Each station in the metro has now evolved into its own mini city, and whilst some have an uneasy truce with each other and share resources such as ammo, several wars have broken out between others. Unfortunately, heading out of the metro system isn’t the safest choice to make either as the air above has become poisonous leaving the only way to surface as wearing a suit designed for the purpose.

The game demonstration started with a camera panning across the post apocalyptic Russian wasteland until we arrived at two people about to make their way down a hatch into the metro system. Gameplay began as we were climbing down the ladder into the metro, and as the hatch above closed slowly blocking out the light, it was clear to see that the signature Metro 2033 lighting effects were back and just as good as ever. The player then went on to demonstrate this further by shooting out the lights lining the walls below, which made it possible to then take advantage of the darkness and stealthily hide in the shadows to avoid two nearby enemies.

After a quick stealth assassination for one guy, and several bullets to the spine for the other, one could really appreciate another great part of the Metro series. Like it’s predecessor, Last Light allows players to play the game in their own way, whether that be running into a room with all guns blazing, or stealthily sneaking around a base attracting as little attention as possible. At this point the player decided to opt for the former option which induced an inevitable rush of enemies firing at us; the cover provided by a nearby wall didn’t appear to help either as it ominously began to chip away due to bullet damage. All turned out fine in the end though thanks to a conveniently placed lantern (setting fire to an enemy), a huge minigun discovered in a room upstairs, and the standard ass-kicking that goes hand-in-hand with wielding a shotgun. Another weapon that we managed to catch a glimpse of during the demonstration was a WW2-style submachine gun which made quick work of the enemies.

The demonstration then jumped to another part of the level which saw the player and an ally push through a crowd of people at a political rally. Inevitably it wasn’t long before being recognised, so after a quick gunshot in the air, the player makes their escape thanks to the ensuing chaos. It was during this epic chase that we got our first taste of the newly talked about action/cinematic side of the game as the camera shook and bullets flew past us in a style which strongly reminded me of the Call of Duty series. After getting badly injured and squeezing under a closing door, we managed to discover a small train carriage in the next room and limp into it thanks to the only enemy in the room cowering on the floor from our ally’s pointed gun – cue the vehicle shoutout section!

As the carriage started moving, the bullets started spraying, and the enemies crashed into walls creating explosions when driving their own vehicles – it was all I’ve come to expect from a FPS nowadays. Eventually the level got to a point where we had to make a jump onto a parallel train for the sake of the mission. Unfortunately this was when our ally decided he’d had enough and we were forced to watch as he continued down the original path on the stolen carriage – thanks for the help buddy! The demo ended with several more enemies meeting their maker in the train carriage, before an explosion upfront caused the windows to shatter and our character to black out.

I have to say that as someone who has never really been interested in gameplay from Metro before, instead opting for the more generic military shooters on the market, I was very surprised and pleased with what I discovered in Metro: Last Light, although I’m not so sure that the original fanbase from Metro 2033 will be pleased to hear that.

The Q&A session afterward revealed that using ammo as currency – one of the interesting story-based ideas from Metro 2033, may or may not return – it has yet to be decided by the developers. The big piece of information revealed was the news that Metro: Last Light will be featuring a multiplayer mode this time around. According to Huw Beynon, there were plans and even a prototype built for multiplayer in Metro 2033, but due to the lack of resources and time available when developing the game, it was scrapped in the final build. 4A Games are building the multiplayer mode in Last Light from the ground up, and they teased that they have some very exciting ideas for the lighting and destruction in the game.

Metro: Last Light won’t be available until 2012, but you can expect a lot more information (including an extended version of the demonstration I witnessed) to surface before then, starting with E3 in a week.

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