Metro Last Light Preview
Sneak preview. Metro Last Light is a hugely anticipated survival horror first person shooter set in dystopian Russia and due for release in 2013.
Russia is famed for having one of the most beautiful, affordable and well-organised metro systems in the world. Each metro system is different, but each one is a triumph of design. Filled with textured marble and chandeliers, russian metro stations are palaces available to all.
Based on classic Russian sci-fi literature, Metro Last Light sees Moscow hit by a nuclear bomb. As a siren wails out its six minute warning, the residents’ only hope is the comparative safety of the russian metro system. Game developers worked closely with contacts in Russia and the Ukraine to build a world where the metro system is divided into a maze of independent city states holding factions of the type of residents who might have fled to a metro station in a particular locale when the warning sounded.
Metro Last Light live action trailer
A year has passed since Metro 2033, the lauded original in the franchise. Mutants abound in the metro’s kippled catacombs and city ruins, but they’re not the only threat to survival: fear and the dark can do strange things to human society. Though the game’s palette is suitably grim and dystopian, this sequel is set in spring and you’ll see touches of that: scrubby plants have a hint of flowery green, and expertly rendered poisoned skies allow an occasional shaft of sunlight to peep through. The game gives you the feeling that time passes, making gameplay more immersive and potential achievement that much sweeter.
Okay, Metro Last Light looks gorgeous. A darker palette than Fallout New Vegas, with amazing rendition and texture on everything from cloth to cracked wall tiles. As well as creeping around in tunnels we got a taste of topside and the rain coming into your face and splashing on your visor was starkly beautiful, if hazardous to health. From a stealth position we got to enjoy the trashed scenery before venturing forth through herding mutants to another safe-point. We had a game-guide on hand, our very own Strider the Game Ranger, who pointed out that substantial use has been made of lighting to add variety and veritas. Moon-glow mushrooms, the muted yellow of gas lamps and cold bare strip lighting are just a few of the ways in which a game set almost entirely underground is lit so that each area has its own distinct feel. As we moved from area to area, it was evident that in spite of the subtle but effective variations the game felt like a cohesive, well-structured whole.
Developers were insistent that even though this is primarily a first person shooter, the game has to have a strong storyline and feel like an achievable odyssey. There are no chapters which see you first on a train, then a plane, then Africa, then some villain guy’s lair. Each check point and story delivery zone inches you forward at a believable pace. The game has been designed to appeal to those who like to binge-game, and by the end of it the developers want you to experience walking the territory on your own two feet in a believable (and therefore more harrowing) odyssey. The first rule of survival horror is ‘make the gamer feel like they’re there’. Silent Hill, Dead Space and Bioshock all knew how to do it. With judicious control of story, gameplay and visuals this game intends to make you feel like you’re having the post-apocalyptic experience of a lifetime.
The voice acting is currently all done by non-russian speakers. It sounds the part, and Strider makes it clear that the game producers tried hard to bring voice actors over from the Motherland but visa restrictions were against them. However, plans are afoot to offer an option whereby all the voice acting is either in english with russian accents or in russian with subtitles according to the gamer’s preference. Genuinely exciting stuff for gamers who like to play into the small hours and get as deep into a game’s atmosphere as they can.
This is a first person shooter, not an RPG. You won’t get choice trees in the manner of Mass Effect or Dragon Age. However, Metro Last Light has a real focus on emergent gameplay. Those who played Metro 2033 will recall that they felt they were playing a high-quality linear game, and it was only when they shared experiences with other gamers in water cooler moments that they realised they were all playing a slightly different one. The game you get is controlled not through conversation but through very subtle choices you have no idea you’re making. Strider launched into a fascinating discussion of psychological experiments that claim to be testing for one thing, but are actually an exploration of something completely different, ensuring that test subjects won’t be able to skew results through psychological second-guessing. In Metro 2033 this was something of a first and only discovered by gamers weeks after its release. With the sequel, this cat is out of the bag but that’s what you can expect. There’s no point in psychologically second-guessing how to twist the game to your liking. You simply play Metro Last Light as yourself, making your own choices without even realising, and the game accommodates the choices you’ve unwittingly made. Intriguing stuff.
The gameplay looks hot. You get a lot of control over how you approach situations. You get a solid range of weapons and there are plenty of scenarios to stealth through without resorting to violence at all. Strider pointed out that humans are far more intelligent and devious than mutants, and you might want to take that into account. On-screen status is seamlessly immersive: Just your hand and the weapon you’re holding at the time. In terms of status, that’s all you need to see, so the screen is filled with what’s happening rather than with “hey soldier, how you doin’?”. Action feels taut but achievable, and check-points not only expand storyline but build on atmosphere.
2013 seems a long time to wait for a potential game of the year contender, but if this sounds like your type of game you can make preparations by getting the original Metro 2033 released in 2010. It’s a good-looking, fine-playing first person shooter / survival horror and an ideal way to brush up on your eastern bloc dystopia before finding out what’ll happen in 2034.
Metro Last Light will be available in 2013 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.