When 4A Games and THQ released Metro 2033 back in early 2010, they weren’t betting that it would turn out to be a surprise hit and spawn a dedicated following. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. The game proved to be the start of what could become a very successful IP, prompting the development of a sequel that would receive more attention and, consequently, be even better. Metro: Last Light is that sequel, and it’s riding on a newfound wave of confidence from both its publisher and developer. Today, we’ll be recapping all the major info released about the game so far. Get ready to descend into this preview.
Last Light’s story picks up one year after the ‘canon’ ending of 2033, making the game set in 2034, naturally. While much of the story is still under wraps right now, what we do know is that it is loosely based on author Dmitry Glukhovsky’s sequel Metro 2034, and that protagonist Artyom will be returning, this time having been promoted to a Ranger in the Metro. The Metro, an underground network of caves, mines, and small cities, is a safe haven for the survivors of a devastating nuclear war that occurred in Russia. The various political factions are still warring against each other, and the radiated mutants that roam the Metro outskirts are starting to evolve and become more powerful. Artyom’s quest involves infiltrating and combating enemy factions as well as investigating the new breeds of mutants. The stakes are certainly higher this time around, with the subtitle Last Light referring to Artyom himself. 4A have stated that Half-life 2 is one of their key points of inspiration for the title, so you can expect the same richly detailed world and interesting characters that made that game memorable. If you haven’t played 2033 yet and won’t by the time Last Light hits shelves, worry not; the game will include a recap of 2033’s major plot points for new players.
Like the first game, Last Light will be a fairly linear experience. That’s not at all a bad thing, however, as it allows 4A to imbue the game with the great pacing and atmosphere that was a hallmark of 2033. Although there are many scripted events and NPC allies throughout the game, they won’t take control away from the player as often as many other games in the genre do. Optional secondary objectives are back, which often reward you with items, and they will be about as frequent as they were in 2033. An interesting new change is that of the save system; rather than having a traditional quicksave system like 2033, which 4A said can be easily exploited , Last Light will use a checkpoint system that is akin to any modern shooter. Levels will vary in terms of openness, but there will be chances to take multiple paths in many scenarios. If you like destroying things (I.E: you have a pulse), you’ll also be happy to know that destructible environments are making their way into Last Light. While not as extensive as something like Red Faction: Guerilla or Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Artyom is allowed to break many walls and other surfaces in the game. Don’t forget that wood can catch fire this time, so start thinking about tactically barbecuing your enemies.
Shooting and stealth are still the two main ways to approach combat in this sequel. Little things like the interface and weapon selection system (now a radial menu) are being tweaked and modified. The knife, for example, now has its own button rather than being a selectable weapon. Aiming control and shot feedback are also things that are being addressed by the team. As for the game’s arsenal, you can expect the majority of 2033’s weapons to return in Last Light, along with a few new additions. You’ve no doubt seen the minigun that was featured in the E3 2011 gameplay footage, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Fire grenades are available this time around, and a flamethrower is rumored to be in as well. The weapons, if used extensively, can overheat and even jam this time around. More impressive, however, is the highly touted upgrade system for weapons. Very little is known about the feature right now (we’re still trying to find 4A’s HQ and get ahold of some proper stealthy jumpsuits), but know that the firearms will be customizable to a certain degree.
Speaking of stealthy jumpsuits, one of the biggest complaints people had about the first game was the enemy AI during stealth encounters. Our own Nick Calandra cursed the stealth as the worst aspect of game, as did many other players. 4A has taken note of this and are focusing on Last Light’s AI more than most of the other features. An extended development cycle has allowed the team to rework AI behavior for both humans and mutants, which should lead to less frustrating moments. It must also be said that Last Light will be quite the spooker; 4A does plan to scare you on many occasions thought the campaign, even though there are many more outdoor sections set in the wasteland surface this time around. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull that off.
Among Last Light’s more groundbreaking gameplay mechanics is a morality system that is woven seamlessly into the experience. Unlike the blatant ‘make one of two choices’ moments in games like Infamous and Bioshock, Last Light will feature a morality system that is consistently grey and, for the most part, practically invisible. 4A have stated that making the player aware of morality choices and the impact they’ll have is not good design, as it pulls the player out of the experience and doesn’t make them behave the way they would if asked to make such choices in reality. As such, don’t expect to know exactly when you’re making critical choices in Last Light. You can, however, probably expect multiple endings based on the consequences of your choices.
4A Games have been repeatedly touting that Metro: Last Light will be the best looking game ever at the time of its release. Based on the footage we’ve seen so far, we wouldn’t argue with them, even if Crysis 3 is set to release around the same time. The game is going to be releasing for the PC as well as consoles, and although the PC version will undoubtedly look better if you have a killer rig, the team has stated that console players have a lot to look forward to as well. Check out the latest screenshots and videos of the game to see just how good it looks.
The key to any game’s atmosphere is great sound design; that’s why 4A Games are paying special attention to this area for Metro: Last Light. The entire process for recording and integrating sounds is being revamped; HDR sounds and 3D echo effects are being utilized, which is a fancy way of saying “if you have a surround sound system, you’re going to be hearing complaints from your neighbors.” Voice acting is also receiving a lot more attention from 4A this time around, since some fans had complaints about it in 2033. Finally, Last Light’s score is to be penned by the same composer from 2033, Alexey Omelchuk, which means the soundtrack will be of a similarly high caliber.
When creating a sequel, it’s important not to deviate too far from the predecessor, while still improving on its working formula and trying to incorporate new elements. So far, that looks to be exactly what’s happening with Metro: Last Light. More time, money, and love is going into this sequel, and although we still have a lot to find out about the project, we have no problem expecting great things when the final product emerges into the light.
Make sure to follow OnlySP for more news and details on Metro: Last Light, which releases early 2013 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
THQ is also allowing us to run another promotion for Metro: Last Light. A giveaway will be running from today through the 31st of August, with winners announced on September 4th. The prizes include various different Metro swag, such as T-shirts, posters and yes, even the the fabled gas masks. The RaffleCopter widget below will list all the entry options you have. We will also be giving items out periodically on our forums, so feel free to sign up there. The more you contribute, the better chance you have of winning! The first item will be given away when the Metro page reaches 210,500 likes.
OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY
Brian Fuller – 8/16 – Poster
Timothy Compton – 8/16 – Poster
Edward Davis – 8/19 – Gasmask
NEXT WINNER AT 211, 250 likes on the Metro Facebook page. Make sure you do all the entries for best chance of winning!