E3 2012: Metro Last Light preview
Last year at E3, Metro: Last Light was shown off as more of an action-packed game. The demo, to the displeasure of some, was more combat-oriented, showing people THQ could keep up with the rest of the shooters out there in terms of traditional first-person action.
This year, however, THQ’s Metro sequel resembled its former self, going back to that “Metro” fear we loved so much. There was a little less action with more emphasis on survival horror elements.
To do so, developer 4A Games paid particular attention to the survival horror aspect of the game, including the elements of a true Eastern European game. This included Russian mysticism and paranormal activity, limited vision due to debris, and other things of that nature.
The developers showed us key features that help create that eerie feel like manually hand-cranking your lamp to create light and manually wiping the debris, blood, and whatever else ends up on your gas mask. Speaking of gas mask, another element that creates a sense of urgency is the timed gas mask in which you must constantly find new air filters before the time runs out.
Scouring through the dark underground corridors guided only by the light of your lamp while following a fellow comrade, we made our way through the underground, encountering mutilated, bloodied bodies and scavenging for items. At one point, while salvaging the items from a corpse, a strange looking spider creature emerged from the corpse and crawled onto our mask. Artyom proceeded to grab it and squish it, causing blood to spill onto our mask effectively showing off the new wipe mechanic. With a simple press of the button we wiped the mask, but again, it’s one of those features that add to the immersion of the game.
After a bit of time underground, our two characters made their way outside. There was a brief minute of taking in the destroyed city environment after the post-nuclear events of the first game. Again, this showed off 4A Games' attention to detail and environment.
Despite the game’s overall grey color palate, Metro: Last Light looks beautiful. Peeking through the dark clouds, the sun expanded the colors to a yellowish green. It was brief however, as clouds quickly overtook the sky. A sudden downfall of rain occurred and we were forced to move, and wipe the drops from our mask.
Taking shelter in a plane, Artyom and his partner took some time to investigate the crash. While investigating the plane, the unfortunate victims who were still strapped in their chairs flashed back when they were alive. Upon entering the cockpit, the game cut to a flashback cut-scene which showed us the events just moments before the plane crashed. Some pretty intense footage of the bombs flying working in harmony with the voice acting and music created an experience that was both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
As we exited the plane we witnessed dozens of Nosalis, mutant scavengers, running away from the storm. Unfortunately, a few stragglers noticed us and we were forced to fight for survival. Our protagonist and his partner made our way through the rubble, blasting our way through the Nosalis.
Unfortunately, a small bug in the game prevented us from moving any further in the demo, but lucky for us, the developers acted out what happened. While we were all great sports about it, and what they explained happened next sounds awesome – and definitely makes me want to experience it when the game releases.
Apparently the two characters continue to fight their way down through the city until reaching the Metro – only to be pinned down at its entrance. While it sounds like the end may be near, the Metro opens up revealing two soldiers equipped with flamethrowers who burn the creatures to death. We didn’t get to see this play out, but it sounded intense.
Despite the hiccup, THQ and 4A Games proved they could create a game that has both action and survival-horror elements. The constant wiping of the mask, cranking of the lamp, and finding air filters may get annoying and tedious as the game progresses, but they do create a sense of urgency during the gameplay. Action sequences looked to play out nicely, even though they resemble any other first person shooter. Overall, it was a nice presentation, and Metro: Last Light is definitely something to keep your eye on moving forward.