by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
If there’s one thing that 4A Games got right the first time, it was creating a compelling atmosphere. I’ve played dozens of apocalyptic games before, but very few made me really feel like I was there as much as Metro 2033 did. Skies were dark, there were constant nuclear winds, and mutants could always be around the corner. Ammunition was rare, as was power for a flashlight, so mere survival was a more realistic goal than thriving. Metro: Last Light looks to expand on this in a natural way, providing something new, familiar, and fitting for the game’s universe. First, the nuclear winter is starting to clear. It’s still far from safe, and protection is required at all times when above ground, but clouds occasionally clear enough for the sun to peek through, and mother nature’s foliage has started to reclaim some of her lost ground. This more diverse landscape will be put to good use, as approximately 40 percent of the game will reportedly take place above the metros this time around.
The gameplay of Metro: Last Light looks to improve upon its predecessor, which was criticized for suffering from clunky shooting controls. Shooting things is still important, so gunplay has been refined to provide tighter and more responsive control. Don’t worry though, the series isn’t going to turn into Call of Duty: Apocalypse. The game is still very much about trying to survive. Players will need to utilize the darkness, to move undetected by enemies if they want any chance of making it out. Thankfully the game is set up in such a way - with powerful foes and scarce ammunition – that it simply doesn’t allow run and gun to be a viable option. Gameplay is also directly tied into the game’s atmosphere. Wherever possible, floating HUD objects are placed naturally in the game, such as Artyom’s watch which tells him how much battery power he currently has. An option will even be available to remove all HUD elements completely, drawing the player even further into the experience. And like before, players will have to manually wipe off and replace filters in their gas mask. I loved how the immersion elements worked in Metro 2033, and I’m excited to see them up the ante this time around.
Different in a good way
The apocalypse is a crowded setting in the world of video games, but luckily it looks like Metro: Last Light is doing its best to differentiate itself from the crowd. Only time will tell if the game is able to capitalize on its promises, or if it will be a shadow of something that could have been great. There are still a lot of unknowns, specifically how good the story will be without any guidance from the source material. It is there that the game’s success will launch or plummet. For those who are excited to don the gas mask once again, March can’t come soon enough.