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E3 2011: Metro Last Light (Impressions)

by: Chuck -
More On: E3 2011 Metro: Last Light
Developer: THQ/4A Games
Release Window/Date: 2012
What's polished: Awesome environments are back, still feels well crafted, good graphical jump from the first game
What needs polish: Wondering if some of the things that made the first game special are lost (ammo scarcity)

Metro 2033 was one of the nicer surprises in recent memories. The game came out of nowhere and shocked gamers with its great writing, depressing world, and extreme difficulty. The game was set in a post apocalyptic Moscow where nuclear war forced residents down into the Russian subway system to ride things out. Over time factions have formed in the various stations and things were made worse when the subways were overrun by telepathic mutants called Dark Ones. You played Artyom, a hero who must figure out what’s going on and fight through the various factions to solve the problem.

Sensing a good thing the folks at THQ have enlisted 4A games to work on Metro:Last Light,  a sequel to the game that will be hitting shelves sometime in 2012. The game will shore up the original games flaws (improved AI, better stealth) and work on making the game a little more accessible (i.e. ratchet back on the difficulty). One of the big things in the first game was that ammunition was currency and I’m not sure that’s the case in the second as I watched the guy in the demo do a bit more spray and pray than you would think.

The demo THQ showed at E3 started off with the extended E3 trailer THQ released right before the show. We learn that while Artyom has taken care of the Dark Ones and things are getting better above ground (blue skies are returning) things below ground are falling apart as a civil war between the factions is brewing.

At the start of the demo Artyom and a friend are breaking into a Reich stronghold to rescue a prisoner. As you would imagine the Reich are the Nazi faction in the game and aren’t too keen about giving up their prisoner. As Artyom sneaks in he takes out lights to sneak past guards or to sneak up behind them to kill them quickly and silently. You can run and gun if you want but this method seemed to make life a little easier although I’m not sure it’s something I have the patience for.

We fast forwarded a bit and it turns out that Artyom and company have been discovered so they merge into a crowd of Reich at a political rally. Your partner forces his way through the dense crowd ahead of you which creates a nice path for you to walk though. Eventually you’re spotted and forced to flee. As you’re about to escape Artyom is shot and your partner drags you to a cart where you take off in chase of the prison train.

After a brief but intense sequence in the carts you come across the train and leap from the cart onto the train where another firefight ensued and the demo ends. We also got a look at some of the new mutants in the game, a giant ape like creature (which you can see briefly in the trailer above) that charges at you until you take it down.

The demo did a nice job of showing off the new graphics engine and all the pretty new lighting features it supports. The game does look like it’s going to make fans of the original game very happy but I’m interested to see how 4A balances the things that made the old game special with making the game accessible to casual shooter fans who will be drawn in the writing and atmosphere of the game.