June 7, 2012 by Paul Curtin
With so many shooters coming out each month over the past few years, it’s easy to see how the FPS genre could become repetitive for someone who plays everything. 4A Games is aware of this and made it very clear today in our hands-off E3 demo that they’re doing their best to combat shooter fatigue with unique survival-horror gameplay in Metro: Last Light that will feel fresh even to hardcore FPS gamers that think they’ve already seen it all.
Although the post-apocalyptic cities in Last Light look very similar to those found in Fallout 3, the team at 4A has done a great job of still giving the game its own look and feel with an insane amount of detail and polish. Even in its pre-alpha stage, the game looks amazing. 4A explained that everything has been built from the ground up, and it really shows. In case you still haven’t already seen the latest live-action trailer, it’s obvious that both 4A and THQ are trying to take the Metro series to the next level with a higher production value than ever before.
Right from the start of our demo of the campaign we were shown the importance of survival. The main character set his watch’s timer to five minutes, and it became apparent that in order to survive, he and his companion needed to get moving quickly if they didn’t want to run out of their limited supply of oxygen. As the two characters began making their way through the fallout of a ruined city with dark clouds in the sky and lightning crashing down all around them, acid rain began to pour down. The player was forced to manually wipe his mask off multiple times in order to clear his view, and his companion remarked that he could feel it burning through his suit and raced to shelter in the nearby ruins of an airplane that had crash-landed.
As the two characters made their way through the inside of the plane, they came across the dead bodies of the passengers and many cobwebs with huge spiders that needed to be burned with a torch. After the spiders, the game’s survival horror elements really began to kick into full swing when quick glimpses of the pre-crash passengers appear over the corpses. Once finally making it to the cockpit the game switched to a flashback cutscene that let players relive the crash alongside the pilots and witness a haunting view of nuclear missiles launching and mushroom clouds from a mile high as the plane lost power and altitude.
Once the cutscene ended and the two left the plane, it’s made clear that the acid rain, spiders, and flashbacks are the least of their problems. Knowing what’s most likely coming, the player is guided by his wiser companion to take cover and stay quiet. Shortly after rushing to cover, a herd of mutated four-legged rat monsters the size of tigers begin sprinting by. It’s here that we’re given the sense of helplessness; there was no way we were about to go all Rambo and take out the pack of what seemed like hundreds, so staying out of their sight was the only option other than a quick death.
After progressing further through the level and scavenging everything they could find similar to Fallout and BioShock, the two encountered even more mutated beasts, one of which was a winged creature that was able to swoop down and grab the player, carry him high up into the air and eventually drop him down a little further away. Once being swarmed by even more rat mutants, the two fall back into a nearby shelter and begin fighting waves of the mutants one after another as they wait for other humans to open the door to the shelter. As they blasted the beasts away with shotguns and fought for their lives, we noticed more and more monster blood splashing over the player’s visor, again forcing him to manually wipe his mask in order to clear the view. Overrun and with not much time left on their oxygen, the two are able to survive for the time being when the shelter doors are finally opened by other survivors.
The dynamic weather effects, character animations, and attention to every little detail make what we saw in our preview look better than most of the other games we saw this year at E3. It will be very interesting to watch the game as it evolves throughout the stages of development as it looks to only get better. 4A said that they hope we went home tonight and had nightmares due to what we witnessed in the game, but we’ll be dreaming about finally getting our hands on the full version of Metro: Last Light hopefully sometime in Q1 2013 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.