The post-apocalyptic world that 4A Games has created for Metro: Last Light is not the usual fare that you've seen in some recent games such as Rage and Fallout: New Vegas. This one is dark and full of horrors. The few survivors left alive in Moscow are riddled with psychic visions that have drawn the dwindling populace to insanity.
While at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the industry's biggest trade show of the year, we got to see the action-oriented gameplay of Metro: Last Light and how fast-paced and polished it appeared to be. But this year, the focus of what we see shows off something completely new. The game has the best of both worlds when it comes to being a modern shooter.
We have the streamlined, visceral combat everyone has come to know and love, but if you aren't smart with your resources, then you are in for one heck of a ride.
Supplies are scarce in the underground world of the metro. Whether it be ammo, health, or even something as simple as the battery that charges your flashlight, when you run out, that item is gone for good. The empty click of an ammo stick may be more frightful than the mutated monster you face in front of you.
When below ground, navigating through the empty tunnels of Moscow's subway system is a blast. Unless you're fortunate enough to find a charge for your flashlight, you'll be left with just a meager lighter to illuminate your way through the dark and gloomy tunnels before you.
The horrible feeling of terror that rests in the bottom of your stomach will be with you during every step forward. You never know what might be just around the corner. You may find some extra bullets for your gun, or you may find a mutated human who wants to kill you.
The game may be one large, scripted adventure, but the level of immersion 4A Games has brought to the table is fantastic. The guts from a gunned-down monster will splatter all over your visor if you shot him to close to yourself, causing you to manually wipe the gory mess clean.
The little moments like those are what really counts.
When above ground, the game takes a twist in the opposite direction. Everything you've been doing underground no longer applies to the world above. It feels and looks like a completely new game.
Stepping outside for the first time will force your character to shield his eyes from the blinding rays of the sun after being secluded to the murky depths of the metro. And from the moment the door behind you closes, it is a race against time to find what you are looking for and get the heck out!
Roaming about the fragmented remains of a nuclear blasted Moscow brings new and more formidable hazards to the table. In just the blink of an eye, a flying mutant may have picked you up and dropped you to your death or a mutated citizen could have swarmed you from behind.
All the while, a clock is slowly ticking down on the watch strapped to your wrist. You have two minutes until that timer hits zero and if you haven't reached the underground before then, that glorious, nuclear free air you've become so accustomed to will be gone. Air filters can be found out in the harsh, city environment, but I wouldn't ever count on finding one during my mission.
For fans of the first game, you are once again thrust into the shoes of protagonist Artyom, and the events pick up from whence they ended in Metro 2033. But as a huge supporter for the first game, what intrigues me the most about this sequel is 4A Games' continued emphasis on storytelling. They "want people to remember their time here [in the game]," and from what I've seen so far, the game seems poised to leave a dent in my social life.
Prepare for the apocalypse early next year right from the comfort of your Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC.