Lasting First Impressions
hen financial troubles took THQ through bankruptcy, developer Deep Silver’s game, Metro: Last Light, hung in the balance. Uncertainly was abound as to whether or not the sequel to Metro 2033 would ever see the light of day. When all was said and done, THQ assets were dissolved and bought by other publishers, and Deep Silver found a new home in Koch Media, providing renewed life for Metro: Last Light. Already nearly completed at that time, the finishing touches were applied and now the game finally finds its way onto retail shelves but how does it stack up? We sat down with the game for our obligatory hour to see how it impressed upon us.
Having never played the original Metro 2033, I went into this sequel with an open mind and with some, albiet brief, experience from my hands-on time at PAX East 2012. Since the PAX east gameplaywas in a later stage of the game, I was left still unfamiliar with the basic story or who I was in the game. Metro: Last Light does a great job introducing the post-apocalyptic world to players who may not have experience the original title through narrative as told by the player character, a survivor of the world’s nuclear destruction, now a newly appointed Ranger in the Russian militia. On his first mission to intercept and kill the last known “Dark One”, a survivor of the first game’s ending, our hero is captured by the Reich (the new Nazi Regime) and must fight for his life and find his way back home.
Although the game is a First Person Shooter, players can opt to take on a stealthy approach to each level. Shooting out light bulbs, shutting down breaker panels, and silently eliminating the enemies, players could, potentially, complete each area without ever being seen. As a fan of the stealth approach to gaming, I found this especially intriguing and very well executed. Even in times where the enemies spotted me, I was still able to find cover and hide again as levels are uniquely designed to allow for cover and stealth. Of course, this is only true when dealing with the human element. Once the mutant elements of the game are encountered, it’s an all out fight for your life.
In an intriguing twist of gameplay, where the player can sneak through the dark to silently eliminate human targets, it is the light that the player will cling to when it comes to dealing with the spider-like denizens of the catacombs. It is in areas like this where being afraid of the dark is, indeed, justified. Light will become the players’ best friend as these creatures flee from the light and are even killed, Alan Wake style, by the light.
Metro: Last Light’s story is told in small chapters that run between 10 and 30 minutes each, depending on whether or not you choose a stealth approach. Between each chapter, the story progresses through the antagonist’s diary entries and sets the scene for the next area. With these smaller, self contained, chapters, Metro: Last Light is the perfect game to spend a few minutes with each night or an entire evening. Those with limited time on their hands can still feel like they are able to accomplish something before having to put the game down. My time with the game at PAX East, back in March, did not prepare me for what I experienced here. I was thrown into a stage much later in the game, unprepared. I came out of there not really sure how I felt about the game. Now, having been able to start the game from the beginning, it seems like I’m playing a different, and much better, game.
Metro: Last Light brings elements from several different genres together in a way that simply works. The stealth aspect plays very well with plenty of hiding spaces available and darkness to hide in; the FPS elements feel good with tight, precise controls. while the catacombs instill a fear akin to a great survival horror, where staying in the light is all you want to do. FPS action, stealth strategy, and survival horror combined together with the short, concise chapters, great post-apocalyptic imagery, and intriguing story, into one satisfying experience that never borders on the repetitive. Deep Silver has crafted something truly special here.
Deep Silver, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.