Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited down to the nightclub Cable during the day to try out Metro Last Light, the latest in the series of angsty subterranean Russian games where you spend some of your time top side fighting monsters and a lot of your time going underground where you’ll meet a lot of folks who now live in the subway system. And there’s the link with the venue – Cable is underground below the London tube network and I’m currently writing this preview without a phone signal and with the smell of damp filling my nostrils.
My gaming experience began some way into the game where I donned my gas mask and headed above ground to investigate a downed plane. After a sequence where I presumably started seeing visions and a flashback of how the plane crashed, I then had to fight off a number of mutated beasts with my comrade before being lead into an underground station that also doubled as a bazaar for buying and selling ammo and kit and a theatre. Here’s a hint, stay and watch the action after the ladies do the Can-Can to be treated to some extra on-stage action that you’ll miss if you follow the leader into the next section of the game.
For reasons I won’t go into here (avoiding spoilers), I then ended up in a stealthy section of the game where I had to make my way through an enemy base and escape through to the other side. The world is interactive so you can blow lamps out, shoot out lights and pull levers to shut down floodlights and use one of multiple routes to find your way to your goal, consulting a clipboard with a tap of the ‘back’ button that has a handy green compass arrow to keep you on track.
Once through the enemy base, I then ended up controlling a rail car to travel between stations, stopping off on my way to clear obstacles or rescue people who happen to have got in with the wrong crowd. Then, it was time for lunch and I that’s where my game experience ended. It was fun, and that’s down to a number of factors.
So, first of all, let’s discuss the way the game looks. Running on Deep Silver’s own engine called 4A Tech, the game has its own style that’s really quite atmospheric. Like previous Metro games, it uses a muted colour palette to portray a feeling of despair and decay. The game isn’t quite finished yet so textures are a mix of quality, however NPCs do seem lifelike and there’s plenty of life when you enter habited areas or bases. There’s a lot going on around you, whether it’s people trying to get some kip or an uncle entertaining kids with shadow puppets and you can either stop and smell the roses and listen to what they have to say or move on and mind your own business, it’s really up to you!
In terms of combat and exploration, the gas mask is back and you’ll have to manage how and when you use it. With a tap of LB you can wipe I clean and you must constantly scavenge for new filters which you’ll have to swap out for new ones when the timer runs out and you begin gasping for air.
Weapons are also varied. There are pistols, shotguns, rifles and launchers for you to find and customize and the return of military grade ammo you can find and either use to enhance the damage your gun does to enemies, or sell at shops to buy more ammo and kit to help keep you alive. Thankfully, Deep Silver have also listened to feedback from the last game and made it very obvious in terms of the feel and sound of the military ammo so you definitely know that you’re firing it into the heads of humans and monsters to avoid any nasty surprises when you get to a shop and realise you’ve spent all your currency!
There are also a number of secondary weapons including throwing knives and grenades and you can access all of these by holding down LB and using either the d-pad or the command buttons – it’s really very intuitive.
My one criticism would be that, at the moment, checkpoints seem randomly spaced out. There were moments when I died and then had to watch a cut-scene play out simply due to the checkpoint being in the wrong place. Hopefully, these will be optimised before the game comes out.
Metro Last Light is looking like a top quality first-person action game. It seems to have a good mix of action, stealth and exploration. Add to this the unique atmosphere and Deep Silver should have a hit on their hands.
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