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Metro: Last Light Impressions (PS3)

June 11, 2012 Written by Nick Michetti

Not all first-person shooters are about explosions, big set pieces, and multiplayer modes, despite the current trend of games on the market. Some are about atmosphere, presence, and a memorable single player campaign. To find these features in any FPS might be something of a rarity — but they won’t be rare in survival horror-style FPS Metro: Last Light. Developer 4A is aiming to put quite the emphasis on a standout, fear-inducing single player experience, judging by the eyes-on demo presentation at E3.

Metro: Last Light is set in a Russian post-apocalyptic world. As 4A said during the presentation, Metro: Last Light isn’t about the Western post-apocalyptic vision, which has been seen many times before. The game instead offers an authentic Eastern European vision for a post-apocalypse that deals with Russian mysticism, ghosts, demons, and paranormal activity. The world is one where nature has begun reclaiming the Earth, with grass popping up amidst ruined buildings and broken bits of rubble. It’s a harsh and difficult world to live in and survivors have to make do with what they can scavenge (including sparse bits of ammunition), while utilizing the utmost caution.

Two Russian men are the two featured main characters in the demo. They appear to be looking for supplies and reference a group of people called “The Rangers.” They grab gas masks (which the player will not only have to clean off themselves, but replace periodically), set their watches (so that they know how much oxygen they have left), and operate the hand crank for the lights on their helmets. The player’s character is equipped with some kind of crossbow. After getting situated, the two move carefully through a series of areas. One is an area above ground, where the player gets a good look at the world of ruin left after the apocalypse. Suddenly, it starts to rain, which is evidence of dynamic weather — a new feature in Metro: Last Light that’s designed to make the world feel hostile.

One area is a building filled with dead bodies. The two find the body of a man with a gas mask on, and the A.I. character points out that the player could take his mask. Very few enemy encounters are present, as the game is focused on building tension throughout, through sound, darkness, and music. In one room, the player goes to grab a shotgun, but is jumped from behind by an enemy and the two wrestle frantically, before the player eventually kills the beast with it.

One particularly tense scene is where the characters find a plane full of dead bodies. The player character begins having flashbacks, including a full vision of a scene set at the beginning of the apocalyptic events — two Russian pilots find themselves in the midst of some kind of disturbance and frantically try to figure out what to do. The plane descends into flames in the vision, before the player returns to normal, prompting the men try to shake off the uneasiness of their surroundings and move on.

After leaving the area, the player is picked up by a winged demon, which carries the player around briefly, before he manages to be freed. The two move on, but don’t have much to recuperate, as a small horde of demons attacks them from all over a short while later. The two retreat back into an area in front of the bottom of an escalator. They kill as many demons as they can and it seems like all will eventually be lost before a group emerges who appear to be the Rangers — armor-clad, flamethrower-wielding soldier/militia types — show up and douse the demons in flames, which ends the demo.

Metro: Last Light definitely makes quite the impression as a survival horror shooter. The atmosphere’s ability to keep players on edge and having to carefully utilize resources to prepare for any potential enemy encounters aren’t exactly common features of an FPS, which help Metro: Last Light stand out in positive ways. Fans of survival horror or FPS gamers looking for a different kind of single player game should watch out for when Metro: Last Light begins terrifying those who pick it up in 2013.