E3 2012: Metro Last Light Impressions

True survival horror is becoming harder and harder to find as the industry shifts toward action horror. 4A Games refuses to drink the kool-aid and hopes to show that change isn’t necessary to remain relevant in this industry with Metro: Last Light. The title is a follow-up to the 2010 PC/Xbox 360 exclusive, Metro 2033, and the developers are confident that it is the perfect cure for shooter fatigue, a major issue we’ve all been facing lately. Metro: Last Light is approaching alpha stage and I must say it looks outstanding in its current state.

Right after starting up the hands-off demo, the survival and scavenging aspects of the game are immediately apparent. The character’s watch is set to five minutes so that the player knows exactly how much time they have before they run out of oxygen. With every passing second, the player is constantly being forced to do two things at once: progress cautiously and move quickly. One must keep an eye on every corner, but fear cannot stop someone from moving at a reasonable pace, otherwise they will find themselves out of oxygen. Making note of the speed at which the mission must be done, our main character leaves with an ally. Not too long into the mission, creatures made their appearance. However, this one was no real threat. The spider-like creature was quickly dispatched, but its blood squirted onto the gas mask, slightly obscuring the player’s view. This led to one of the game’s newest feature. Various substances can end up on the mask (blood, water, etc.) and requires a button press in order to have the fluids wiped off. It’s an interesting contextual feature that enhances the level of immersion.

The two survivors transition from the dark corridors to the devastated environment outside. Buildings are crumbled, an airplane is split in half and various forms of debris litter the ground. The skies were mostly clear to start with, but dark clouds moved in up above and deadly acid rain began to fall as well as lightning. The airplane carcass is targeted for shelter and things begin to get very weird after entering the aircraft. The area messes with the minds of both men, causing them to see glimpses of the inside of the airplane in the past before its crash. Skeletons filling seats briefly come to life as fleshy beings and other forms of deterioration are reversed during these periods of mental manipulation. Upon making it to the cockpit, a tense scene from the past showing the plane’s free fall surrounded by exploding nukes played on-screen. It was a truly harrowing scene and made the experience that much more impactful and amazing.

The struggle amplifies once the beasts start pursuing the two men. Outnumbered with limited ammo, the player must place shots carefully while simultaneously keeping an eye on their watch. Four-legged creatures attacked in packs and winged enemy even swooped in and lifted the player into the air. Fortunately, the two reached the safety of the Metro with the enemies right behind them, and so ended our demo. Metro: Last Light will be scaring many gamers (including PS3 owners this time) next year.