Metro: Last Light (Xbox360)

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Metro: Last Light is the sequel to Metro 2033, and the second entry to the series of horror-themed first-person shooter games from THQ and developer 4A. Last Light follows on from the events in Metro 2033, and sees gamers returning to the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow in 2034.

The remnants of mankind hide below ground in the tunnels of the Metro, plagued by deadly threats from both above and below the desolate surface. Above ground the poisoned skies threaten their fragile existence, while below ground they are stalked by mutants. Yet mankind is not united, instead the station-cities of the Metro are on the verge of a civil war, locked in a struggle for control over a ‘doomsday device’ which is said to hold the power to ‘destroy humanity forever.’

Huw Beynon - Metro Last Light gamescom

Metro 2033 became a cult-like hit when it was released in 2010, partly due to the fact that the atmosphere and level of immersion the game provided was different to the first-person shooters out at that time. By THQ’s own admission the combat in Metro: 2033 was not up to the standard they would have liked, while the stealth and AI was ‘rusty.’ Metro: Last Light, however, promises to be true to the spirit and soul of the original game, preserving the balance between survival horror, fear and exploration, while boasting a few improvements too. These improvements include overhauled technology, an increase in lighting, added destruction as well as rebuilt combat, stealth and AI elements to the gameplay.

Metro: Last Light Screenshot 8

THQ’s Huw Beynon took us through an action heavy sequence of the game during a presentation at gamescom. The gameplay demo was visually stunning, with crumbling buildings and rows of deserted cars painting a very real picture of this desolated and war-torn planet, the surface abandoned by humans, who have been forced to live underground. The action shifts to the tunnels below, as main character Artyom’s mission to infiltrate a Reich sentry camp and locate a mysterious prisoner begins.

Metro: Last Light Screenshot 9

Stealth is a key factor to this operation, so after burning a couple of spiders off a web in front of you, you quietly unscrew a lightbulb to continue unnoticed in the dark. You follow two sentries, slit the one’s throat before gunning the other down and shooting the lights out to allow you to keep to the shadows as you sneak into the camp. You’ll need to eliminate the guards silently at this stage, to avoid detection, but prepare for a gunfight because before long someone is bound to notice the guards are disappearing.

Metro: Last Light Screenshot 5

All hell breaks loose when you’re discovered, but don’t linger behind that cover for too long because it’s destructible! Luckily you manage to locate a monster-looking machine gun, and you’ll need it to deal with the reinforcements coming your way – someone is not too happy to hear you’ve infiltrated their outpost. Your best bet is to hide amongst the enemy, so you join your partner Khan as he calmly stalks through a Reich rally.

Metro: Last Light Screenshot 4

You’ll need to run for your life, navigating your way along paths lined by make-shift houses and people, once your daring escape plan is discovered. The action is intense, the sound-effects and voices of your pursuers adding to the sense of urgency to escape. The enemy follows you on mine-carts, and a heavy firefight ensures through the tunnels as you gain on the train you’re attempting to board. Once you’ve boarded the train, you move towards the front, the roar of the underground train in your ears as you face sentries along the way.

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Following on from the gameplay demo we saw a brief glimpse of the new mutants we can look forward to facing in Last Light. At first they appeared slow and lumbering, but once roused showed a blindingly fast charge that you’ll have to be mindful of. Developer 4A promises many improvements to the monster side of things, which hopefully we will get more information on in the coming months.

Although we didn’t get to see the user interface in the demo, there will be a minimalistic one in the game. Developer 4A is trying to strike the right balance with providing the player with some kind of interface and the option to play without it.

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We did, however, see the lighter whose flame flickers in the direction of your next objective, something which we were told many players of the first instalment missed. In case you want something a little more reliable than the lighter, you can use the compass which is built into the map pack, which just so happens to be modelled on a real Soviet issue map case. You are also equipped with a watch that you can sync to your PC or console – apart from telling the time your watch lets you keep tabs on your oxygen supply and level of stealth.

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Metro: Last Light has a very unique feel to it, and creates a deep sense of suspense for what is to come next. The mix of stealth and action, along with excellent lighting and sound create an immersive experience which will appeal to a wide range of gamers.

Metro: Last Light is scheduled to be released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in 2012. Browse through our previous coverage for more trailers and screenshots. Watch the gameplay demo below and make up your own opinion on how the game is shaping up.