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Bilgewater 06-15-2012 03:13 AM

I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light
So, this is totally speculative, but I just finished Metro 2033 and had strong feelings about it, so when I saw the videos for Last Light out of E3, I thought this:

Metro 2033 was a flawed game. It didn't know if it wanted to be a stealth/action game or a straightforward FPS, it had trouble communicating this difference to the player, and the story completely fell apart about halfway through. In spite of this it managed to be an enthralling title that pulled me in and made me want to know more about it's world and the people that inhabited it. My hopes for the inevitable sequel were pretty high. I thought, "With better level design, a more cohesive story, and better introductory levels, the next game will be great!"

There was so much good material there. Having to find a safe place to manually recharge your battery while surrounded by enemies. Killing a man with a silenced weapon did not guarantee that your murder would go unnoticed. Needing an incredibly precise shot to take out an enemy silently. The gas mask, while obnoxious to keep track of on a standard definition set, created a further level of tension when outside the safety of the metro tunnels.

All of these elements contributed to a highly suspenseful and terrifying environment. This kind of gameplay is sorely missing in an era when so few legitimate survival-horror games are being made. Adding these elements to an otherwise conventional FPS made me believe that a sequel could be just the thing to get the FPS genre out of its recent stagnation. The original had so much potential and went in the wrong direction so many times.

Tragically, it looks as though Metro Last Light is going to be a big let-down for me. Obviously I haven't played the game, but everything I've seen so far looks like the same FPS shoot-em-up non-stop action that keeps getting pumped out year after year. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, and there is certainly nothing wrong with it being used in survival-horror as a way to pace the game. But the clips I've seen of the game thus far make the main character, Artyom, appear powerful. Nothing ruins the tension of survival-horror like feeling powerful.

This power issue is something the first game definitely got wrong. Artyom narrates the load screens and he kept telling me how scared he felt in the library archives. Well, shit, I didn't feel scared. Every time I saw a monster I blasted it in the face repeatedly with a big gun. When I died, I felt frustrated, not scared.

Enough rambling. What do you think of what you've seen so far? Did you enjoy 2033 and are excited for Last Light? Did you hate 2033 and are excited for Last Light? Or do you just say "screw it" and play Amnesia or Penumbra for the thirteenth time?

Pedro 06-15-2012 01:25 PM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light
I think there are at least three of us who regularly post on the forum who have either just started the game or have it in their queue. I'm hoping to get to it in the next month personally, so I've only scanned your post...will revert at a later date! ;)

JLB1987 06-15-2012 05:26 PM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light
What a well written summary. I enjoyed reading that, even though I don't think it's my sort of game (tend to avoid stuff that is gonna make me jump too often, and therefore make me look like "less of a man" if my woman happens to be in the room).

Bilgewater 06-16-2012 03:00 PM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light

It's definitely worth a playthrough. I don't work in the industry at all, but I'm really fascinated by game mechanics and seeing how they do or don't work. It's also interesting to see how they work with the narrative and when 2033 clicks, it really clicks. I highly recommend playing it in Russian with subtitles, it really adds a lot to the atmosphere.


Thanks! It seems like I always do my best writing at 3 AM and four beers deep.

It's not too terrifying. There are some definite jump moments, but it's mostly atmospheric. Even the atmosphere isn't so much scary as it is spooky and unsettling. Pedro might not want to read this part if he'd rather discover it for himself, but it did make me a little uncomfortable every time I came across a long-deceased scavenger and had to strip the gear off their body. I think it's useful to compare this game to Fallout 3/New Vegas (or really any post-apocalyptia) in which scavenging dead bodies was a totally dehumanized affair. Approach dead body, hit button, open menu. In 2033, ammunition, health packs, and air filters are actually interactive items visibly attached to the unlucky victim. You have to aim at them and collect each bandolier individually. One of the more unsettling aspects is that your gas mask can become more and more cracked, requiring you to replace it. Taking a gas mask off a man to reveal the cold blue face underneath, then immediately putting that mask on your face for your own survival was more disturbing than any pale, fleshy monster baring its teeth at me. When a gameplay mechanic can be that visceral, that disturbing, and contribute to story-telling all at the same time, you know you have something magical... and gross.

Pedro 06-17-2012 12:49 PM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light
Meanwhile, from a cave in deepest Dorset, famed troglodyte JLB1987 ventures forth. :p

I take it she doesn't read Gamecritics?

Actually, having read the article properly now, I have the same fears for Far Cry 3. Far Cry 2 was a like it or loathe it game, it seems, but for those of us who think it's the best FPS we've played, it's looking like the new one might be trying to pander to everyone and could suffer for that.

Bilgewater 06-19-2012 02:56 PM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light
For some reason, my original response to you guys hasn't gone through.


I hope you enjoy 2033. It is fun in places, but I found it more interesting to look at through a critical perspective to see where the devs went right and where they went wrong. Though I'm not a developer or in the game design community at all, I find it really interesting to look at mechanics and gameplay as they relate to story-telling. As I mentioned in the original post, there are some great ideas that are executed really well.

I played half of Far Cry 1 on a friend's computer and I have some fond memories of it. I remember seeing some media for 3 and thinking it looked a little culturally insensitive, but I thought the same thing about RE 5 and look how that turned out! Oh... right.

Oh, and big tip that I only found out about half-way through the game in a loading screen tip. The three lights on your watch (green, yellow, red) correspond to how well hidden you are.


Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I hope you're willing to give it a try. There are a few "gotcha" scares, a la Doom 3 or Dead Space, but most of it is just creepy atmosphere.

Spoiler? I guess?

The most powerful moments in the game arise from scavenging dead bodies. In comparison to another post-apocalyptic epic, Fallout 3 turns the pilfering of corpses into this dehumanized redundant menu system where you eventually stop thinking about the fact that you are stripping caps and ammo from someone's child/sibling/parent. 2033 never really lets you forget that you are desecrating the corpse of some unknown survivor. You actually have to aim at and collect indivudually the ammo, medkits, and air filters you so desperately need for your own survival. The most chilling and unsettling moments are when you realize your gas mask is cracked and that you must get a new one. Taking a mask off a corpse to reveal the cold blue face underneath, then putting that mask directly on your face is a powerful (if gross) interaction that adds to gameplay, narrative, and immersion all at once. This is the kind of powerful stuff I hope to see more of in gaming, and, to my original point, appears to be falling by the wayside in favor of guns-blazing-over-powered-death-machine gameplay that I've had enough of.

JLB1987 06-20-2012 07:00 AM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light
Ha ha, no. I'm getting truly sick of playing New Vegas though, and having her walk into the room just as a nightkin decides to attack me (New Vegas is starting to piss me off in general, but I'll elaborate more in the correct thread...)

I may pick it the first Metro up cheap. The game seemed to have pretty polarising reviews, but it seems to have gone down well with the regulars on here. I just won't be playing it in the dark, and will strictly be one for when I'm the only one around!

Regarding Far Cry 2/3, my problem with the second one was that it seemed to be "non stop shooter action". They had many great ideas, but they were almost all poorly implemented. I'd love to have played in that open world, but without ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE being out to kill me (except basically just, inexplicably, people in that town area. I've just slaughtered fifty of your comrades, but because we're in a specific square of land, you're just gonna hand me missions instead of killing me? Ok.)

Again, probably one for another thread, but I HATED that game...!!!

Pedro 06-26-2012 02:48 PM

Re: I'm afraid of Metro: Last Light

Yeah, FC2 is also often cited as a game that could have been great but for some strange design choices. You should try it out.

I know you hated it, ha ha.

I agree on New Vegas though, though the quests are 'better' and the gunplay is better etc, it lacks a spark.

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