The fact that we might have exhausted the FPS genre, as is, may be a truth that’s difficult to swallow. Since we have Halo and Call of Duty nailing it year after year, we see developers often mashing the FPS together with another genre to make things interesting. We’ve seen this in Minecraft, Portal, and Sanctum. Metro: Last Light is a bold attempt at making the FPS interesting again with the tried and true method of including thoughtful design.
Metro: Last Light successfully brings tension to the experience by implementing the gas mask and light mechanics. Making the gas mask an accessory you constantly had to manage was a concept that was brought back from Metro 2033. And though the enemy AI in Metro 2033 did react to light (or the lack thereof), this behavior is much more pronounced in Last Light.
The way AI interacts with light is this game’s centerpiece. This was made clear to me when I found that almost every light source could be turned off and destroyed. Destroying a light source near an enemy would immediately put them on their toes. Enemy AI even reacted to the light from my gunfire.
Last Light is a stealth game that properly uses light to build on this on-going inner struggle within the player. Making my way through each room, I constantly had to make a conscious effort to keep some light sources intact for fear of not being able to see. But it’s all too tempting to do so because my enemies were that much more unknowing of my position. Patience and observations were my only friends here as I carefully had to keep track of what my enemies were doing to make it through each section alive. Create too much darkness, and I found that I did more harm to my situation than good.
When I got too reckless or when I decided to run-and-gun it, I often found that death wasn’t too far behind me. Each “room” was a puzzle, and I was told that there were at least 3-4 paths through each one. Some rooms also contained tanks full of poisonous gas — giving me more incentive to play pacifist and not engage in a firefight.
Last Light forced me to play by its rules. And in this case, I was fine with it because it pulls stealth off very well. Whenever I was caught, I knew that it was my fault.
4A Games seemed aware of the importance of light and made sure that their visuals were on par with their central mechanic. The PC rig I played the demo on displayed the game beautifully. The lighting effects felt realistic, right down to smoke and dust slowly gyrating beneath the light of a ceiling lamps. When an alarm was sounded, I was treated to a laser light show of doom in the form of laser sight-equipped rifles frantically looking for me.
It should also be noted that there may be a morality system as I was able to kill or knock out enemies from behind. 4A Games wasn’t willing to cop to this one when I asked about it, but we may see more in the future.
If you want to play a different type of FPS where running and gunning gets you killed while patient and methodical ensures survival, look no further than this spring, when Metro: Last Light is released. FPS fans who enjoy stealth sequences that come off more as delightfully frustrating puzzles will want keep a watchful eye over this one.
At PAX East, Metro: Last Light kicked my ass, and I enjoyed every bit of it.