Fear of the Future – Metro Last Light is on the Way.
Metro 2033, the slow burn hit courtesy of THQ and 4A Games, plunged players into a nightmarish vision of a near-future Moscow annihilated by nuclear war. Based on Dmitry Gluhkovsky’s cult novel of the same name, the game eventually gained appreciation for its blend of atmospheric world building, in-depth characterization and a recurring theme of moral discovery.
Told from the point of view of Artyom, young survivor of the holocaust that devastated the planet when he was a child, the story of Metro 2033 led gamers on a journey through the vast, decaying subterranean transport system where the handful of Muscovites that had the dubious fortune of surviving the nuclear fire, eke out a meagre existence in the rotting underbelly of their once proud city. Lethal levels of radiation, poisoned air, and hordes of hostile mutants have rendered the surface an inhospitable and frightening place. Only a few courageous and highly skilled men known as Rangers dare venture beyond the relative safety of the metro stations to scavenge in the ruins of the old world. One of these elite soldiers, a man named Hunter, tasks Artyom with carrying a warning to Polis the largest of the stations that lies at the centre of the Metro complex. It is here, where the few remaining vestiges of military and political power endure, that the last hope against the emerging threat lies. Along the way, Artyom must face rival human factions, lethal anomalies and the hordes of new species that evolved in the wake of the holocaust, all the while plagued by visions of the ‘Dark Ones’; sentient, telepathic humanoids capable of invading the minds of man and monster alike.
What really set the original Metro game apart was the journey of self-discovery Arytom embarks upon, in which prejudices and assumptions he holds about his terrifying world must be faced and challenged. Metro 2033 never shied away from confronting head-on, the folly of human kind in fashioning this dire fate for itself. It is a mark of true genius that despite the majority of play time being spent exploring the labyrinthine system of concrete rail tunnels and claustrophobic service passages, the game never becomes repetitive. Every station was a different, distinct community; each felt lived-in, conveying the sense that these places were people’s homes and not just a cool setting for some arbitrary firefight. Thanks to the combination of interesting characters, varied enemies and tantalising glimpses of back story told through snatches of overheard conversation, along with cryptic dream sequences and bespoke environments, the experience remained fresh and interesting throughout.
A sequel to this surprising success has been in the works for a while now, but fans were left despairing after the original mid-2012 release date was pushed back to Spring 2013 amid rumours that Publisher THQ was experiencing financial difficulties. Since then though, a second lengthy trailer debuted at this year’s E3 along with a live action short entitled ‘Enter the Metro, abating fears about the future (no pun intended) of the franchise. Last Light certainly looks more ambitious then its predecessor; already fans have been treated to footage of breakneck train chases, lengthy sojourns to the hostile surface and haunting visions of the nuclear Armageddon that started it all.
What is important now is that 4A Games does not abandon the principles of the first game in an attempt to appeal to a wider market. Story, atmosphere, and a sense of moral discovery were all vital components to Metro 2033’s distinct brand of story-telling brilliance. There is nothing to say that Last Light can’t do everything bigger and better than its predecessor just so long as the developers keep in mind what made the original such a vivid, memorable and enduring experience.
By Kyle Percival