As the preview demonstration kicks off, I was immediately reminded of how nice 4A's proprietary tech engine looks. Beynon says that they've added in "more sophisticated destruction and dynamic physics" to the engine, which we'll address later. While the demo was shown on PC, he assured us that "all of the tech will make it to consoles." But for the PC gamers out there, 4A is "looking to push" your PC gaming rig, giving you something to "justify [your] purchase." Happy?
We begin with a panning shot across a destroyed Moscow landscape. Cars litter the streets, a winged mutant flies through the air, and we settle on our hero Artyom and his friend Khan opening an access panel into the vast Moscow underground. The camera takes its place inside Artyom's head and our demo guide descends the stairs. Underground, he burns a spiderweb that's in the way using a lighter. Around the corner, he unscrews a lightbulb and, as if to show us that stealth has been overhauled in Last Light, he sneaks up behind a Nazi guard and and cuts his throat using a context-sensitive melee kill.
Wandering into a larger open area, he shoots a pot suspended over a small fire to extinguish it. He makes his way over to a concrete wall and takes cover and, after shooting some of the guards stationed inside a building, this stealth segment is over and it's a full-on firefight. The concrete barrier takes damage as the enemies fire at him, eventually chipping away, exposing the rebar structure inside. Making his way into the building, he grabs a crank-powered chaingun which makes quick work of the Nazi soldiers coming in below. After shooting his way out of the area, he meets up again with Khan who says their best bet "is to hide amongst them."
Upstairs, a Reich meeting fills a metro corridor. Swastikas hang from the walls, and Artyom follows Khan through this den of wolves. They're eventually spotted, and run through one of the metro's bustling cities. Artyom is injured and Khan helps him into a railcar. What follows is a mine-cart sequence, similar to many from the first game – it's a pop-up shooting gallery with parallel railcars. Despite being injured before, Artyom leaps to the other car and our demo ends with an explosion, and Artyom dropping to the ground.
What's notably different about Last Light
is the combat. During part of the train sequence, Artyom was using a single-shot rifle, which dropped enemies with just one shot. The chaingun made short work of the Nazis, as did the handmade grenade launcher he used while on the train. Beynon says that they've tried to "communicate better to you that your weapons are doing what they're supposed to be doing." He says it's similar to the "Ranger Hardcore" difficulty option from the first game which upped the damage from all the weapons significantly. As a result, "combat feels a lot more visceral and deadly this time around," he says.
With a 2012 release date, there's a lot of time to go before Metro: Last Light's release, but what we saw assuaged our concerns that what made Metro 2033 special would be replaced with a more generic, but safer, shooter. With an acknowledgement that stealth and combat needed work, the team at 4A is poised to find an even larger audience than its cult classic ever did.