Metro: Last Light


Digital FoundryFace-Off: Metro Redux

Cross-format analysis, plus original vs remaster comparisons on PC.

Digital FoundryInside Metro: Last Light

Digital Foundry vs. 4A's Oles Shishkovstov on technological innovation, PlayStation 3 and the incredible potential of the next-gen consoles.

Metro: Last Light review

Bleep... bleep... blops?

VideoLive-action Metro: Last Light teaser trailer

Haunting glimpse at next year's survival shooter.

Key events

FeatureThe secret stories of Metro

'An empire of myths and legends'.

The station is abandoned, the platform crowned with a mountain of junk. There are books, pieces of furniture, newspapers, broken bicycles, busts of forgotten heroes - objects of the old world, collecting dust. Maybe objects remember too? At this station, people see things. Artyom had a vision of two old men, discussing god and fate, smoking shisha, while a cat lazily napped alongside. Homer saw things the way they were - the platform bustling with commuters in rush-hour, the polished ghost-like carriages gliding along the rails. And Hunter saw himself, or at least a part of himself he'd prefer not to recognise.

Barren wastelands. Decrepit and abandoned towns. Desolate landscapes ravaged by time and trauma. Recognisable landmarks slowly but surely reclaimed by nature after our demise. Games have consistently embraced the post-apocalyptic setting. It invites excitement, apprehension and a deep curiosity, and plays on the thought-provoking hypothetical, the 'what if?'. And when these post-apocalyptic environments and landscapes are incredibly detailed, they can result in great efficacy and power.

In a restaurant somewhere in sunny Los Angeles County, 13 years ago, two old friends were having lunch. Wine and conversation were flowing. They remembered how they'd met at LucasArts in the 90s. They weren't there to talk business but they did because video games were their bread and butter. One of the men, Jack Sorensen, was reeling-off job opportunities he knew of - he being executive vice president of worldwide studios at games publisher THQ. "THQ Australia?" he enquired. But the other man, Dean Sharpe, didn't seem interested. He had closed his own studio Big Ape Productions a couple of years earlier, dropped off the radar and taken a break, and now he was ready for something new. But Sharpe wanted a challenge.

Face-Off: Metro Redux

Digital FoundryFace-Off: Metro Redux

Cross-format analysis, plus original vs remaster comparisons on PC.

Some might say that Deep Silver did everything it could to address the various controversies surrounding current-gen console remasters with the launch of its remarkable Metro Redux. 4A Games handed in code that was a truly transformative experience compared to its PS3 and Xbox 360 predecessors, it significantly improved and modernised Metro 2033 and the publisher did its best to bypass the 'rip-off cash-in' arguments often levelled at remasters by bundling both games together in a retail package available in the UK for less than £30. But what about PC?

This one was always going to be trickier. Resolution and frame-rate boosts mean little to a PC audience accustomed to tweaking settings and upgrading hardware in order to get the gameplay experience it wants. The idea of value is wildly skewed in the world of Steam summer sales - and where the original version of Metro 2033 was at one point literally given away for free. Deep Silver hasn't actively marketed any game-changing improvements to Metro Last Light, while the revised version of Metro 2033 has been accused of being 'nerfed' owing to 4A opting to rely less heavily on volumetric lighting in certain situations.

In many ways, this is a dual-purpose Face-Off, then. Not only are we stacking up all three versions of the dual-game Redux, but the PC version - which also bundles up all of the existing DLC - clearly demands comparison to the existing editions of the game. That takes us up to ten different Metro versions we've played over the last month then, with plenty of discussion points still to cover, so let's dive in with the apparently contentious Metro 2033.

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Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs Metro Redux

Xbox 360 vs Xbox One. PS3 vs PlayStation 4. Is this the remaster you've been waiting for?

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One remasters are coming thick and fast, bringing with them a wave of controversy - should developers be concentrating resources on porting over games they've already made? Are resolution and frame-rate boosts enough? Most crucially of all, do they represent value for money? The Metro Redux package from Kiev-based 4A Games puts forward a hell of a good case: you get two complete games for £30 and each title is available solus via digital delivery for those who already own one of the originals. But most importantly of all, the remastering work is very, very good. In fact, we'd say it's up there with the best.

See what Metro's next-gen remakes look like in action

Due this summer, "Redux" runs in 60 fps, adds new gameplay modes.

Metro 2033 and its sequel, Metro: Last Light, are getting next-gen remakes this summer with "Redux" versions coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC. Now, publisher Deep Silver has revealed the first gameplay footage of both titles in Metro Redux.

FeatureDevelopers' Games of 2013

CD Projekt! Blow! Bithell! Molyneux! More!

We've had our say on 2013's best video games. And so have you. Now, it's the turn of the developers, the makers of the virtual experiences we so love. Read on for the games of 2013 according to the creators of the likes of Super Meat Boy, Assassin's Creed 4, XCOM, Oculus Rift and more, complete with Twitter bios.

Deep Silver and 4A Games' gritty, post-apocalyptic Russian shooter Metro: Last Light will be getting its third piece of DLC, the Developer Pack, on 17th September on Steam and Xbox Live. The PSN version will also be out the 17th in North America, but not until the following day in Europe.

Digital FoundryInside Metro: Last Light

Digital Foundry vs. 4A's Oles Shishkovstov on technological innovation, PlayStation 3 and the incredible potential of the next-gen consoles.

No single console gaming genre is as fiercely competitive as the first-person shooter, and whether it's Call of Duty, Halo, Crysis, Killzone or Battlefield, these are franchises defined just as much by their technological distinctiveness as they are by colossal budgets that run into the tens of millions. Into the fray steps the recent-recently Metro: Last Light from Kiev-based developer 4A Games. It lacks in mega-bucks investment, but despite that deficit, it aims to make up the gap in terms of good storytelling, atmosphere and simply exceptional technology.

Metro: Last Light DLC announced

Metro: Last Light DLC announced

Two story chapters, one solo challenge and tools.

Deep Silver has announced Metro: Last Light DLC.

The Faction Pack and the Chronicles Pack include new single-player gameplay that "expands" the story, Deep Silver said. The first chapter, the Faction Pack, will be released in June 2013.

The Tower Pack includes a solo challenge designed for Metro veterans. And the Developer Pack gives "creative players some interesting tools with which to explore the world of Metro...", Deep Silver teased.

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UK chart: Metro: Last Light turns up top

But can't beat Metro: 2033's first-week fifth-place tally.

Koch/Deep Silver's new buy Metro: Last Light has stolen first place in the UK video games chart from Dead Island: Riptide, the publisher's other game.

4A details Metro: Last Light tech upgrades

Digital Foundry4A details Metro: Last Light tech upgrades

Enhanced performance, anti-aliasing, tessellation… plus Xbox 360 vs. PS3 comparison video.

Metro: Last Light developer 4A games has shared some of the technological enhancements added to its bespoke engine since the release of Metro 2033 three years ago, going in-depth on its new approaches to DirectX 11, tessellation and anti-aliasing while promising a great gameplay experience across a range of hardware.

"We are extremely proud of the scalability we achieved," Oles Shishkovstov, chief technical officer for 4A Games tells us. "For example, Metro: Last Light is very playable on Intel HD 4000 hardware in DX11 mode (yes, lower quality settings only, but still - it runs) and we run extremely well on the next-gen Intel Haswell GPUs, while still bringing to their knees the high-end cards like GTX 680 and the HD 7970 in high-quality modes with extreme super-sampling."

Super-sampling is the new anti-aliasing technique of choice from 4A - and it's literally the process of rendering the frame at a higher pixel density and then downscaling it to fit your chosen resolution, smoothing away the jaggies. The problem with SSAA is that it's very heavy on the GPU since so many more pixels are being internally rendered. 4A's approach is to combine super-sampling with a post-process technique - FXAA - for optimal results in terms of both performance and image quality. The frame-rate killing 4x MSAA from Metro 2033 is now a thing of the past.

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Metro: Last Light review

Metro: Last Light review

Bleep... bleep... blops?

Some games seem bad because they are. With Metro: Last Light, it's more a question of expectations: what do you want from the Metro series? For me, it's a scary and dark post-nuclear Russian underground, a first-person survival horror-slash-shooter with scarce resources and terrifying scenarios. There's a bit of that, to be sure. But if you also want tits, QTEs and hand-holding companions, then congratulations - you're part of the wider audience this game is looking for.

Metro: Last Light is a game torn between the niche its predecessor staked out and genre conventions that are perceived to help sales. So, to give one example, you're accompanied for large stretches of the game's first half - a crutch at the best of times, and one that rather taints the atmosphere here. Not that your companions Anna and Pavel are dislikeable characters - the latter's a chatty rogue with charm and surprises to spare - but their presence feels unnecessary.

Metro is based on Dmitri Glukhovsky's series of books, and the pitiless dystopia crafted over two volumes is one where humanity bleeds, both figuratively and literally. Metro 2033 caught this atmosphere in its tight corridors, and Last Light does the same, albeit with more caveats.

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FeatureDanny Bilson: inside the rise and fall of THQ

The outspoken former chief of Saints Row, Homefront and Darksiders finally breaks his silence.

The week before Danny Bilson left THQ in May 2012, he still had hope. He had a plan: Darksiders 2 from Vigil. Metro: Last Light from 4AGames. Company of Heroes 2 from Relic Entertainment. Enter the Dominatrix, the standalone expansion for Saints Row the Third, from Volition. South Park: The Stick of Truth, in production at Obsidian Entertainment. Homefront 2 at Crytek UK. And then there was the unannounced stuff: the next-gen game from Turtle Rock we now know is called Evolve. Patrice Désilets' 1666 at THQ Montreal. The portfolio is long and impressive.

Metro: Last Light release date announced by new publisher

Metro: Last Light release date announced by new publisher

"We have a lot more coming with the franchise."

Near-future shooter Metro: Last Light will ricochet onto UK shop shelves on 17th May 2013, the game's new publisher Deep Silver has announced.

That's three days after the US date of 14th May.

Metro: Last Light was originally due in March, back under the stewardship of defunct publisher THQ.

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THQ is no more. This is where its assets went

UPDATE: Platinum Games is interested in Darksiders.

Update #4: Does IP changing hands equal upheaval? Does upheaval equal game delay? Obsidian's South Park: Stick of Truth was due in March. Is it still? "It's too soon to say," Ubisoft told me this afternoon. "We'll have more details to share about plans for specific games soon."

Metro: Last Light preview: The Underground Man

FeatureMetro: Last Light preview: The Underground Man

4A's latest promises improvements in terms of the weaponry, the stealth, and the surroundings.

Nixies are a wonderful piece of retro tech: they're a means of creating digital displays that relies on funny little glass vacuum tubes. Fragile and captivating, it's hard to look at this ingenious relic of the 20th century without wishing they'd caught on - even though they'd presumably have meant that we'd all be making weekly trips to the local horologist. Eccentrics like Steve Wozniak have Nixie tube wristwatches, at any rate - and in Metro: Last Light, so will you, the gadget's bright, rather spindly meshed lettering linked to the internal clock on your PC or console. Whatever happens, there's that digital readout, staring up at you from the wrist of Artyom, the series' sharp-shootin' protagonist, as he ventures through this strange, frightening jury-rigged world where yesterday and tomorrow have collided painfully.

The Nixie model replaces Artyom's old wristwatch: the more traditional dial-and-hands-based number that Metro 2033 veterans relied on to count down the time until they were in need of a new air filter as they explored Moscow's irradiated topside, or to clue them in to how well hidden they were during stealth sections. The new watch does all of that too, of course, and when it comes to stealth, it's a lot simpler and - hopefully - less frustrating with it. In Last Light, a blue lamp on the watch's face tells you whether you're visible or not. It's binary. Tidy stuff.

That watch will be your consistent companion through 4A Games' sequel, and it's a fixed point at which two of the series' key themes come together, too. One is stealth, and it was front and centre during a recent developer playthrough of the fiercely pretty PC version over at THQ's UK HQ. The other lies with the Nixies and that loveably nuts-and-bolts approach to knackered old gear they represent. Metro's world is a dangerous scrapheap where everything useful has been cobbled together from mis-matched parts: a place in which years of living in the subways of Moscow after a nuclear attack have lead technology in strange trajectory.

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Metro: Last Light developer calls the Wii U CPU "horrible, slow"

Developing for Wii U would have been "potentially to its detriment."

Awhile back Metro: Last Light publisher THQ said it would not develop the first-person shooter for Wii U, despite it appearing on Nintendo's platform during a demo reel. At the time, THQ said it was because the publisher wanted to "focus on what we knew," i.e. PS3, 360 and PC.

When I sat down to chat with Danny Bilson during THQ's pre-E3 showcase event in North London earlier this month, I had no idea that, just over a week later, he would no longer be with the publisher. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but I'm convinced there was something about the way he introduced presentations on Company of Heroes 2, Metro: Last Light and Darksiders 2 to European press that morning that was, for want of a better term, off.

Metro: Last Light Preview: Five Frantic Minutes With THQ's Shooter Sequel

A five-minute demo of Metro: Last Light is enough to showcase scavenging, exploration, and fighting, and to cover ground that includes gloomy, claustrophobic interiors and vast, echoing exteriors where the sky crackles and fizzes with radioactive weather systems. Last Light's the sequel to Metro 2033 - Metro author Dmitry Glukhovsky has been involved, apparently, even if the narrative has nothing to do with his own sequel, Metro 2034 - yet that familiarity provides little comfort in this dirty, post-nuclear wasteland.

The player can seem terribly vulnerable, all alone in this empty world, and mere vulnerability is probably one of the better sensations on offer. After all, the same five-minute demo starts with an uneasy, brooding kind of calm, and ends with all-out frenzy. Five minutes. Let's go.

Our glimpse of Last Light kicks off in the subways, of course: deep within the underground network where the survivors of the nuclear attack on Moscow have fled. It's grim down here - it's grim everywhere - but there are plenty of jarring reminders of the old world, from the empty sarcophagi of the ticket booths, to a jaunty drawing of an ice cream cone on a rust-splattered advertisement.

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Metro: Last Light delayed until 2013

THQ shooter held back for more polish.

Metro: Last Light, the sequel to grim post-apocalyptic 2010 shooter Metro 2033, has been delayed until early 2013, THQ has announced.

THQ denies cancelling 2014 line-up of games

THQ denies cancelling 2014 line-up of games

But Warhammer 40K MMO future less certain.

THQ has denied cancelling its 2014 line-up of games - but the future of ambitious Warhammer 40,000 MMO Dark Millennium Online is less certain.

The publisher responded to a gloomy rumour spread on Twitter by video game executive Kevin Dent. He heard that the Warhammer 40,000 MMO and the THQ 2014 line-up had been cancelled. Dent had also heard THQ was "offering" itself for sale to Asian companies.

THQ's response, via a statement offered to VG247, read: "THQ has not cancelled its 2014 line-up, and has not made any decisions regarding the planned MMO.

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FeatureMetro: Last Light

Down In The Tube Station At Midnight.

If it's true that art imitates life, we're glad that we don't live in Ukraine. Home to 4A Games, their debut title, Metro 2033, was an unremittingly bleak affair. Based on a novel by young Russian author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, it was set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow where a handful of survivors took refuge in the city's hermetically sealed underground system, a world noticeably bereft of primary colours, and largely short on laughs. Referencing its geographical origins is more than mere flippancy, however, as the Ukraine-based American producer of sequel Metro Last Light confirms.

THQ to rename Metro 2034?

Last Light URLs snapped up.

Forthcoming FPS sequel Metro 2034 is to be renamed Metro 2033: Last Light, if a set of new URL registrations are to be believed.

Metro 2034 a possibility for PS3

Sequel overrode 2033 port, says author.

Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky reckons the newly revealed sequel - and conversion of his novel - Metro 2034 will also head to PS3.

Metro 2033 sequel will be 3D

Metro 2033 sequel will be 3D

Dubbed, imaginatively, Metro 2034.

THQ has revealed a sequel to Metro 2033. It's called Metro 2034 and will be offered in 3D.

Core games boss Danny Bilson shared the information with CVG.

THQ showed Metro 2033 running in NVIDIA 3D at E3 earlier this month. Bilson said the higher development costs of 3D are offset by the "unbelievably reasonable" cost of operations in Kiev, Ukraine.

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