THQ hopes to rekindle memories of the best story-driven first-person shooters such as Half-Life 2 with its own effort, Metro: Last Light.
The publisher believes Metro 2033 sequel Last Light, a dark, atmospheric horror shooter set in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, will satisfy story starved shooter fans fatigued by the current infatuation with multiplayer focused military FPS.
"When I remember Half-Life 2 I don't remember just shooting things, I remember moments, like the escape from the boat, or crossing the bridge, or investigating the farm or invading the prison," 4A Games communications lead Huw Beynon told Eurogamer.
"I talk about it the way I remember and talk about a really great film I've seen. One of the things we saw with Metro 2033 and hopefully we'll see with Last Light is people talking about the things they've seen and the moments they experienced. That's what we mean by being story and scenario driven."
According to Beynon, Last Light is designed to be the antithesis of the Call of Duty template: short, corridor campaigns that, in his opinion, amount to little more than training for multiplayer. THQ;s belief is these games are quickly forgotten, and Last Light, which prioritises its campaign over its confirmed multiplayer features, will be remembered.
"You see in so many shooters filler content," Beynon said. "You build up an environment and what you do in that environment is reduced to moving and shooting. What you'll find in Metro is an incredible amount of attention spent making each moment narrative driven. We don't recycle that many art assets. We've managed to get a huge amount of visual variety given we have this underground and post-apocalyptic location. Each combat encounter, whether it's versus mutants or humans, will feel completely different throughout the game depending on the environment you're fighting in. It's those kinds of things we think will create those moments that will stand out and people will remember."
He added: "The trend we've seen from the military genre is you're placed in an environment, which is essentially a big long funnel, and every single enemy is waiting for you, gun at the ready, and you gradually advance through. Your gameplay is identifying where the next target is, popping out of cover, shooting him, popping back into cover, occasionally manning a gun turret.
"In our combat environment, certainly against humans, we give you much more realised environments, whether it's an encampment or a factory floor, where you see your opponents and they're not ready, just waiting for you the player and your advancing force to move on through. They're much broader environments you can pick your own path through, whether it's brute force or a tactical, stealthy approach."
Based on the trailers so far released for the game, some fans have expressed concern that Last Light has ditched some of the complex gameplay mechanics of its predecessor.
But Beynon warned fans against judging the game after watching footage taken from a single level, and denied THQ was forcing developer 4A Games to "Westernise" the IP in its attempt to broaden the audience.
"This isn't a play for a super mass market Call of Duty beater," he explained. "We're not trying to be Transformers: The Movie. We're trying to be District 9. Something with a little more artistic credibility. It was important we let the studio continue to deliver their vision and ambitions for the game. We didn't want to compromise that by saying you have to simplify your gameplay mechanics or you have to make the story nice and simple, or you have to have more action or more run and gun because the market says this is what we want.
"Actually, we think gamers are crying out for something more sophisticated and original, and if we can get the level of polish this time around and we can give the game the promotional support THQ has admitted it failed at last time, it will be very successful and create something that will stay true to the studio's artistic vision and not have to make market driven concessions."
Beynon said 4A Games will smooth some of the rough edges of the first game and introduce mechanics in a more intelligent way. This is seen by some as an attempt to make Last Light more accessible than 2033, but Beynon insisted it is, in fact, more complex, with a new face mask wiping system, new alternative fire functions and a bigger inventory.
"Just because THQ has given the game a bigger focus and is determined to put more of a marketing support behind it this time round, doesn't mean we've made concessions to the gameplay," he said. "It just means we've recognised there's an audience for that kind of gameplay, and so long as the product is polished and we communicate those effectively to the player, they'll grab those with both hands."
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