The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: 4A Games

Thoughts of Metro: Exodus while crossing the Flood-Stricken Bridge in Metro: Last Light

“If you’re on the fence about buying this game, I was reading that the PC version uses a lot of power…I know that some people have the most monster computer, and I can’t even run this at a hundred percent.” —TheRadBrad on Metro: Last Light

Motivated by the recent E3 announcement of Metro: Exodus, I returned to the mission that I played through the day that campus had been closed owing to the Great Flood of 2013, and as the rain continued to fall outside, I reached this point in the campaign, following the young Dark One as he guides Artyom to his destination. Artyom’s pursuit of the young Dark One takes him back to the surface, where he intends to travel to Polis and make known the truth at a peace conference. As Artyom begins making his way across the bridge, a ferocious rain storm picks up, obfuscating the large number of enemies. In my original playthrough and a second one during the following summer, I went loud in this mission and immediately found myself against hordes of mutant animals. Fun it may have been to shoot my way through things, to acquire the screenshots for this short talk, I decided to go with a different, quieter approach: I made use of the throwing knives and carefully moved across the bridge. Firing exactly zero shots right up until the zip-line, it proved much more effective to be sneaky. Some of Metro: Last Light‘s best moments are set in the ruins of Moscow above the metro tunnels, and after starting out in yet another tunnel, the E3 demo brought viewers to a beautifully-rendered village above-ground. Artyom removes his mask, suggesting the air is clean, and equips a crossbow before preparing to board a train in the Ural Mountains. The sequel to Metro: Last Light, Metro: Exodus follows Artyom and Anna as they move with other Rangers to the Far East. Exodus will feature a new crafting system and dynamic weather, as well as a greater degree of open-world elements compared to its predecessors, and is set for release in February 2018.

  • One of my favourite aspects about Metro: Last Light after all this time is that droplets of water and mud that can accumulate on Artyom’s gas mask, requiring that players wipe it off with a stroke of the “G” key. There’s a Valve bolt-action rifle with a holographic RDS for close quarters engagements, but my old save files had me start out with a customised Valve equipped with a longer range scope, so I did not switch out my weapons here. After climbing out of a stairwell, players will find themselves on the lower deck of a bridge.

  • It would appear that during my last playthrough of Metro: Last Light three years ago, I had access to the Kalash 2012 and the Saiga-12 in addition to a Valve outfitted for long range engagements. In short, I was well-equipped to continue on with the game at this point, having weapons that draw from a different ammunition pool to ensure that I would never be without some options even if one of my three weapons were depleted. During the course of my playthroughs of Metro: Last Light and Metro 2033: Redux, I never used my military grade rounds in combat. Made with pre-war technology, these rounds hit incredibly hard and will emit a brighter muzzle flash as a result of their increased power.

  • To walk across the bridge again evokes many old memories: prior to my undergraduate convocation in June four years ago, the weather had been quite unassuming. It was not until the day of my graduation banquet with the Faculty of Health Sciences that rainfall had intensified: a light rain had been falling in the morning, and as I sat down to play through Highway 17 and Sandtraps in Half-Life 2, rainfall had intensified, continuing well into the evening. I still vividly recall shooting my way through the Overwatch Nexus the Monday after the flood waters receded, making a substantial donation to the flood relief efforts before pushing through with the mission.

  • I finished Half-Life 2 and Metro: Last Light closer to the end of June. By this point, I had completed Crysis and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as well. Owing to the disruption to transportation services resulting from the Great Flood of 2013, I was not able to go out to the mountains or even downtown, and so, spent a fair portion of early July wondering which titles could occupy my interest. I decided to give Vindictus a shot, and while it was fun to play through the first few missions, it became clear that this game was meant to be played with friends. After reaching level nine on a quiet, hot Canada Day, I felt that the game had lost most of its appeal.

  • Because the Steam 2013 sale had not commenced yet that year, I dropped Vindictus and began exploring Tribes: Ascend at a friend’s recommendation. While a fun experience, the learning curve and community made it difficult for me to really get into Tribes: Ascend. I had many great matches on beautifully-made maps (Crossfire and Dry Dock were my favourites): though nowhere near as detailed as something like Battlefield 1 or Crysis 3, there was definitely a charm to the visuals in Tribes: Ascend, continuing to play even after the 2013 Summer Sale occurred.

  • While remarkably entertaining and quite able to fulfil my original expectation of being a space shooter for replacing Halo 2, offering diversity in gameplay between Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Alan Wake, the prospect of a long progression ahead, coupled with the fact that I purchased Battlefield 3 later meant that my time spent in Tribes: Ascend dwindled. Even today, I’ve not found an equivalent for Halo 2 for PC as a space shooter, but Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 have proven to be exceptional multiplayer shooters that have since fulfilled the role of my online experience.

  • On my original playthrough, I opened fire and drew the ire of every living thing here; I’ve become a bit more cautious in the four years since then. Using just the throwing knives and the cover the storm provides, I managed to clear the entire bridge without altering the mutants to my position. It’s a little extreme as to how much of a difference being stealthy can be – even in other games, like Deus Ex and Crysis, a little stealth can turn the highest difficulty setting into a walk in the park.

  • While my filters are slowly being depleted, I looked around at the scenery in of the bridge. Armed with the GTX 1060, I am playing the game at full settings without any difficulty – previously, I played at “merely” high settings. With the slew of new titles announced at E3 (Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Wolfenstein IIMetro: Exodus and Far Cry 5), I’m actually quite curious to know if the 1060 will be able to run these games on recommended settings: it’s done remarkably well for Battlefield 1, and DOOM, so it’ll be insightful to learn where the card’s limits lie.

  • I imagine that the GTX 1060 will be able to perform admirably for most games released in 2018: even if I cannot get 60 FPS at ultra settings for 1080p, I’m generally okay with running on very high or high, since the differences usually require careful inspection to discern. This screenshot here of me with the Valve is an example of why I am so fond of the above-ground sections of Metro: Last Light, and I’ve heard that Metro: Exodus will be a cross-Russia journey, beginning in Moscow and concluding in the easternmost reaches of Russia.

  • My reminiscences about the games of summer 2013 draw to an end here, and for the remainder of the post, I consider some of my expectations for Metro: Exodus. Having played through this mission for the first time four years ago, and having made mention of the Great Flood of 2013 here, I will be returning very shortly to discuss the flood in a bit more detail, in conjunction with a revisitation of Makoto Shinkai’s The Garden of Words – I feel the time has become appropriate to look at the movie again with a different perspective.

When I first played through Metro: Last Light during 2013, I was impressed with the narrative and visuals of the game. Delving into things, I became more familiar with the Metro franchise as a whole, and it was therefore a pleasant surprise to learn that a continuation was being made. From the E3 footage and new information, the game is becoming closer to the title I was anticipating after watching “Ten minutes in the swamp” to learn more about the game I received with my old GPU. With its greater emphasis on crafting, and open exploration in conjunction with superb visuals, I am excited to see what directions Metro: Exodus will take. Further to this, the fact that Metro: Exodus is set in the Eastern reaches of Russia, with the eventual goal of reaching Siberia, Kolyma or even the Kamchatka peninsula, has greatly elevated my interest in the game. I’ve long been drawn to the mysterious nature of Russia’s far east beyond the Ural mountains, and a game set here provides a fantastic opportunity to explore a virtual interpretation of this side of the world. Cold, vast and desolate, it is here that some of Stalin’s most infamous Gulags were situated, and even today, the remoteness of the area means that populations remain very low. The area’s history means that, even though the terrain and biome is quite similar to the forests and tundra of Canada, there’s a sense of history in Russia’s far east that is simply absent in Canada. As such, I look forwards to learning more about Metro: Exodus, although it is most likely that I will, as I have for numerous games previously, pick it up once I learn more about the system requirements and game length, before making a definitive decision to buy the game shortly after launch or otherwise wait for a sale.

Metro 2033: Redux Review

“Humans had always been better at killing than any other living thing.” —Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033

While it may come across as somewhat strange, I played Metro: Last Light back during 2013, well before I played Metro 2033. This was because of a promotion that granted me a free copy of Metro: Last Light with my then-new GPU. I completed Metro: Last Light twice, once as a blind run and the second time to collect screenshots for my review. Then, during the 2015 Steam Summer Sale, the entire Metro franchise went on sale, and I decided to pick up Metro 2033: Redux to experience a remastered version of the story that started everything. In 2013, a nuclear war devastated Russia, forcing survivors in Moscow underground into the metro stations. Twenty years later, Artyom is sent to seek help from the Rangers when the Dark Ones attack their station. Fighting his way across the surface, and the territories of different factions, Artyom succeeds in reaching Polis, where Ranger Miller agrees to help him defeat the Dark Ones. Together with the Rangers, they activate the D6 missile silo and install a laser-guidance system at the top of a radio tower, destroying the Dark Ones. I went through the story on Spartan mode, so Metro 2033: Redux played quite similarly to Metro: Last Light. I beat the campaign in roughly eight hours, focusing on completion rather than exploration, and during the course of the game, there were numerous environments to explore and fight through. Consequently, I unlocked the standard, rather than good ending, and at some point in the future, I will return and play through again to see if I can unlock the good ending.

The original Metro 2033 was billed for its horror environment, and Spartan mode in Metro 2033: Redux was intended to lessen this atmosphere with an increased availability of supplies. However, even armed with more ammunition and supplies, Metro 2033: Redux still manages to be unsettling in some places. Audio cues, such as the shrieks and roars of distant mutants, or the distant voices of Fourth Reich soldiers, add to the suspense as Artyom makes his way through different areas. The unpredictability of some enemies, such as the librarians and demons, also serve to elevate the surprise that players encounter moving through the game. Coupled with the level design and choice of lighting in the different environments, there’s the sense that one can never be too certain of what’s lurking around the corner. Despite a reasonably impressive arsenal of weapons, the weapons’ efficacy against the demons vary, further contributing to the players’ sense of vulnerability. Conversely, in the populated areas, players would feel completely at ease, taking the time to explore and listen to some of the stories that the metro’s inhabitants have to say. Taken together, Metro 2033: Redux is able to convey the environment’s atmosphere to the player, and this contributes substantially to sense of immersion in the game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In keeping with the standards set by the Metro: Last Light review, this talk will also feature thirty screenshots. Metro 2033: Redux starts off in media res, giving Artyom a Kalash 2012 with a laser sight and reflex sight as the heads with Miller to the surface. A herd of watchers ambush them, and the game steps back eight days earlier, when Artyom was asked to travel to Polis to inform the Rangers of the Dark Ones’ presence.

  • The word “redux” is to “bring back” or “revive”, which is exactly what this version of Metro 2033 does. While it might have not been the best justification for picking up this title, I admit that I did wish to play Metro 2033: Redux so I could lay claim to being a blog that used the terms “Otafest” and “Redux” at least somewhere. A friend of mine created a detailed summary of his Otafest experiences last year and named the updated incarnation as Otafest Debriefings Redux, which sparked my intrigue in using the word here at least once.

  • The voice acting is similar to that of Metro: Last Light, and it is always a joy to explore well-populated areas, which are littered with signs of habitation. Details in the environment, whether it be merchants selling gun parts, vendors selling food and people conversing all around, it’s clear that people have adapted to life in the subway tunnels.

  • Unlike Metro: Last Light, the ghosts of Metro 2033 are best seen by directly shining a flashlight at them, whereas in the former, they’re best seen in the peripheries, and like Metro: Last Light cannot cause direct harm to the player. They are quite unnerving to behold, and resemble the blast-shadows leftover following a nuclear explosion, during which the intense light burns a person’s outline into a surface.

  • For the most part, the underground tunnels are quiet and disturbingly so, with faint growls from far-distant mutants. However, when they do make an appearance, the mutants themselves sometimes telegraph their presence, turning a suspenseful encounter into a firefight where a quick trigger finger and sharp wit will quickly decide the outcome of said encounter.

  • Numerous weapons in Metro 2033 made a return in Metro: Last Light, and it’s comforting to learn that reliable weapons, like the Shambler, are present in the former. Still deadly at close ranges and still with a long reload time, I kept the Shambler throughout my run as my primary close-quarters weapon, meant to take out any mutants.

  • The Bastard is an automatic weapon that fires assault rifle rounds, and despite being chambered for the same 5.45 x 39mm rounds of the Kalash, but I find it to be woefully under-powered compared to other rifles, even though it’s got a high rate of fire. Thus, as I did in Metro: Last Light, I traded in the Bastard on first opportunity and did not bother upgrading it.

  • My favourite segments of the Metro games happen at the surface: even though there’s a constant need to find replacement filters, there is a strange beauty about the cityscape abandoned by man. The extent of structural decay following the migration into the metro is consistent with what is outlined in Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us: buildings crumble, and even in a place with Moscow’s climate vegetation begins reclaiming the pavement.

  • Khan is introduced in the Ghosts level (that’s not a typographical mistake: there is a level called “Ghosts” in Metro 2033!) as a philosopher who occasionally associates with the Rangers. His knowledge about the paranormal phenomenon in the tunnels of the metro, enough to convince the ghosts to part and avoid anomalies. Consequently, even though Artyom might be traversing some of the spookier sections in Metro 2033: Redux, having Khan’s reassuring presence around eases tensions.

  • I recall spending a fair bit of time trapped in this area after detonating the explosives to seal an open tunnel that was allowing watchmen to enter. It turns out that there are stairwells off to the sides that lead to the next objective. The lack of a minimap, coupled with only a compass for guidance and dark maps means that a fair bit of time in Metro 2033: Redux is spent exploring, trying to figure out where to go.

  • Perhaps because of my innate familiarity with shooters, or perhaps because I’m uncommonly lucky, I was able to find my way about without too much difficulty. Here, I’ve acquired the Kalash (AK-74M), the mainstay assault rifle of both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. Highly versatile, it has a lower firing rate and high damage, making it an excellent mid-to-long range weapon. I’ve equipped mine with an IRNV scope and laser sight here, making it useful for combat in the tunnels against the Fourth Reich.

  • Though I tried my absolute best to maintain a stealthy profile and sneak through the area, I was eventually detected and forced to engage the few enemies that were left. I’ve always found that the weapons in Metro were superbly against human opponents, even though they’re inferior in quality to pre-war weapons; against most mutants, it would take an inordinate amount of ammunition to put them down for good.

  • Here, I help a small child return to his mother and politely decline her reward to earn a moral point. Despite my efforts to earn moral points where possible, it is likely that I did not earn enough to offset the fact that I frequently resorted to the Rambo-approach for extricating myself out of difficult situations.

  • The moon (or maybe a really faint sun) in this screenshot reminds me of the blood moon eclipse that I was fortunate enough to glimpse yesterday evening, which coincided with the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. After a dinner of roast duck, chicken and prawns, I savoured a slice of mooncake as cloud cover rolled in to cover the moon. While my area missed totality, I was able to see the partial eclipse, as the clouds covering the moon finally moved on, illuminating the landscape in moonlight. As an added bonus, the weather this year has been very nice, and we were fortunate in that, unlike last year, there was no snowvember-type event.

  • Consequently, I still saw enough of the eclipse to avoid missing out on an event that won’t occur again until…wait for it…2033. The weather remained pleasantly cool during the evening, so I could stand outside without discomfort. Demons are amongst the toughest enemies in Metro and require up to three entire magazines from the Kalash to down. Consequently, it makes more sense to make use of cover and avoid them.

  • I typically don’t equip a 4x scope on my weapons, given that Metro has always felt more to be a close-quarters shooter. However, for segments of the game set outdoors, sometimes, it is useful to hold onto a good ranged weapon. I’ve picked up a Kalash with the 4x sight here, but previously, I was rocking an IRNV-equipped Tihar pneumatic rifle as a stealth weapon, and decided to accept the suppressed VSV VSK-94 for subsequent sections of the game.

  • The abandoned streets of Moscow remind me of images of Pripyat by winter following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. From the documentation I’ve read, citizens of Pripyat were hastily evacuated and told they would be allowed to return in a few days, hence the presence of possessions in the apartment blocks. However, documentation for the various haikyo in Japan is virtually nonexistent, leading the inquisitive mind to wonder what circumstances led the buildings’ inhabitants to desert them with such haste.

  • Returning from Metro: Last Light is the awesome ability to torch spider webs using Artyom’s lighter. The spiders inhabiting the webs are harmless, but the webs do slow Artyom down: burning them will remove them as impediments and also yields a cool, realistic looking fire effect.

  • After meeting up with the Rangers, Artyom follows a small task force assigned with finding a folder containing the location of D6. Given this cryptonymn (Д-6) by the KGB, D6 is allegedly a secret subway system with a depth of between 50 and 200 meters. Its exact function is not known, but it’s been speculated to be for emergency use by government officials. Finding this one folder in the massive library complex feels like finding a needle in a haystack, since no one knows where the folder itself is.

  • After one of his party becomes injured, Artyom must continue the trek into the library alone. Here, I stare down a librarian, one of Metro 2033‘s toughest opponents. The best way to deal with them is to remain still, around one to three meters away, and stare them down, after which the librarian will treat Artyom as non-hostile. This is quite effective, except for the rare black librarians in the library’s basement and is the preferred way of handling them. The first time I encountered a librarian, I expended half my ammunition fighting it owing to its remarkable resilience.

  • Radioactive mushrooms illuminate a forgotten corridor at a point in the game I cannot quite remember. While not dangerous per se, these mushrooms do indicate regions where there is poisonous gas, making it prudent to reequip the gas mash. At some point earlier in the game, I found a pair of night vision goggles, which made it much easier to move through the darker sections of the game without being spotted. Their usage is balanced by the fact that lights will overwhelm the player, forcing them to remove the goggles.

  • The flamethrower is a highly effective weapon that easily makes short work of the mutants. I regret not carrying one into the last level, since ammunition for it is relatively common in comparison to shotgun and assault rifle ammunition. Users must be mindful of the air pressure and fuel remaining, and is most useful at close quarters. On any subsequent play-throughs, I’ll definitely carry a flamethrower with me into D6 to deal with the hordes of mutants.

  • I suddenly realise that I’ve no pictures of the Abzats, an automatic shotgun that is quite possibly one of the best weapons in Metro 2033: Redux at close quarters. Belt fed, it has a 20 round capacity and high rate of fire, allowing it to tear through opponents, but is hampered by a long reload time. Here, I’m wielding the Kalash 2012, an assault rifle that has a slightly higher rate of fire and lower damage than the Kalash. Its larger magazine is an asset for medium range combat.

  • One of the coolest weapons of Metro 2033: Redux is the Hellbreath, a weapon that makes use of an electromagnetic accelerator to fire metal projectiles at extremely high velocities, like a railgun. It is extremely powerful and has better endurance than the Tihar, but is not as accurate or stealthy. Owing to the sheer number of mutants encountered, by the time I reached the train station, I was out of ammunition for my Abzats and Kalash 2012, forcing me to use the Hellbreath in close quarters.

  • Consequently, Metro 2033: Redux‘s final sections were quite intimidating, as I felt ill-equipped to take on the giant amoeba, gelatinous balls of sludge that rush the player and miller. These balls can be destroyed using a single shot. The pores they spawn from do not need to be killed, since they only only produce one amoeba. In Metro 2033, the amoeba were much more frustrating as enemies, since the pores could produce multiple amoeba until they are killed.

  • One of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in Metro has to be the biomass, a pustulating mass of flesh that covers the reactor. It cannot be killed by conventional means and assaults victims with psychokinetic attacks, compelling them to walk into the biomass and become consumed. The entire area under the biomass is dripping with slimy organic substances and filled with amoeba, and when making use of the crane to open the valves, the biomass will try to destroy the crane, suggesting that it may have a limited degree of awareness.

  • It feels good to be back out in the open air, and back to where Metro 2033 first began: with D6 located, the time has come to climb the Ostankino Radio Tower. With a height of 540 metres, it was completed in 1967, and was the tallest building in the world until the CN Tower was completed in 1976. The tower suffered a fire in 2000 and knocked out television broadcasts to the Moscow area, but this was repaired.

  • A demon attempts to consume Miller before Artyom intervenes. The only weapon with any ammunition left, I emptied the Hellbreath’s entire magazine into it to kill the demon. There are several demons at this point in the game, and the documentation suggests that some of them are invincible, meant to be part of scripted sequences.

  • The view from the top of the Ostankino Radio Tower is phenomenal, and the effect is brought out to the fullest in Metro 2033: Redux. The developers used satellite images to generate the textures, resulting in reasonably accurate layout of Moscow. The extent of the nuclear war’s devastation can be seen: although the tower itself appears to have survived the detonation, a crater can be seen below.

  • The last portion of Metro 2033 after placing down the SOFLAM is to experience a trance of some sort. It’s one of the more surreal sections in the game, and once the end of this space is reached, the ending begins to play. This time, there was no flood as I progressed through the different levels, and with Metro 2033: Redux finished, I’m going to divide my time between Sakura Angels and Call of Duty: Black Ops (the former is from the 2015 Summer Sale latter and the latter, I picked up on a sale out of a desire to experience a story that could have occurred concurrently with the events of Higurashi).With my posting quota for September reached, I’ll return in October to blog about Gochuumon wa Usage Desu ka?? and some other topics as they come to mind.

Having completed Metro 2033: Redux, I can say that this was a highly entertaining title, and now, I’m inclined to read the novel for myself. Whereas Metro: Last Light dealt with Artyom’s experiences a year after Metro 2033, the Ranger’s occupation of D6 and the different factions coveting D6; the story in Metro 2033 is simpler, following Artyom’s journey to Polis and discovery of D6. As such, it might be seen as a coming-of-age story for Artyom. Consequently, Metro: Last Light really allows for Metro 2033 to shine, as it depicts Artyom’s fate following the events of Metro 2033, and now that this is done, I’ve fully experienced the story of Metro. As far as replay value goes, I’ll definitely go back and try the game out for the good ending, perhaps even capitalising on the fact that Metro 2033: Redux comes with Ranger mode, which completely dispenses with the HUD for a truly immersive experience. While this was not included in the standard edition of Metro: Last Light (much to the chagrin of many), it is nice that Metro 2033: Redux comes with all the bells and whistles. Those who’ve played both Metro 2033 and Metro 2033: Redux have varying opinions about whether or not the graphics update was worthwhile, but there are new features that make Metro 2033: Redux handle and play more smoothly, and ultimately, the improvement to the visuals means that the game’s strongest point (its atmospherics) succeed in conveying the mood in and around a post-apocalyptic Moscow even more effectively than the original.

Ten Minutes In The Swamp- Metro: Last Light

After reaching the surface, Artyom finds himself overlooking a foggy swamp below. Instructed to stay near the flags and make his way across to a church controlled by the Rangers, this level was featured in a short demo back during March 2013, prior to the game’s release in May 2013. Shortly after I picked up a copy of the game during early May, I was quite interested as to what Metro: Last Light entailed, and the aforementioned demo video was one of the first that I encountered. I was immediately impressed with the attention that was paid to detail; whether it was subtle things like monsters scuttling around the map, or flies landing on Artyom’s visor, small things lent themselves to enhancing the scene’s immersion. At the time, I was still making my way through Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Crysis and Half-Life 2, so I did not actually begin Metro: Last Light until late June. This was the month where the infamous flood occurred: it had been quite rainy for a week leading up to the flood, and during mid-June, I was making my way between the main campus and medical campus frequently, as the project I was working on last year was gearing up. At around this time, I also had the opportunity to watch The Garden of Words: the frequent rainfall in the anime and in the city continued to subtly remind me of water droplets accumulating on Artyom’s visor in the Metro: Last Light demo.

  • For this playthrough, I’ve decided to stick to a similar loadout used in the original GameSpot demo: the weapons equipped include the Kalash with a reflex sight, the Lolife (IRV scope and laser sight) and the Duplex (no attachments). The first thing seen in the demo was the sun breaking through the clouds: the graphics here look slightly differently compared to those in the demo version.

  • For conventional play-throughs, I am unlikely to stick to the Duplex for too long because of its limited capacity: the Shambler is available from a vendor a few missions back. While it does a smaller amount of damage at point blank range, the shots it fires are tighter, and it has a larger ammunition capacity.

  • I’m not running Metro: Last Light on full settings, but even then, things look amazing. The significance of graphical fidelity in video games is the subject of no small scholarly debate, with some individuals arguing that gameplay and/or story is more significant than graphics, while others find that high graphics quality pushes the industry forwards as developers and hardware manufacturers are forced to continue innovating in order to keep up and continue to make sales.

  • Here is the aforementioned Lolife pistol: unlike the Duplex, it is quite useful and can be customised with a very diverse range of attachments. Returning to the previous discussion, for me, I find that graphics add immersion to the game if done properly, but that depends on the game itself having a solid story and setting. Metro: Last Light is one such instance, since the world-building is extensive and really gives players the sense that they are in a post-apocalyptic world.

  • In the GameSpot demo, the gas station is the first place checked for fuel canisters. There’s a container here with some filters, but to get to those filters, the player must disrupt the spiders crawling all over a body. It might be a video game, but it doesn’t make the spiders any less unsettling to watch as the scuttle around. There are a lot of critters in this level that don’t harm the player, such as the crows, small shrimps and spiders, but larger shrimps will attack.

  • Since the fuel cans from the gas station are empty, it’s onwards to the downed airplane. If players check the plane first, the fuel will be in the gas station. There was a Shambler in the demo version, but it seems that has been removed in the final build. I wasn’t able to find a Shambler, and typically, I prefer purchasing one earlier on so I have access to increased options for combat. Artyom will encounter the bog shrimp here for the first time, and although it’s a scripted sequence, the first time it strikes, one is taken by surprise because there’s no music or any cues to indicate that something is about to happen.

  • If memory serves, Metro: Last Light is one of the earliest first person shooters I’ve played where there is an emphasis on collecting supplies. It adds a bit of immersion to the game, giving a slight RPG-like feel to things, since it is no longer sufficient to shoot things and collect more ammunition or new guns. Instead, the supplies help the player out (whether it be restoring health or providing additional filters). The next game I played to have such a system was BioShock Infinite, and now, as I make my way through Deus Ex; Human Revolution, I find that having an inventory and supplies to track make a game more engaging, as opposed to just shooting one’s way through things.

  • Earlier, I went exploring and found a Kalash 2012 in the level, in an abandoned building guarded by a tripwire. The Kalash 2012 found lacks any attachments, but it does save one the trouble of having to purchase one later. The church is just visible in the distance, although it won’t be reached for another mission. After watching this demo, I made my way to the medical campus for a lab meeting, and the rain began falling. I recall marveling at just how solid the weather effects in modern-era games are.

  • Seven minutes have elapsed, but the sun begins setting quite quickly. Take too long on this level in trying to find all of the hidden caches of supplies, and nightfall will occur. I’ve now beaten Metro: Last Light twice, and will be setting both it and Battlefield 3 aside to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which I purchased during last year’s Steam Sale. I also picked up a handful of titles this year. I’ll be doing a short talk on that after the Summer 2014 sale ends. Besides the Steam 2014 Summer sale, talks coming over over the next week or so will be for the first episodes to the Summer 2014 anime season, followed by a talk on Is the Order a Rabbit? and Knights of Sidonia.

  • “What happens when you get a really slow moving thing…time to stack up the defenses. It always happens.” As noted in the previous post, whenever one is waiting for a ride to arrive, there will always be an onslaught of bad guys or monsters to fight. There were claymores all over the map earlier, and a few extra by the motorised winch, as well. Shrimpsare easily felled by the claymores, and even after the bog shrimp appears, the claymores will quickly damage it enough to trigger the next sequence, where it fights a demon. It’s time to high-tail it out of here and end the mission.

I would eventually beat all of the aforementioned games and finally kick off Metro: Last Light late in June, experiencing this mission for the first time for myself. The mission is one of my favourites for the level’s layout. While the main goal is to find fuel for a winch-ferry to traverse the swamp’s deeper sections, there are supplies hidden away on different corners in the swamp that merit further exploration. Said supplies range from additional military-grade rounds and a Kalash 2012, to extra filters and explosives. Artyom is occasionally attacked by swamp monsters (mainly the shrimps, lianas and sometimes, demons) at unexpected intervals while exploring the far reaches of the swamp, and contributing to the sense of unease is the fact that there’s no music throughout much of the mission. Instead, the ambient sounds encourage players to pay careful heed to their environment, and a bit of skill will allow one to find the fuel cans and move onwards. There is one further touch to this mission: as time elapses, the skies gradually darken as the day makes way for nightfall. While other players may cite this mission as “unbeatable”, all it takes is a bit of patience and coordination; as with the demo, it is quite possible to complete the swamp within a ten-minute span, although the environments are more conducive to a bit more exploration.

Metro: Last Light Review

“You humans killed all your people…cruel…foolish…evil.” —The Baby Dark One on human nature

Metro: Last Light is a first person shooter with stealth and survival horror elements. Produced by 4A studios, the game was released in May 2013. As the successor to Metro 2033, Metro: Last Light continues with Artyom’s story, a year after the events of Metro 2033. By this point in time, the Rangers have occupied D6, a massive bunker with uncharted tunnels. D6 draws the attention of the other factions, who are preparing for war in order to seize the contents for their own gain. As tensions mount, Khan, a mystic, informs the order that a Dark One had survived. The Dark Ones were previously thought to have been hostile until the final moments of Metro 2033, and at present, Artyom suffers from nightmares after launching the missiles that wiped out most of them. While Khan wishes to make peace with the Dark One, the order sends Artyom and their top sniper, Anna, to eliminate it. However, what was originally a simple mission eventually sees Artyom traversing the unexplored depths of the Moscow metro, learning more about the Dark Ones and eventually stopping the Red Line from taking D6. Metro: Last Light was originally bundled with my GPU a year ago, and despite hearing about installation difficulties, I was able to get the game running without much difficulty. The first element that impressed me were the atmospherics. The details in the environments, whether it be the underground barracks and cities, abandoned tunnels or stretches of the surface, add a sense of immersion to the game that throughly convinces the players that this is a post-apocalyptic world where the inhabitants have depended on their ingenuity to survive, and one where nature is slowly reclaiming what was once its domain. Once the initial awe at the atmospherics sets in, Metro: Last Light presents an intricate story that weaves forgiveness together with a reminder of both the best and worst sides of human civilisation.

  • If memory serves, my last Metro: Last Light post was written after I first downloaded the game from Steam and got the game running without any issues. This was a one year, one month and one day ago, and it seems that, at long last, I’ve finally gotten around to talking about the game I got through a promotion. However, the first time I beat this, I was not taking screenshots, so I needed to play through a second time to get them, in the process recalling memories of this game from last year.

  • Thus, on my second playthrough, I took some 170 images and trimmed that collection down to a more manageable 30 for use in this discussion. After capture by the Reich forces early on in the game, Artyom escapes with the assistance of Pavel, a Red Line soldier but loses all of his weapons from earlier. A silenced revolver is one of the first weapons reacquired, although I prefer sneaking around and avoiding confrontation where possible: having played through many shooters, stealth is nice every now and then.

  • Pavel proves to be an indispensable ally early on in the game, providing plenty of friendly dialogue to brighten up the desolate surroundings. Here, I am wielding the Bastard, a gun compatible with the 5.45 mm ammunition. With a high rate of fire and poor accuracy, I found a version fitted with an IRV scope: the scope is quite useful for checking out darker areas without exposing one’s position and has unlimited battery life. It continues working even in areas where ghostly interference disrupts the flashlight and night vision goggles, but has a narrow field-of-view.

  • The non-combat sections of the game feel particularly immersive, and I watched the entirety of the theater performance before moving on. There is a lot of conversation going on in populated areas, and despite looking grim, these areas do feel like home with all the clutter and elements found in homes, making it worthwhile to stop and listen, or explore around. Here, Pavel will betray Artyom to the Red Line, but quite personally, I see him as doing his job and, upon encountering him again later, I’ll choose to forgive him.

  • Most of Metro: Last Light  is set in dark areas, and although some gamers have tried to set the gamma values up so the game would appear brighter, but found that this actually reduces the image quality. The solution is to make good use of the flashlight, lighter, night vision goggles or IRV scope. The flashlight and night vision goggles need to be charged occasionally to ensure they’re bright enough to illuminate the tunnels.

  • This is the obligatory on-the-rails mission, reminiscent of a similar mission in Half Life. There are a lot of branching passage ways to the side, leading to abandoned rooms with notebook pages (which explain more details to the story), supplies and ammunition, and military-grade rounds, which act as the currency in the Metro but can also be used as exceptionally powerful rounds. It’s possible to get through the game without using them for the most part, and saving them allows for better weapons and attachments to be purchased.

  • Watchmen and Spiderbugs are the most common monsters encountered early on. The former are mutants with a mammalian form, characterised by their dark fur and organisation into packs, while the latter are gigantic hybrid between spiders and scorpions, whose weakness to light causes them to flip over and expose their weak undersides. I prefer taking on all monsters with a shotgun of some sort, since they tend to attack at close range, although in some sections, they come from a distance and can be picked off by a weapon with better range.

  • En route to Venice, an underground city set in the Metro’s waterways, the player will fight Shrimps for the first time. These large crustaceans are said to taste great with a beer,  and come in several forms: the first ones encountered can be dismissed with shotgun rounds, but later on, the amphibious ones have heavily armoured claws that can stop shotgun rounds, but stagger when it, allowing them to be finished quite quickly.

  • I’ll do a longer talk (with roughly ten images) on the Swamp mission later because it holds a special place in my heart: after I purchased a new GPU last year and obtaining this game, I decided to watch some trailers and see what the game was about. I ended up seeing the 10 minutes in the Swamp trailer, which convinced me that Metro: Last Light was looking to be a game I would enjoy. While we’re on the topic of future blog posts, up next is a talk on Love Lab (which will be written once I get the screenshots for it), AudioSurf (long deserving of a short talk), and when their respective series close off, the final reflections for Is the Order a Rabbit? and Knights of Sidonia. This brings us to early July: I will do initial impressions, mid-season and final impressions posts for each of Glasslip, Aldnoah Zero, Sword Art Online II, Sabagebu! and Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita as the summer wears on into August, plus a talk on Wolfire Overgrowth (I am looking to buy that during the Steam Summer 2014 Sale), and another Battlefield 3/Upotte! talk somewhere in August.

  • Besides the aforementioned games and four summer anime, Girls und PanzerNon Non Biyori, and Tamayura ~More Aggressive~ are getting OVAs. I’ll try to get those out as soon as possible. This should cover everything I plan on writing about for the remainder of the summer. Every FPS gamer knows that, if supplies are generously present and while waiting for a ride to appear, chances are, there will be an onslaught of monsters to fight. My preferred strategy for this part is to lay down some claymores and equip the shotgun. The first few shrimps will rush the player, triggering the claymores and wiping them out quickly. There’s a small resupply box nearby, so there’s no fear of running short of claymores or lacking them for the fight to follow.

  • A bog shrimp will occasionally engage Artyom as the latter makes his way closer to the church. Night has fallen now, and the swamps are somewhat difficult to navigate under the cover of darkness. Moreover, there are pockets of radiation here: besides the flags, which mark the trail, radiation pockets help guide the way. One of the more subtle things I enjoyed about Metro: Last Light was the accumulation of mud and blood on the visor while the gas mask is equipped, which can be wiped off, as well as the ever-present water droplets. Gas masks do need to be replaced if they sustain too much damage, and every five minutes, filters need replacing.

  • Even at present day, there are a lot of abandoned places in Russia, such as disused heavy industrial complexes, deserted military installations and derelict mines. Like the haikyo of Japan, there’s a strange attraction to these sites, which bear testament to the ebb and flow of human settlement and activity. Two locations stand out: Pripyat, a city abandoned soon after the Chernobyl disaster, and Kadykchan, a desolate mining town where winter conditions reigned for ten months of the year. After coal mining no longer proved profitable in the latter, a mass exodus ensued, leaving some 200 residents behind with no power or running water in one of the most desolate regions in the world.

  • Paired with the Shambler, liberal use of Claymores and incendiary grenades make short work of the bog shrimp that has been dogging Artyom throughout this mission. The Shambler is a relatively common shotgun in Metro: Last Light and is highly effective at close quarters. With a six-round capacity, it is more useful than the Duplet (a double-barreled shotgun), but it’s also hampered by a long reload time.

  • After Anna is captured by Lesnitsky, Artyom makes his way through the Moscow catacombs. With numerous areas where the flashlight stops working, and large caverns dating back to before the war, this is said to be the most unnerving section in the game. It is recommended that one carries the Saiga-12 and Kalash-2012 into the catacombs to provide some heavy firepower against the Nosalis mutants that inhabit these tunnels. Later on, the Nosalis Rhino appears and must be defeated: despite its vast strength, claymores are quite useful against it during the second encounter.

  • The Helsing is one of two stealth weapons in the game, firing arrows that can be retrieved after they fulfill their role. An exceptionally powerful stealth weapon at close range, the Helsing is less effective at longer ranges, given that the arrows travel in an arc, but in the tunnels, it is unmatched in performance should one opt to shoot their way through sticky situations.

I find that Metro: Last Light is best played through as a visual novel with shooter elements: there is so much happening around Artyom that enhances the sense of realism in their world. Besides the mandatory conversations that explain the main story, it is possible to stop and listen to the Metro’s other inhabitants talk about their lives and experiences, and even sit through a theatre performance. Listening to these stories and experiencing performances (or buying a few drinks in Venice) adds a sense of depth to their world; the conversations and high level of detail in the environment interact with one another to give the impressions of a society that has adapted well to life in the tunnels. Besides listening to conversations, there are also subtle points in the game that allow for additional interaction, whether it be playing instruments randomly scattered through the map, or partaking in a carnival-style shooting game to receive a prize that winds up being a toy a local boy lost. While Artyom is not walking through populated areas and taking in the sights, the combat aspect is solid for the most part, barring the occasional faults in AI. In addition to a respectable arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles and stealth weapons, players can also access Claymores, throwing knifes and grenades. Those who feel inclined to sneak around the dark corners of the map and knock out enemy guards are free to do so, although it is equally as fun to rush into a firefight with guns blazing. Different play-styles and actions in the game ultimately lead to different endings, though, and now, having played through the game twice, I wound up twice with the ‘bad end’, despite having more insight as to how the morality system worked the second time around.

  • For the remainder of the game, I’ll be carrying the Kalash-2012, Saiga-12 and Valve: this loadout sacrifices ranged stealth weapons for weapons diversity, allowing for maximum effectiveness at all ranges. The Saiga-12 is the best shotgun available in Metro: Last Light, wrecking enemies at close quarters. With a high rate of fire and a short reload time, it is the ultimate weapon for most encounters, and I typically field it with the laser sight and a red dot sight.

  • I will later upgrade the red dot sight to the 4x scope on the Valve, turning it into a true sniper rifle. For most of the game, the Valve isn’t particularly useful because most enemies will be encountered at short to medium ranges. There are short sections of the game where the Valve is useful, though, and it is worth keeping the weapon around for picking off distant targets outdoors. At closer ranges, the sniper rifle’s slow rate of fire makes it a liability, especially when there are numerous opponents.

  • Besides The Swamp, The Bridge is one of my favourite missions, featuring the Luzhniki Metro Bridge during the spring thaw. Artyom must carefully make his way across the ice and enter the bridge. By this point in time, the Dark One will be accompanying Artyom, learning more about humans and occasionally offering assistance.

  • I prefer the the Kalash-2012 over the standard Kalash owing to its higher rate of fire and increased default magazine size compared to the other assault rifles, making it useful for close quarters engagements. Adding a sight extends its versatility further. The Kalash-2012 is actually inspired by the FN P90, a bullpup submachine gun that fires FN 5.7 x 28 mm rounds and, in Battlefield 3, has become one of my most used personal defense weapons.

  • The first time I played through this mission, a flood advisory was in place for the city, and the University was closed. I had left the laptop on campus and had no way of recovering it, so I spent most of the day writing the review to Makoto Shinkai’s The Garden of Words. Even though the rainfall in the city wasn’t so bad, heavy rain in the mountains, coupled with vast quantities of snowmelt, led rivers to overflow their banks. A large portion of the city center was flooded, and I thus shelved my plans to go downtown on Friday for poutine, being immensely thankful that I am quite far from any river.

  • I arrive in a railyard here: under moody, rainy skies, this is yet another instance of the incredible atmospherics in Metro: Last Light. The game has been compared to Half-Life 2, being more about the moods the environments evoke rather than the shooting and combat. Coupled with a compelling story, I personally felt that, even if it’s not the most innovative shooter, Metro: Last Light is something story-driven shooters should strive towards in terms of design, featuring more spoken dialogue and making use of the environment to aid the story.

  • While the Dark One may say that these soldiers are rather quick to fire, it is possible to sneak past all of them without firing a single shot. By this point in the game, most soldiers will drop filters, as well as some military grade rounds and additional supplies. I do not believe that sneaking up on a straggler and knocking him out will cost any moral points, making this a viable way to resupply if needed.

  • For some reason, this scene reminds me of Portal 2Metro: Last Light has some steeper requirements, and according to NVIDIA, a GTX 690 or GTX Titan is suggested to enjoy the game in its full glory. However, my current GPU handles the game reasonably well, so there’s really no need to run an insanely expensive GPU to enjoy this game.

  • I have decided to equip all of my weapons with the laser sight simply because of my propensity to engage people at close ranges. As such, bringing my weapon up to aim down the sights is not always practical compared to firing from the hip. I recall an older day in gaming, before Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came along, when aiming down the sights was the default mode of firing. Only certain weapons (usually those with optics) could zoom in, and firing from the hip was accurate.

  • I am outside the Kremlin here, having fought my way through tunnels underneath a residential block; the whole area is quite unnerving, and on occasion, Artyom will experience visions of the families who lived their prior to the nuclear war that wiped out a large portion of the world. The information surrounding the war is scarce, but according to the source materials, some twenty thousand warheads were fired. The first missiles were fired by Middle Eastern countries, and the American retaliation subsequently brought Russia into the war. While some areas were spared, large portions of the planet were rendered uninhabitable.

  • This is one of the few moments in the game where the Valve is useful: Red Line soldiers, and Pavel himself, hide amongst the ruins with sniper rifles. While the Dark One will occasionally help locate them, the soldiers are also equipped with green laser sights. They project a highly visible beam that allows them to be located easily, and although some soldiers will enter the courtyard, most of them will remain in the windows and openings above. After taking down everyone, Pavel will appear and taunt Artyom, before being wounded. Here, Artyom may either save Pavel or leave him to die; recall that Pavel was quite friendly and is merely doing is job, so saving him feels like it’s the right decision.

  • The Gardens is where the forest guardian, a gargantuan bear, makes its home. Despite its massive size and fearsome appearance, the bear has a weak spot on its back that can be fired upon. During the fight with the bear, watchmens also attack. Here, the Saiga-12, grenades and the Kalash-2012 are the best bet. Once enough damage is done to the forest guardian, it will flee, and be assaulted by a pack of watchmen. As with real bears, the forest guardian is merely protecting its cubs, and has no malevolence towards Artyom. Shooting the watchmen off the bear will save it and earn an achievement, as well as a moral point.

  • I’ve now fast-forwarded past the part where Maxim Moskvin reveals that Korbut is planning to storm D6 and take over the Metro while peace talks are being held. While Moskvin appears to be in charge early on, he was manipulated by Korbut and lives with regret for his past actions. With this news, the Rangers gear up for a final battle against the Red Line soldiers. The onslaught of Red Line soldiers means that here, shooting to kill is the only option. This is the one level where killing people will not result in a loss of moral points: the ending is decided by the time Artyom reaches Polis.

  • If one has not already done so, there will be a fine opportunity to pick up and use the Preved, the best sniper rifle in Metro: Last Light. The Preved is first seen in Anna’s hands, and while this anti-materiel rifle is unmatched in terms of damage, it has a limited magazine capacity and slow firing rate. Its use is limited throughout most of the game, but in the Battle for D6, its extreme power makes it the only weapon capable of destroying the tank, and it is highly useful against the heavily-armoured, flamethrower-wielding behemoth. A few well-placed shots will wreck the tank’s transmission and weapons, as well as rupture the flamethrower soldier’s fuel tanks.

  • The Gatling gun is only available in the final level and fires 12.7x108mm rounds, the same ammunition fielded by the Preved. With its overwhelming firepower and high fire rate, even a single bullet will take down the Red Line soldiers. Despite having a belt consisting of 500 rounds, it’s advisable to fire in short bursts to reduce recoil and prevent the weapon from running out of ammunition too quickly. In the end, it turns out that D6 only contained bioweapons of the sort seen in the earlier levels, lacking the supplies and medicine needed to sustain the Metro. In light of this, D6 was rigged with explosives to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, and after the final moments, I was treated to the conventional ending, in spite of having knowledge of how the morality system works. This is a subtle callback to reality, where having better preparedness and prior experience is not sufficient for success. Of course, this isn’t meant to be discouraging: I remark that attempting again or finding another way are both appropriate actions.

On my first play-through, I stuck to a more traditional FPS approach, blasting everything beneath the sights. Conversely, I decided to play with more stealth, sneaking past guards rather than killing them. I took the time to explore, give money to beggars, and preferred forgiving Lesnitsky and Pavel, as opposed to taking them down. When I was taking on the infamous Bear in the gardens, I saved it from the Watchmen. I also paid more heed to the Dark One’s words, holding my fire to avoid unnecessary conflict with the wildlife. Soon, I reached the game’s end, and following the onslaught against the Red Line, I watched as the other Rangers were overwhelmed. In the game’s final moments, Artyom picks up the detonator, and destroys D6, along with much of the Red Line forces. In spite choosing the path of forgiveness and making an effort to reach an understanding with the Dark Ones, Artyom wound up sacrificing his life anyways. From a technical standpoint, this means I did not try hard enough to accumulate moral points and unlock the good ending. However, this also reflects on the nature of reality: Metro: Last Light illustrates that even for all the good people do, sometimes, things simply take a bad turn. This may come across as being harsh: why shouldn’t those who work hard for the world be rewarded? Reality is, of course, even more unyielding, but taking a step back reveals that the good was not accomplished for nothing; although Artyom makes his sacrifice, it sows the seeds for a future where the Dark Ones and humanity begin to cooperate. This sort of emotional depth is one of the main joys in Metro: Last Light; coupled with solid world-building and darker themes compared to most of the shooters I’ve experienced (save BioShock Infinite), Metro: Last Light proves itself to be more than a conventional first-person shooter.

A first look at Metro: Last Light

I was told that Metro: Last Light was a game that would put my new machine to the test back in January, when I was contemplating the specifications for the machine I would build come late April. By the time April arrived, a promotional offer with NVIDIA meant that I would be getting a free copy of the standard edition of Metro: Last Light. My video card was eligible for the promotion, and as such, I would have gotten another game to add to my library. However, owing to mis-communications, my video card shipped without the promotional code. An email to the supplier rectified that, and I pre-loaded the game off Steam yesterday evening, before it unlocked today.

  • The metro is dark and gritty, contrasting the bright, yet desolate surface world. See that watch? It tells players how much time they have left on their gas masks (protecting them from radioactive gases on the surface) before they need to replace the filter. The removal of the HUD, aside from essentials, give the game a completely immersive feel: I exhausted a filter while running around in circles, trying to hunt down something here.

  • I’m running the game on recommended settings. One of my favourite aspects is the amount of details on all of the surfaces. I will play through the entire game at some point in the near future and do a series of posts about it.

After hearing numerous grievances on the Steam community about FOV limitations, crashes when changing the resolution, and menu layout bugs, I decided to load the game up for the first time and see if these errors were indeed a possibility on my system. Fortunately, the game got to the main menu without any issues: the fact that Steam began downloading a patch may have rectified some of these bugs (other sources report that the game randomly locks up and crashes, has issues saving, or minimises one to the desktop every few minutes). From the half-hour of the game I’ve experienced thus far, the game is smooth, detailed and intricate. The tunnels are dark and dank, while the surface depicts all of the beauty of a once-great world. The guns are unlike those of any shooter I’ve played previously (including Borderlands), and feel powerful: shortly after arriving at the surface with Anna to hunt down the “Dark one”, a pack of monsters show up, and I cut them down with my assault rifle. As I jump through pools of water, my visor becomes mucked up, forcing me to clear it with my hand. I stopped playing after my character, Artyom, gets captured by what appears to be the Nazi Reich and was left with a sense of awe at what the game can accomplish. Assuming this game doesn’t crash on my adventures through the post-apocalyptic world, I foresee a great adventure ahead of me: critics have given the game positive acclaim for the fact that Metro: Last Light plays with a similar dystopian atmosphere to Half-Life 2. Considering that the latter is nearly ten years old now and still sets the benchmark for story and atmospherics, this is no easy feat and bears testament to how immersive Metro: Last Light is.