It was the spider webs. Out of everything seen in the first public sighting of Metro: Last Light, it was the silvery strands with matching arachnids that most impressed your perhaps slightly warped reporter. Hatred of spiders notwithstanding, the webs showcased how impressive this game is and will be.
THQ's Huw Beynon proudly states that Metro is the new Crysis, the benchmark for PC users to use when demonstrating the quality of their rig. Run it at maximum detail and your eyes will melt with joy. And it didn't look half bad on the consoles too. Some people took issue with the slightly ropey combat and stealth, and even for an advocate of the game, these problems were hard to deny.
So, THQ have set about solving these issues while continuing to improve on what they did right in 2033. At least, that's what they say they've been doing. As the game's set for a 2012 release, the code your reporter feasted his spider-filled eyes on is still early, but the signs are indeed promising.
But don't expect a huge departure, there's no way developers 4A Games will be ruining things by going for the mass market appeal option. Beynon says THQ as a whole have “rejected the 'dial it up to 11' mentality” that has afflicted so many other sequels recently. However, while they won't talk about it now, there will indeed be a multiplayer component.
One of the main criticisms was the lack of feedback with the environment and the enemies you shot, something 4A are keen to address. The footage presented showed scenery blasted to smithereens by gunfire and a more resounding thump to bullets piercing enemy bodies, though it has to be said it's difficult to tell just how much more satisfying it feels from a non-hands-on demonstration.
The weapons you'll be using to cause this damage is still of the rough and ready variety, although there was a chain gun that needed to be cranked up when used. And yep, there's still the pneumatic rifle which has to be pumped up by hand.
Like the first game, there'll be a number of different ways to negotiate each level, using stealth or brute force to make your through enemy areas, plus there'll be friendly areas to explore like the home station in the first game. There'll also be a chance to have another look at the startling Polis, the centre of the Metro and the only place you'll find anything close to 'normal' life.
There wasn't much sign of the outside world other than a quick pan across the city at the beginning, before showing our returning hero, Artyom, descending into Reich, the Fascist-inspired faction of the Metro. Here he discovers the spider webs and burns them with a lighter.
From here, it's a case of either sneaking carefully past the guards, unscrewing light bulbs and shooting wood out from fires then firing at the cauldron above it, tipping water down onto the embers and putting them out, or going for it all guns blazing. The guy playing for us showed both methods, the stealthy option seemingly fitting the situation better.
The whole idea of dousing the embers with the cauldron's water was fantastic, showing a level of imagination above that of most shooters. It also seems like stealth is the more sensible option because of the utter blackness of most of the game.
When he opens fire and all hell breaks loose, it doesn't seem quite as interesting to watch, but that's perhaps because your reporter is more naturally inclined to sneaky behaviour than balls out tomfoolery.
So, Metro: Last Light has all the hallmarks of its predecessors, but promises to improve where before it was weak. These are just words for now and until we get a proper go on it, the evidence of our eyes-on will have to suffice. It was a positive ogling, though. The graphics were just stupendous and there are definite signs things will have changed for the better in the gameplay department. Other than that, all we can say is that those damn spiders scare the shite out of us.