Metro: Last Light’s Engine Is ‘Future proof’ For Next Gen
Metro: Last Light, like many of the FPSs coming out next year, is pushing the graphical bar, but what can we expect of its engine when the next gen arrives?
Metro: 2033 wasn’t a bad game. It wasn’t a great game either, but it did invite gamers into one of the more interesting settings of the last few years and, for many, this was enough to look past some of the its more awkward elements.
Metro: Last Light, on the other hand, is making big improvements across the board in a bid to build on the original’s better elements, but can it do so and keep some of the 2033′s charm?
Huw Beynon, Head of THQ Global Comms, guides us through the crumbling Moscow metro to shed some light…
X360: Is this an engine that we’ll also see on next-gen machines?
Beynon: We’ve seen all number of reports and speculation on what the next gen kits are like and where it’s going and hints on what processors they’re going to be using and the graphics cards. It seems that top of the line PCs coming out using NVIDEA cards are a good indication of where this stuff is going. We think what we’ve got is fairly future proof.
X360: Last Light looks great on PC, but will it look as good on the 360?
Huw Beynon: So the 4A engine is a cross-platform development framework for multi-core machines [like the 360 and powerful PCs]. It’s exceptionally scalable, which is why we get such a decent performance on a wide range of hardware.
Everything that the engine can do, the dynamic lighting, the destruction, which was certainly a feature of the engine last time but was reserved more for scripted moments, in Last Light we’ve built it into the gameplay.
There’ll be destructible environments, particularly in combat scenarios; all of that is present and correct in the 360 version.
Really, what you get from the PC version is more advanced lighting effects, higher resolution, a smoother frame-rate, but there really isn’t anything specific we can’t make work or engineer in some way on the current generation of consoles. All I would say is go and look at Metro 2033 on 360 to get an idea of the visual fidelity we can get on console.
Last time around, one of the biggest features of the 4A engine was its dynamic lighting. Certainly, the first game’s interiors looked pretty impressive on the 360. There was a mixture of a lot of different lighting types. Candles, paraffin lamps and even the harsh glare of strip lamps. This time around you’ll see dynamic weather, clouds rolling in, lightning effects, and it all translates. It’s going to look really good on consoles.
X360: A lot of people struggled with some of the concepts in 2033, how are you addressing this in the sequel?
Beynon: It’s about educating the player and helping them understand and doing that without just giving them a wall of text. A lot of that is done through narrative-driven tutorials. The first time someone sits down with the game their opening experience for the first few levels is being taught to play in a way that they’re perhaps not quite used to. We do constant usability with people who are not familiar with the game at all.
Some people, when you tell them they’re playing an FPS, will sprint through the level and miss everything and find that they’ve run out of bullets and that can be addressed through good scenario design. How you introduce those concepts to the player, making sure that message is clear.
The concept itself, that bullets are currency, that’s taken from Dimitry’s original novel and his thinking was one bullet is as valuable as a human life. It’s quite a potent metaphor and it was something we really wanted to keep in the game.
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