Metro Last Light is the sequel to one of this generation's hidden gems. The original Metro 2033 was based on Russian author Dimtri Glukhovsky's novel and set in a dark post-apocalyptic Russia where the remnants of humanity survive underground in the wreckage of the Moscow metro system.
Our Metro 2033 review called it "a brilliantly atmospheric shooter with forgivably imperfect gunplay" and despite a few flaws, it drew favourable comparisons as a kind of Russian Half Life.
Now, work on the sequel Metro: Last Light is well underway and with the game set to release on PC, Xbox and for the first time PS3 next March, we caught up with THQ's global head of communications and all around Metro expert, Huw Benyon to hear the very latest on the game.
How has the Metro universe progressed with Last Light? How have things evolved since 2033?
So the game takes place fairly soon after the events of 2033 around a year later. We're following the canon ending of the books so Artyom has destroyed the dark ones, believing them to be a threat to the Metro and living with the consequences of that decision which he has an inkling may have been a mistake.
He's been indoctrinated into the order of rangers who are coveting D6, the missile facility they used to destroy the dark ones and have kind of unwittingly opened Pandora's box and telegraphed to the various warring factions of the Metro that there's this glittering prize, a bunker buried with who knows what technology and weapons, supplies etc. So that's kind of our starting point for Last Light.
How has Artyom evolved as a character and how will he continue to evolve throughout this game?
Well 2033 is a very formative experience for Artyom it's a combination of road trip and coming of age movie. He starts the game as this na´ve young man who's never travelled more than 200 yards from his station city really. He's put into this mission and trusted with this situation by Hunter which is going to send him on this epic trek through the Metro, the likes of which only a handful of people have ever attempted. He's driven by these two very conflicting philosophies, the initial mission that he's given by Hunter, that 'if it's hostile you kill it' an absolutely singular purpose and strength of will, that's the way we deal with our problems.
Then he encounters the philosopher-poet Khan who has a very different view that encourages him to be maybe a little bit more thoughtful, perceptive and not take things entirely at face value. The war and conflict between the two of them are the things that drive Artyom throughout the first game and hopefully gives the player plenty to think about as well.
Dmitri [Glukhovsky - author of Metro 2033] described Artyom from the first game as being like a young American conscript sent to Afghanistan or Vietnam as an 18 or 19 year old with not a huge amount of training and thrown into a horrific situation who comes back scarred and emotionally traumatised by the experience.
His [Artyom's] starting position in Last Light is as a very interesting and complex character.
He has this huge burden of guilt upon him as he considers the ramifications of his actions, at the same time as being feted as a hero by the people of the Metro. His experiences have certainly coloured his outlook and that's a theme that we'll be exploring through Metro Last Light.
The Metro itself is almost like a character in the first game, a very atmospheric setting. What new parts of it will players get to explore?