PC Gamer
metro last light

THQ's stock has halved in value after the publisher's Q2 financial report announced a delay to the games arriving early next year. Though the delay shows an investment in the quality of those titles, the plummeting share price could leave the company facing bankruptcy before they reach market.

Needless to say, this would be a tremendous shame, as many of the games on THQ's roster are very well-liked here at PCG. Metro: Last Light and Company of Heroes 2 look particularly promising, and later releases, like Crytek's take on the Homefront licence and a new Saints Row game should do a lot to chivvy up sales - assuming THQ can find the cash to fund their development. Then there's Darksiders - which I rather enjoyed despite its weak-sauce PC porting - but the last game hasn't made its money back, despite 1.4 million sales.

As such THQ faces a tough call: gamble money it doesn't have to fund and polish its forthcoming projects or jeopardise the quality of its titles and face diminishing returns. There are other options of course, though not especially welcome ones: a mergers and acquisitions consultant has apparently been hired, presumably to look at the possibility of a buy-out.

If THQ can last out a little longer, then the sales of Metro: Last Light and Company of Heroes 2 may well make or break the company. If you're looking forward to those games, it might be worth considering this fact should you find yourself with pre-order-shaped wad of cash come Christmas-time.
PC Gamer

In its second quarter financials report, THQ has delayed three of its biggest 2013 titles, with one pushed back as far as 2014.

The Obsidian-developed South Park: The Stick of Truth has been delayed a whole year, with its initial March 2013 release scrapped, and an early 2014 release scheduled.

Meanwhile, Company of Heroes 2 and Metro: Last Light have been rescheduled from a January 2013 release to a March street date.

Recently appointed THQ president Jason Rubin - he of Naughty Dog and Crash Bandicoot fame - said the delays were made to ensure quality. "Our fourth quarter releases are the first titles that I have had the ability to materially impact, and experience told me that games needed addition development time to be market-ready," Rubin said.

He continued:

"I believe South Park's market opportunity is significant. It is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated titles of calendar 2013. It is also an expansive title, encompassing multiple television seasons' worth of content. We have been working closely with the co-creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, to make sure all of the game's content performs to the high standards of the TV show, and this takes time. THQ is committed to giving gamers no less than the rich South Park game they have been waiting for and deserve.

"We are also inspired by the potential for Metro: Last Light and Company of Heroes 2. I believe Metro: Last Light is a title that should set standards for visuals with its stunning atmosphere, unique location and cutting-edge style. Company of Heroes was one of the highest rated RTS titles in history, and Relic insists that the sequel live up to its pedigree. Giving both of these titles time to reach their full potential is the right thing to do for the products.

"THQ is excited about our position and pipeline of games beyond fiscal 2013, including the sequel for Saints Row: The Third, Homefront 2 and the as-yet-unannounced game from Turtle Rock Studios. In total we have ten titles in development for fiscal 2014 and later, almost all of which are based on our own IP. We intend to announce more details about our future slate in the coming months.

"I firmly believe releasing our fourth quarter titles without extra time for polish in the current environment would lead to underperformance that could in turn lead to future additional capital shortfalls. But extending development schedules in order to make the best possible titles also has financial implications. Yet there can be no doubt which path has the greatest chance of leading to the long-term success of the company. We must follow the course that generates the highest quality games, and will establish THQ as a mark of quality for the consumer."

The full financial report is here.
PC Gamer

Last week, 4A Games announced that after working on "a number of multiplayer prototypes" for Metro: Last Light, it has decided to move the multiplayer team back onto single-player development. As a result, Metro: Last Light will not launch with a multiplayer component, though the developer isn't ruling out the possibility it will happen post-release.

"Right now we’re 100% focused on the single player campaign and not thinking beyond that," reads the post. "We don’t like throwing away work though, it’s a project we could potentially return to after Metro: Last Light ships."

Regarding the change of heart, 4A admits: "In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to announce it when we did, but we’re an enthusiastic team and wanted to be open about what we were making!"
PC Gamer
Metro Last Light preview

This article first appeared in issue 242 of PC Gamer UK. Written by Matt Lees.

No one expects Russian mutants to be gorgeous all the time, but it’s nice to see them make an effort now and then. Ukrainian developers 4A Games seem well aware of Metro 2033’s shortcomings, and first on the list is getting things dolled up. Skulking through the underground tunnels shows off the improvements to a degree, but it’s the outside world that impresses the most.

As the smoggy black ash clouds begin to clear from the city, the next stages of nuclear fallout kick in. Thick-cut lightning appears intent on cutting the sky in two as rain starts to fall, obscuring the main character Artyom’s visor.

As Artyom pushes through crunched-concrete streets, his travelling companion tells him to keep his head down. Around fifty mutated rat-like creatures bound across the crumbled vista ahead, appearing equally shaken-up by the storms. Metro: Last Light’s flair for cinematic moments scoffs at the efforts of the slightly wonky Metro 2033, but this upgrade comes with a shift in tone that won’t please everyone.

The regular presence of a follow-me-buddy and an emphasis on building drama through scripted moments reminds me an awful lot of games like Call of Duty. If you were holding out for something more like Stalker, switch your eyebrows into frownmode now.

One of the first scripted moments I spot makes me jump: a giant, horrible rat-like thing leaps out of the shadows, showing a mouth full of sharp teeth that hint towards sour intentions. Pinned to the ground and away from his buddy, Artyom forces the barrel of his shotgun beneath what appears to be the beast’s chin, relocating key parts of its brain into a brand new drippy red spot on the ceiling. I’m happy to invite more moments like this, but other scripted sections don’t nail the tone.

A supernatural sequence on a wrecked airplane had great intentions, but fell a bit flat. Flashing images of the plane’s passengers just before the crash felt like home-brand horror, and a longer sequence showing the reactions of the pilots as they flew towards a freshly-grown mushroom cloud somehow misspells shock as schlock. It reminded me of the iconic nuke scene from Call of Duty 4, but the comparison wasn’t wholly kind.

The depictions of pre-disaster civilians in the game feel wooden when compared with excellently silly antics with neo-Nazis and monsters. Hopefully these sequences won’t take the limelight.

I’ll need to withhold judgement until I get a chance to play the game for myself, but THQ’s Huw Beynon insists that the mainstream-facing stuff won’t detract from what made the last game fantastic: “Dumbing down is when you strip all of that stuff out and say ‘let’s keep it simple’,” explains Beynon. “What we want to do instead is to introduce these mechanics better, and weave them into the narrative more… let players get comfortable with ideas one at a time, and they’ll gradually realise a wealth of new options.”

If linear jollies aren’t a total turn-off, this one still looks set to be a treat. Most of Metro 2033’s esoteric features will also play a part in Last Light, which means winding up an electric torch, frantically hunting down fresh oxygen canisters and manually wiping your mask’s visor clean. An excess build-up of water, blood, or indeterminate mutant-juice can severely damage your ability to shoot things.

And trust me, you’re going to want to shoot things. Using bullets to kill things in the last game felt a bit like to trying to knock someone out with half a Battenberg. It’s a criticism the developers have taken note of, and the gunplay this time around seems more substantial. One fight sees Artyom squaring up against a giant bat-bastard, which insists on grabbing him with both claws before dropping him again from an unhealthy height.

A few high-calibre rifle rounds make light work of the beast, putting an end to the encounter. The raucous exchange attracts even more attention, though, forcing Artyom and pals to make a dash for the subway.

Making a last stand at the bottom of the escalator, both rangers run out of Molotov cocktails as giant rat-creatures continue to arrive. A chunky sub-machinegun chews through the mutants, but looks set to be useless once the ammo runs out. An incendiary-flavoured rescue arrives just as things are looking truly desperate, and two flamethrower-wielding rangers open the doors to give the vile creatures a blast.

Last Light’s blasted, wrecked world looks surprisingly beautiful, and I’m fascinated to see just how well it handles. I’m also faintly worried that 4A Games might have fluffed up the balance between freedom and scripting, but Beynon is making reassuring noises that it’ll be something more than a corridor shooter with added radiation. “People like complexity, and gamers aren’t stupid,” he says.

Last Light could shape up to be the sexiest apocalypse in 2013.
PC Gamer
Metro Last Light sunlight
Wow, a ray of sunshine! There's more cheer in that beam than you'll find in Metro: Last Light precursor, Metro 2033. The first game did bleak underground tunnels better than almost any other. The underground towns inhabited by survivors of the mutant apocalypse were especially memorable, packed full of characters and incidental detail. Weapon sellers haggled with mercenaries, old ladies cooed at each other in corners, burly blokes guffawed over baked bean tins of vodka and every so often you'd come across someone who'd seen the surface and returned alive. They'd stand still and stare into middle distance looking sadder than a badger in a washing machine.

The sequel looks as though it'll bring similar levels of detail to its outdoor environments, get a good look at them in these new screenshots. Click to see them full size.

PC Gamer
Metro Last Light
Some very, very dark screenshots of Metro: Last Light have emerged from the Tokyo Game Show, showing off the muscle of 4A Games' increasingly impressive engine. It's perfectly suited to rendering close, dark environments, but will it be able to improve on the narrow turkey shoots of the first game? And will it have the same extraordinary hub areas that let you slum around trashcan fires with fellow survivors, sipping vodka and telling stories about how grand life was before the monsters turned up? We'll find out when Last Light sees the light of day in the summer of 2012. Click ont he screens below to see them full size.

PC Gamer

The third part of the E3 demonstration of Metro: Last Light has finally arrived. You wouldn't have throught that a narrow, dark tunnel would be the best way to show off a graphics engine, but the footage of the player moving down the sparking train is spectacular. Here's part one of the demo, and here's part two. Metro: Last Light is due out next year.
PC Gamer

The latest Metro: Last Light trailer forms up the second part of the three part E3 demo. Having infiltrated the tunnels of the Reich, the player tries to sneak through a whole room of chanting fascists before his companion decides he's had enough of walking quietly and fires his pistol in the air like a madman, alerting the mob and kicking off an arbitrary but otherwise intense chase through the labyrinthine underground. Metro: Last Light is out next year. Check out our preview for more.
PC Gamer

THQ have released the first segment of their E3 demo trailer for Metro: Last Light. Starting out with some stealth work from the shadows, the action takes a turn for the more mental when our subway-dwelling hero gets his hands on a mini-gun.

Last Light follows on from its predecessor Metro 2033, with players taking on the role of protagonist Artyom once more as they battle their way through the irradiated landscapes of a dystopian Russia. Last Light is due for release next year.
PC Gamer
It was something straight out of a themepark. Shuffling into a roped-off area, a few journalists and I took a seat in a darkly-lit mock subway car. The audience was cracking jokes with each other, teasing their companions to cover their eyes if they got frightened in the pitch-black, bass-heavy room. We were all expecting to be scared (to some degree) by Metro: Last Light. Instead, the gameplay demo on display simply astounded us.

You return to the post-apocalyptic Russia overrun by mutants as Metro 2033's protagonist Artyom--but right now, the gruesome monsters running amok are the least of his worries. Civil war is breaking out amongst the remaining underground population, and the already-struggling society is at the brink of self-destruction. It's up to Artyom to take action and prevent the only humans left from wiping each other out.

Now that we'd been brought up to speed on the story, it was straight on to the action. Ducking down from the winged-mutant infested ground level, Artyom carefully descended into a sewer on a stealth mission. His comrade advises him to get rid of any and every light source, and it becomes clearer as the demo progresses that Last Light is the perfect subtitle to this gorgeous-looking sequel. As the player slinked around an encampment crawling with guards, he took every precaution to rid himself of any light source. Lightbulbs were unscrewed, fluorescents were shot out--he even put out a fire by shooting the water-filled pot above it, dousing the light source that threatened to reveal him.

The darkness lends itself to the most satisfying of stealth kills: the ol' sneak-up-and-knife-you-in-the-neck. After taking out a hefty enemy, the player picked up a hulking minigun and shocked the audience with an unexpected feature: destructible environments. While ducking behind the cover of a concrete wall, the player lined up a shot where he knew the enemy would be. Revving up his minigun, he unloaded an entire clip, shredding the concrete wall and his enemy to pieces, and exposing the rebar within. If the amazing graphics and life-like lighting hadn't already convinced us of the game's realism, we were certainly sold on it now.

In the next segment, shown briefly in a previous-released trailer, Artyom was following Khan, a grey-haired, ponytailed leader, as they made their way through a chanting crowd who were raising their fists in a gesture disturbingly close to "Sig Heil." At Khan's signal, the speaker addressing the crowd was attacked, and all hell broke loose. With civilians screaming and running in every direction, Artyom and his accomplish made tracks through a busy underground village. The chase sequence has to be seen to be believed--I felt like I was living out the intense scenes of a Bourne-style action movie, and I wasn't even the one playing. Just as it seemed like they were getting away clean, Artyom took a nasty shot to the shoulder. Thinking quick, the duo climbed into a nearby minecart, kicking off an exhilirating shooter that made every other shooter's "on-rails" sequences look like a joke. Mid-chase, Artyom leapt--yes, leapt--from his rolling minecart onto a train speeding nearby. This kicked off an intense shoot-out of rifles and shotguns versus a small army, as the demo came to a close.

Just as we were all catching our breath, we got a sneak peek at a new mutant type that's sure to make you quiver in your boots. A hairless four-legged monstrosity (resembling the uglies from the first game) burst out of a stone wall, charging headfirst at Artyom with murderous intent. With the force of a bulldozer and the speed of a car, the beast tore up the environment while Artyom unloaded all the ammo he could into the creature's back.

With the game's amazingly detailed textures and graphics, incredible atmosphere, and downright exciting gameplay, it looks like Last Light will help the Metro series finally garner the attention it deserves. Kudos to 4A Games for not missing a beat with the sequel to 2010's biggest unsung hero. Metro: Last Light is slated for release in 2012, and it can't come soon enough.