When Metro 2033 landed on consoles in 2010 it was a fairly divisive experience. Some of us here at GamingExcellence loved the heck out of it while others really didn't care much for the game. This was pretty easily represented in the gaming community at large with some being more enamored with the setting and experience enough that they got over some of the... quirks found in the gameplay. If you couldn't get over the gameplay issues then you probably weren't all that interested that a sequel was even in the works.
With all that said it's no surprise that going into E3 there was a group of people who either couldn't wait to play this, me included, or those who didn't even have the game on their radar. But it's not how you start, its how you finish and Metro is going to finish incredibly strong based on what they were showing. When the guy showing the game tells you that "I want you to enjoy this but really, I just want this to creep you the *&%$ out" you know something special is about to happen. And holy hell did it. When they stated that the Polish developers love to mix sci-fi elements with mysticism and demons they weren't kidding.
The first thing that needs to be said is that right off the bat this game looks much, much more polished than the first one did. Graphically this game is just absolutely beautiful especially as it's still just in the alpha stage. There were some hitches in the experience but overall the animations, gunplay and action just seemed to run incredibly well.
To make things more interesting than the first the game world has been made much more immersive. The backgrounds, rather than just being painted on like they would in some games they have been fully rendered, even the places you won't explore during the game. Dynamic weather patterns also move through the game world, potentially dropping radioactive rain on top of you at the worst of moments. Rain, mud and blood can obscure your vision, requiring that you clean the visor of your gas mask when above ground. It all adds together to create a more immersive experience.
Also enhancing the game is a very noticeable increase in the survival horror elements of this sequel. As the demo ran there were numerous incredibly creepy moments. In the flickering lights you could see shadows of men, women and children showing up on the walls. It literally felt like there were dozens of people in the room all staring at Artyom and his companion as they explored. From there Artyom encountered a large mutant dog that looked like a much more impressively rendered Watcher. As it jumped atop Artyom you could see the individual hairs on the beast before a shotgun blast covered Artyom, and his mask, with gore. With a quick wipe away of this the hero headed on his way.
But this is where it got really... "interesting" to watch. Artyom and his companion reach a fallen airplane and decided to take a shortcut through it to reach the Metro stations. As they explore the wreck they are bombarded by visions of the people cringing in fear and screaming as their plane crashed. Reaching the cockpit they got to see an actual full motion vision of the pilots actually seeing Moscow burning thanks to the bombs that tore apart the surface. The whole thing was just really haunting and quite visceral. Even the running gunfight with a horde of those Watcher looking creatures that followed didn't even come close to carrying the same terror as hearing the screams of children aboard that plane.
The gunplay in Metro Last Light looks to be improved but at this point that is basically the icing on the cake. While there has been a severe lack of information as to what direction the game will take, especially with Artyom having canonically nuked the Dark Ones at the end of Metro 2033, the game seems to be shaping up rather impressively. It's expected to be released in the first quarter of 2013 and I'll be there to buy it with gas mask on.