Metro: Last Light ReviewGuest_Jim_* -
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Metro: Last Light - Graphics (cont.):
Now we get to the part of this section most of you are actually going to be interested in; how it performed for me. First up, my specs:
- Processor: AMD Phenom II 720 BE, 4-core, @3.40 GHz (17.0x200)
- Cooling: Corsair H50 with push-pull Akasa 120mm fans
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO 785G
- Memory: Corsair Dominator 2x2 GB and G.Skill Ripjaws 2x4 GB (12 GB total) @ 1600MHz 9-10-9-28
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB (825/1650/1950)
- PhysX: MSI GTS 250 1 GB (621/1890/1000)
- Hard Drive: 1 x Western Digital Caviar Black 750 GB SATA
- Power Supply: Corsair 750TX
- OS: Windows 7- Home Premium 64-bit
For the majority of the game, I played at my monitor's native resolution of 2048x1152, Very High Quality, SSAA set to High, AF 16x texture filtering, Low motion blurring (personal choice), Normal tessellation, V-sync enabled, and Advanced PhysX enabled (PhysX is not listed on the graphics page but under Game Options.) For the most part my experience was pretty good with a framerate I would estimate between 40 FPS and the middle 50s. Sometimes the framerate would drop at particularly intense moments, but these drops never disrupted my gameplay; it just made it less visually amazing. There was one level, though that had especially poor performance. This level involved a lot of fire, as a colony was being razed around you, but I cannot be certain if that explains the loss. In response I turned off tessellation and PhysX. The tessellation setting changed during the same gameplay session while PhysX required restarting the game. I decided to just beat the level instead of taking the time to restart the game, but it did end up restarting later. Before I explain that I am going to discuss PhysX.
PhysX is eyecandy and thus unnecessary, but if you can run it, you want to run it. In Last Light it was used for many things, including glass bottles that would roll around on the ground and shatter if kicked or stepped on, and fabric curtains that will flap as you walk through them. There are also some parts of the environment that will fall apart as they are shot with bullets. While most, if not all, of these elements were rendered with PhysX, some, such as parts of the destructible environment elements, were rendered via software with the CPU. That means that if you have NVIDIA GPUs capable of running PhysX or not, you will get some of the eyecandy. With the appropriate hardware and Advanced PhysX enabled, you get a lot more of it, though it can be at a price. This game and one other (Batman: Arkham City) actually use so many PhysX elements in some places that my PhysX-dedicated GTS 250 cannot keep up, causing the game to slow down. That is the price you pay for eyecandy though.
I said earlier that I did not take the time to restart the game to disable the Advanced PhysX, but it did end up restarting later. As some of you may have guessed, that means the game crashed for me. In total there were nine crashes while I was playing the game, though the two that were BSODs I am not willing to connect to Last Light. The other seven, however, are either because of the game or the drivers. I was using the latest NVIDIA beta drivers, which have been optimized for this game, supposedly. While these seven crashes occurred at different times, they were effectively identical as the screen either went black before returning me to the desktop (Last Light still running in the taskbar) or in one case just froze, forcing me to use the power button to exit it. My impression of these crashes is that they were caused by the drivers, which may be unstable, or the interaction between the game and the drivers. Either way, I would expect a game patch or newer drivers to fix them.
There were also some minor graphics glitches, such as one person taking a drink from his hand, instead of his cup; a person standing in their bed instead of in front of it; and one that gave me the next image. My guess is that I killed the enemy as it started an animation, which led its body to be stuck in the final position for the animation.
Part of the reason Metro 2033 was so well received was how well it immersed its players into the game world. While high quality graphics are definitely an important criterion for immersion, audio is equally important, if not the most important element for achieving immersion, and the developers of Last Light certainly appreciate that. The music very often features guitars, which are a common instrument in post-apocalyptic Moscow, and smoothly flows from one rhythm to another as the situation becomes more or less dire. Walking down a tunnel towards your next goal is not particularly thrilling, but if you turn off of the tracks and into an area infested with what appear to be giant, mutated insects, you can hear the difference as webs break beneath your feet.
Overall, the soundtrack is extremely fitting for the game, but sadly is not going to be released for a month.