Notebookcheck

Metro: Last Light Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by A Kammel), 05/23/2013

A thrilling adventure. ’Metro: Last Light’ is the next installment of the Metro franchise that follows in the footsteps of the infamous ‘Metro 2033’ that was well known to push modern gaming hardware to the limit. We will see if the gaming studio ‘4A Games’ has another hit on its hands.

Metro: Last Light Logo

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Description

For the original German review, see here.

Last Light continues the storyline told in its predecessor seamlessly. After the conquest of the missile base D6 and the subsequent proceedings, we are supposed to locate the (allegedly) last survivor of the ominous "Dark Ones". Missile base? "Dark Ones"? Without a fast-paced introductory video describing the preceding events, those who didn't play the first part would not be able to follow the plot.

As the title implies, "Metro" takes place in the tunnels of Moscow's subway system. After a nuclear war that has laid waste to Russia, the remaining humans try to hide underground. This harsh existence without daylight or enough food is made even worse by a number of rivaling factions. Among others, there are fascists ("Reich") and communists ("Reds"), but the subway tunnels are also populated by numerous horribly mutated creatures which are hostile towards the protagonist as well. As in the first part, we slip into the role of the nearly 20-year old Artyom who has to survive in this harsh and hostile environment.

The visual design is reminiscent of "Stalker".
The visual design is reminiscent of "Stalker".
Even the main menu is crafted with passion for detail.
Even the main menu is crafted with passion for detail.
Some levels remind us of "Dishonored".
Some levels remind us of "Dishonored".
We are meeting some old acquaintances such as Khan.
We are meeting some old acquaintances like Khan.
Metro has always relied on its dense atmosphere.
Metro has always relied on its intense atmosphere.
How could a first-person shooter without any weapons exist?
How could a first-person shooter without any weapons exist?

As expected, "Last Light" inherits one of the strengths of its predecessor: The extremely intense atmosphere. Only few first-person shooters manage to create a more immersive experience. Some players may feel reminded of the visual aesthetics of the "Stalker" series - this is no coincidence, since many developers of "Metro 2033" and "Last Light" had been involved with "Stalker" in the past.

How exactly does 4A Games manage to create such a consistent, credible game world where many other studios have failed? On one hand, it's all about excellent technology. Although graphics fetishists might not be too impressed ("Metro 2033" had been almost as visually stunning as "Last Light"), we are. Graphics quality is almost always top-notch (with the exception of facial animations), no matter whether we are looking at the textures, the number of polygons or light, fire, particle and shadow effects. But our favorite was the industry-leading scene lighting which falters neither underground nor on the surface.

Another thing about the atmosphere is the level of details. The (often rather linearly designed) levels drip with smaller and larger objects. The love or obsession for details of the developers is evident at every corner. And even the monsters offer a distinct design language which transcends the usual alien-zombie-terrorist enemies found in other shooters. "Metro: Last Light" does indeed come with a very distinct scenario.

The character textures are very sharp.
The character textures are very sharp.
Facial expressions and animations are the only let-downs at times.
Facial expressions and animations are the only let-downs at times.
The metro is governed by a number of different factions.
The metro is governed by a number of different factions.
For example, the fascists of the "Reich".
For example, the fascists of the "Reich".
The great lighting design is one of the most distinct strengths of the engine.
The great lighting design is one of the most distinct strengths of the engine.
The mood gets almost horror-y at times.
The mood gets almost gruesome at times.

We consider the revised stealth system to be one of the most important improvements of "Last Light". While we weren't able to prevent detection in the first part even if we tried hard (due to shards of glass or tin cans), stealth now works a lot better. This does not only have to do with a revamped artificial intelligence but also with expanded feature and indicator sets.

Thanks to a light meter on our watch and acoustic signals it is much easier than before to estimate Artyom's visibility to his opponents. There are more gameplay options than before: Lamps can be shot out, energy distribution stations can be manipulated and guards can be neutralized from behind or with throwing knives. To be honest, we almost always preferred stealth in "Last Light" to the stealth system used in "Dishonored": With the right strategy, whole levels can be cleared without firing a single shot.

One small disappointment: Dead enemies cannot be carried away, and there are even some AI blackouts. From time to time, AI opponents do not even realize that their colleague is missing or they don't react to a lamp being shot directly next to them. They don't even hear bullets fired with a silencer from a few meters away - this makes using stealth almost too easy at times.

The notepad comes equipped with a compass.
The notepad comes equipped with a compass.
Disabling the power supply helps with a stealthy approach.
Disabling the power supply helps with stealth.
Diary entries increase the immersion factor.
Diary entries increase the immersion factor.
Even with illumination, most areas are rather gloomy.
Even with illumination, most areas are rather gloomy.
Many mutations thrive underground.
Many mutations thrive underground.
The game world is full of intricate details.
The game world is full of intricate details.

Of course, "Last Light" is still a shooter and as such perfectly playable with the classic Rambo approach. The mechanics of the fighting system work rather well, even though we are not fully convinced by the weapon feedback as well as the ambient sounds. Gunfights could feel a little bit more "lush". And it took us some time to grow accustomed to the disconcerting Russian accent which is present in both the English and the German version. Apart from this, we were impressed by the sound, especially by the subtle music and the unsettling background noise which fit perfectly to this scenario.

Despite of all these strengths, "Metro: Last Light" is definitely not a game for everybody. The more quiet parts in between may feel tedious to action purists. Some people might be annoyed by the indirect storytelling elements such as diary entries and NPC dialogs by the wayside - everybody has to work out some of the background for him- or herself. The UI is another topic of dispute. While the well-structured main menu has been crafted with much obsession with the details, the weapon menus feel more like they originate from games consoles.

Sometimes we experience exciting flashbacks.
Sometimes we experience exciting flashbacks.
The effects are well-designed.
The effects are well-designed.
Children, women and pensioners are a minority.
Children, women and pensioners are a minority.
The "Reds" fight for a communist society.
The "Reds" fight for a communist society.
Certain types of ammunition serve as currency.
Certain types of ammunition serve as currency.
Stress relief in a bar after a strenuous mission.
Stress relief in a bar after a strenuous mission.

Benchmark

Like its predecessor, "Metro: Last Light" also includes an integrated benchmark called MetroLLbenchmark which can be found in the Steam directory under SteamApps\common\Metro Last Light. Despite the sequence being rather long (almost three minutes) and despite the missing support for tessellation, we have decided in favor of this automatized performance test.

After successful completion of the benchmark, "Last Light" opens a browser window which presents the minimum, average and maximum image refresh rates. Due to time constraints, we are only running it once for every quality setting. The test scene called D6 is rather demanding with its many characters and (battle) effects, but an average of 35 fps or more should still be reachable. Nonetheless, some of the scenes bring our hardware to its knees.

Graphics options

The following screenshots show the different benchmark settings used in our test runs. Since SSAA is extremely demanding (40 % lower frame rates at 1920 x 1080 pixels and maximum details), we have deactivated this anti-aliasing variant in our tests. AAA and FXAA are supposedly always active, reducing the coarser stair-stepping effects.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

In order to create a level playing field, we have also chosen to deactivate the "Advanced PhysX" simulation in our tests which is capable of increasing graphics quality by adding permanent debris, better fabric, weapon and explosion effects as well as smoke which can be influenced by the player's actions (like in Batman). Still, it is easy to overlook these effects while in the heat of battle.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings
Discussion

Great: All settings can be changed from within the game. Next to the SSAA anti-aliasing feature (0.5-4x) and the PhysX engine, this encompasses the resolution, the overall graphics quality (low, medium, high, very high), the texture filtering (4x or 16x AF), the intensity of motion blur and the degree of tessellation. As a partner of Nvidia's Gaming program "The Way It's Meant to be Played", "Metro: Last Light" has also been optimized for the 3D technology 3D Vision (2).

The player can chooses between different weapons.
The player can chooses between different weapons.
The upgrade menu looks too much like it comes from a console version.
The upgrade menu looks too much like it comes from a console version.
All weapons can be customized to the player's liking.
All weapons can be customized to the player's liking.

Results

Mobile entry-level graphics cards such as the Intel HD Graphics 4000 (the HD Graphics 3000 produces nothing but image errors) don't have it easy with "Last Light". Even with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and all settings on low, the first-person shooter still doesn't run smoothly. For this, at least a lower mid-range graphics card (e.g. the GeForce GT 640M) is required.

Graphics menu in the game.
Graphics menu in the game.
Performance scaling.
Performance scaling.
Benchmark graph.
Benchmark graph.

For normal details and a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, at least an upper mid-range graphics card is needed. It takes a GeForce GT 650M to go beyond 35 fps here. High details and HD or HD+ resolutions (around 1600 x 900) are only possible with fast high-end GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 675MX while maximum details and a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels are impossible even with the fastest notebook GPUs such as the GeForce GTX 680M and the Radeon HD 7970M.

In order to enjoy all eye candy "Metro: Last Light" offers, new generation hardware (which is imminent) is a necessity. Alternatively, a dual GPU or desktop gaming system can be used. Still, not even an overclocked GeForce GTX 660 Ti is sufficient to handle SSAA (25 fps instead of 41 fps @ "Ultra"). The pleasantly short loading times are not enough to compensate for this flaw.

Benchmark results Metro: Last Light

Verdict

Demanding hardware requirements, rewarding gameplay: "Metro: Last Light" continues the tradition of its predecessor. Fans of first-persons shooters and stealth experts with a soft spot for extraordinary world building will feel at home with this game. Hardly any other title is capable of creating such an intense atmosphere while also looking so good. Some minor flaws of the AI and the UI as well as some logic kinks are easy to forget.

From time to time, the player is allowed to venture out to the surface.
From time to time, the player is allowed to venture out to the surface.
The gas mask steams up easily.
The gas mask steams up easily.
Much of the panoramic scenery is every bit as impressive as in Crysis 3.
Much of the panoramic scenery is every bit as impressive as in Crysis 3.

Test systems

We want to thank Schenker Technologies (mysn.de) for the following test devices:

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M(X), GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M, Radeon HD 7970M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000)
  • each with 8 GB DDR3-RAM (2x 4096 MByte @ 1600 MHz), 160 GByte SSD (Intel 320 Series)  & Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit

Utilized GPU drivers: Nvidia 320.14 Beta, AMD 13.5 Beta 2/3 & Intel 9.17.10.3062 bzw. 9.18.10.3071.

from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
 Metro: Last Light (2013)
low
1024x768
Low (DX10)
4xAF
med.
1366x768
Medium (DX10)
4xAF
high
1366x768
High (DX11)
16xAF
ultra
1920x1080
Very High (DX11)
16xAF
 1NVIDIA Titan X Pascal
133
132.2
130.2
116.9
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 SLI (Laptop)
140
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Desktop)
140
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
131.63
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI (Laptop)
155.9
151.2
143.8
111.9
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Desktop)
1232
 8NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
108.654
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
169
165
160
119
 10NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI
153.4
148.7
129.852
96.952
 11AMD Radeon R9 Fury
39
121
121
89
 12AMD Radeon R9 Nano
96
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
146.3
141
129.5
86.43
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 (Laptop)
152.752
149.92
135.83
915
 16AMD Radeon R9 390X
123.4
121.5
119.1
82.7
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
139.7
137
116.352
80.92
 19*NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
116
77.45
 20AMD Radeon RX 480
142
80
 21NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
141.3
138.1
123.9
80.9
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
144.2
143.9
130.9
83.82
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
112.8
107.6
90.2
61.8
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
104.4
79.3
53.7
 27AMD Radeon R9 290X
1212
119.52
1082
77.52
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
85.8
56.9
 30AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
97.4
91.9
80.3
52.6
 31AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
98.952
82.12
53.12
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
130.44
128.74
115.713
66.814
 35NVIDIA Quadro M5000M
140.752
138.152
113.152
63.42
 36AMD Radeon R9 280X
132.1
129.3
94.2
53.9
 37AMD Radeon R9 380
119.9
113.2
104.6
54.9
 38NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
111.2
106.4
95.9
56.8
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
1453
133.14
93.712
52.312
 43NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
95.4
86.5
62
39.3
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
119.1
114.8
90.1
49.8
 45AMD Radeon HD 7970
115.1
110
77.4
46.6
 50AMD Radeon R9 M295X
95.9
86.8
71.2
42.6
 52NVIDIA Quadro M3000M
124.5
82.9
44.6
 53AMD FirePro W7170M
120
112
94
44
 55AMD Radeon R7 370
151.79
136.77
75.32
37.64
 57NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
106.53
97.73
76.65
42.45
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 58NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
131
127.4
87.7
45.7
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
122.3
110
72.1
41.1
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
126.4
112.5
73.5
41.8
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
101.452
95.22
66.754
375
 63NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
91
60
33
 65AMD Radeon RX 460 (Desktop)
78
37.2
 67NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
114.93
112.754
75.24
40.64
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
85.54
81.654
61.45
34.45
 69AMD Radeon R9 M290X
84
77.4
60
33.1
 70AMD Radeon HD 8970M
93.9
86.3
43.052
27.52
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
90.3
76.2
522
33.72
 78NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
102.3
87.8
54.5
30.5
 80AMD FirePro M6100
116
91
49
27
 81AMD Radeon HD 7970M
74.7
65.2
51.7
31
 82*AMD Radeon R9 M390
100
91
67
33.8
 83NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
123.6
103
58.8
30.9
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
94.17
91.3514
58.521
31.221
 89NVIDIA Quadro M2000M
109.852
90.452
54.352
29.42
 91NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
86
73
44
24
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
933
74.354
425
235
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
94.93
88.64
52.58
288
 97NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
57.6
37.5
24.7
 100NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
87.6
72.5
41.9
22.7
 101NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
55.2
37.3
23.9
 103NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
613
67.85
42.15
22.45
 105AMD Radeon R9 M385X
36.9
35.6
34.7
21.7
 106NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
80.554
70.84
43.66
21.856
 107NVIDIA Quadro M1000M
83
49
25
 108AMD Radeon R9 M280X
39.9
35.5
31.8
19
 113NVIDIA GeForce 945M
81.5
66.7
38.6
18.8
 114NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
716
579
34.5810
18.39
 120Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580
63.7
50.8
28.5
14.3
 122NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
87.5
71.7
38.1
20.7
 128AMD Radeon HD 7770
94.1
71.2
35.9
18.8
 136NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
84.452
75.3
40.6
18.952
 138AMD Radeon R9 M370X
82.5
53.8
32.4
16.1
 139NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
71.9
57.6
34.3
18.3
 141NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
63
49.33
30.33
 142AMD Radeon R9 M275
38
29.7
26.3
13.4
 143NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
80.1
63.1
32.3
17.2
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 144NVIDIA Maxwell GPU Surface Book (940M, GDDR5)
59.6
44.7
30.7
15.7
 149AMD Radeon HD 8870M
53.4
47.4
30.1
 154AMD FirePro M5100
85
61
42
19.6
 155NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
51.62
40.152
23.452
11.952
 160AMD Radeon R7 250
79.3
57.3
30
14.3
 161NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
48
29
15.4
 162NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
62.5
50.2
27.4
14.3
 164AMD Radeon HD 8850M
32.052
27.452
20.752
11.9
 166AMD Radeon R9 M265X
52.1
27
13.3
 168AMD Radeon HD 8790M
56
40
22.7
11.7
 169AMD FirePro W4170M
65.8
45.4
23.5
11.3
 175NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
43.838
33.910
20.3510
10.529
 177NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
52.53
39.83
243
11.652
 178NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
44.93
33.93
203
103
 179NVIDIA GeForce 940M
46.42
36.33
22.53
11.052
 181AMD Radeon R9 M375
42
34.8
22.3
 182*NVIDIA GeForce 930MX
50
39
22
11
 184AMD Radeon R7 M370
51.9
38.2
21.8
10.1
 186NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
42.72
37.22
20.72
12
 187NVIDIA Quadro K620M
49
38
23
11
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 188NVIDIA GeForce 840M
42.36
35.456
22.36
11.15
 189AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
32
27.3
20.7
11.7
 190NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
37.9
28.9
17.6
 194AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
41
32
19
9
 195Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
47.1
34.9
17.8
9.6
 196AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
40.4
31.2
18.3
8.9
 197NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
30.625
22.795
155
6.05
 198NVIDIA GeForce 930M
43.32
34.12
20.652
 199*Intel Iris Graphics 550
46.2
392
24.652
12.22
 200NVIDIA GeForce 830M
35.9
29
18.8
 201Intel Iris Graphics 540
423
35.43
224
10.252
 202*Intel HD Graphics 620
31.552
26.12
16.252
7.72
 203*NVIDIA Quadro M500M
48.9
38.3
22.9
11.6
 207NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
28.12
19.92
12.8