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

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 like Khan.
We are meeting some old acquaintances such as Khan.
Metro has always relied on its intense atmosphere.
Metro has always relied on its dense 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 gruesome at times.
The mood gets almost horror-y 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 stealth.
Disabling the power supply helps with a stealthy approach.
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

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 GeForce GTX 880M SLI
112.8
107.6
90.2
61.8
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
104.4
79.3
53.7
 3AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
97.4
91.9
80.3
52.6
 4AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
98.952
82.12
53.12
 8AMD Radeon R9 280X
132.1
129.3
94.2
53.9
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
119.1
114.8
90.1
49.8
 10AMD Radeon HD 7970
115.1
110
77.4
46.6
 13NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
102.32
93.852
75.552
42.52
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
122.3
110
72.1
41.1
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
101.452
95.22
66.754
375
 17NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
91
60
33
 20AMD Radeon R9 M290X
84
77.4
60
33.1
 21AMD Radeon HD 8970M
93.9
86.3
43.052
27.52
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
94.8
85.9
61.4
34.4
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
102.3
87.8
54.5
30.5
 27NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
90.3
76.2
522
33.72
 29AMD Radeon HD 7970M
74.7
65.2
51.7
31
 31NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
95.32
88.62
553
28.43
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
933
74.354
425
235
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 36NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
56.1
53.9
40.7
21.5
 39NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
57.6
37.5
24.7
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
87.6
72.5
41.9
22.7
 45NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
55.2
37.3
23.9
 50NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
69.95
56.958
34.49
18.258
 56NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
87.5
71.7
38.1
20.7
 59AMD Radeon HD 7770
94.1
71.2
35.9
18.8
 67NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
78
17
 69NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
71.9
57.6
34.3
18.3
 71NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
63
49.33
30.33
 72NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
80.1
63.1
32.3
17.2
 74AMD Radeon HD 8870M
53.4
47.4
30.1
 80NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
51.62
40.152
23.452
11.952
 85*AMD Radeon R7 250
79.3
57.3
30
14.3
 86NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
48
29
15.4
 87NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
62.5
50.2
27.4
14.3
 89AMD Radeon HD 8850M
32.4
29.6
21.5
 91AMD Radeon HD 8790M
56
40
22.7
11.7
 97NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
43.77
33.99
20.39
10.529
 99NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
42.72
37.22
20.72
12
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 100*NVIDIA GeForce 840M
43
36
22
 101NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
44.9
33.9
24.8
12
 102NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
37.9
28.9
17.6
 105AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7850K APU (Kaveri)
41
32
19
9
 106Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
47.1
34.9
17.8
9.6
 107AMD Radeon R7 in A10-7700K APU (Kaveri)
40.4
31.2
18.3
8.9
 109NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
31.814
23.64
14.544
6.05
 114NVIDIA GeForce 825M
33.4
24.5
15
 124AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
24.1
22.1
 125AMD Radeon HD 8750M
38.52
28.252
16.152
7.9
 126NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
29.052
222
15.32
6.6
 129*AMD FirePro M4100
35
8
 135NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
34
28.4
13.8
9.2
 137NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
28.12
19.92
12.8
 140*AMD Radeon HD 8690M
52.3
36
28.6
19.3
 153AMD Radeon HD 8670D
39.2
29.7
14.8
7.6
 174AMD Radeon HD 8570D
33.8
25.6
12.5
6.3
 175AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
26
19.5
 176*AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
15.9
14.1
9.5
5.6
 178AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
23.1
18.9
11.2
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 179AMD Radeon HD 8670M
18.652
11.15
9.3
4.7
 180AMD Radeon HD 7660D
35.2
26.3
13.2
6.8
 198AMD Radeon HD 8650G
15.8
14.3
10
 203NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
28.252
20.62
11.22
5.752
 204AMD Radeon HD 7560D
32.81
24.1
11.3
5.7
 207NVIDIA GeForce 820M
28.5
 208NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
22.1
16.1
 210Intel Iris Graphics 5100
23.5
17.7
9.7
5.1
 214AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
8.7
 216NVIDIA Quadro K610M
21.5
16.1
9.1
4.8
 222Intel HD Graphics 4600
343
23.33
13.23
6.53
 226NVIDIA GeForce 710M
26
 227AMD Radeon HD 7660G
24.9
20.2
9.6
5.1
 230Intel HD Graphics 5000
18.9
13.9
10.4
 246*AMD Radeon HD 8550G
25.8
23.3
 253AMD Radeon HD 7610M
28
19
7
4
 255AMD Radeon HD 8470D
23
18.8
9.2
4.7
 258Intel HD Graphics 4400
12.092
9.182
6.082
 294AMD Radeon HD 7480D
13.2
10
4.8
2.6
 295Intel HD Graphics 4000
21.52
14.52
8.22
4.22
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 297Intel HD Graphics 4200
12.7
9.1
5.3
3
 305AMD Radeon HD 8450G
14.352
16.8
8.6
4.3
 309AMD Radeon HD 8400
12
 321AMD Radeon HD 8330
12.8
3
2.7
 342AMD Radeon HD 7420G
10.3
 364AMD Radeon HD 8280
3.6
 370Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
11.2
 373AMD Radeon HD 8240
6.4
 380Intel HD Graphics 3000
10.92
7.4
 398AMD Radeon HD 8210
4.7
4.5
3
 401Intel HD Graphics 2500
11.07
9.84
9.64
 402Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)
10.52
8.09
4.35
 446Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
5
* Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Metro: Last Light Benchmarked
Author: Florian Glaser, 2013-05-23 (Update: 2013-06- 6)