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

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
Discussion

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
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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 980M SLI
153.4
148.7
129.852
96.952
 2NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
146.3
141
129.5
80.6
 3NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M SLI
139.7
137
116.352
80.92
 4NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti
141.3
138.1
123.9
80.9
 5NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
144.2
143.9
130.9
77.6
 6NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI
112.8
107.6
90.2
61.8
 7NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
104.4
79.3
53.7
 8AMD Radeon R9 290X
1212
119.52
1082
77.52
 9NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M SLI
85.8
56.9
 10AMD Radeon R9 M290X Crossfire
97.4
91.9
80.3
52.6
 11AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
98.952
82.12
53.12
 14NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M
1192
117.152
108.76
656
 15AMD Radeon R9 280X
132.1
129.3
94.2
53.9
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
111.2
106.4
95.9
56.8
 17NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M
146.252
1403
93.66
51.66
 18NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI
95.4
86.5
62
39.3
 19NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
119.1
114.8
90.1
49.8
 20AMD Radeon HD 7970
115.1
110
77.4
46.6
 22AMD Radeon R9 M295X
95.9
86.8
71.2
42.6
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 25NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
106.53
97.73
76.65
42.45
 26NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950
131
127.4
87.7
45.7
 28NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
122.3
110
72.1
41.1
 29NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
126.4
112.5
73.5
41.8
 30NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
101.452
95.22
66.754
375
 31NVIDIA Quadro K5100M
91
60
33
 34NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
122.4
114.1
74.4
38.7
 35NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M
85.54
81.654
61.45
34.45
 36AMD Radeon R9 M290X
84
77.4
60
33.1
 37AMD Radeon HD 8970M
93.9
86.3
43.052
27.52
 41NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
102.3
87.8
54.5
30.5
 42NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
90.3
76.2
522
33.72
 44AMD FirePro M6100
116
91
49
27
 45AMD Radeon HD 7970M
74.7
65.2
51.7
31
 46NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
123.6
103
58.8
30.9
 50NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
94.446
86.397
55.839
30.39
 52NVIDIA Quadro K4100M
86
73
44
24
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
933
74.354
425
235
 54NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
94.93
88.64
52.58
288
 57NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M SLI
57.6
37.5
24.7
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 60NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
87.6
72.5
41.9
22.7
 61NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
55.2
37.3
23.9
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M
73.252
67.83
42.13
22.43
 63NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
80.554
70.84
43.66
21.856
 64AMD Radeon R9 M280X
39.9
35.5
31.8
19
 69NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
716
579
34.5810
18.39
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
87.5
71.7
38.1
20.7
 80AMD Radeon HD 7770
94.1
71.2
35.9
18.8
 88NVIDIA Quadro K3100M
84.452
75.3
40.6
18.952
 89AMD Radeon R9 M370X
82.5
53.8
32.4
16.1
 90NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
71.9
57.6
34.3
18.3
 92NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
63
49.33
30.33
 93AMD Radeon R9 M275
38
29.7
26.3
13.4
 94NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
80.1
63.1
32.3
17.2
 98AMD Radeon HD 8870M
53.4
47.4
30.1
 103AMD FirePro M5100
85
61
42
19.6
 104NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
51.62
40.152
23.452
11.952
 109AMD Radeon R7 250
79.3
57.3
30
14.3
 110NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M
48
29
15.4
 111NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
62.5
50.2
27.4
14.3
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 113AMD Radeon HD 8850M
32.052
27.452
20.752
11.9
 114AMD Radeon R9 M265X
52.1
27
13.3
 116AMD Radeon HD 8790M
56
40
22.7
11.7
 117AMD FirePro W4170M
65.8
45.4
23.5
11.3
 122NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
43.838
33.910
20.3510
10.529
 124NVIDIA Quadro K1100M
44.93
33.93
203
103
 125NVIDIA GeForce 940M
46.42
36.352
25.22
11.3
 126NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
42.72
37.22
20.72
12
 127NVIDIA Quadro K620M
49
38
23
11
 128NVIDIA GeForce 840M
42.36
35.456
22.36
11.15
 129AMD Radeon R7 M275DX
32
27.3
20.7
11.7
 130AMD Radeon R7 M370
151.79
136.77
75.32
37.64
 131NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
37.9
28.9
17.6
 134AMD Radeon R7 512 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
41
32
19
9
 135Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
47.1
34.9
17.8
9.6
 137AMD Radeon R7 384 Cores (Kaveri Desktop)
40.4
31.2
18.3
8.9
 138NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
30.625
22.795
155
6.05
 139NVIDIA GeForce 930M
43.32
34.12
20.652
 140NVIDIA GeForce 830M
35.9
29
18.8
 144NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
28.12
19.92
12.8
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 146NVIDIA GeForce 825M
33.4
24.5
15
 157AMD Radeon R7 M260X
44.3
28.9
15.5
6.9
 159AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
24.1
22.1
 160NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
29.052
222
15.32
6.6
 163AMD FirePro M4100
35
8
 164AMD Radeon HD 8750M
363
27.83
163
7.9
 167AMD Radeon R7 M265
32.42
24.82
15.852
6.4
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
34
28.4
13.8
9.2
 172AMD Radeon R7 (Kaveri)
29.7
25.1
16.2
8.3
 173AMD Radeon R8 M365DX
25.6
21.7
15.1
8.6
 175AMD Radeon R7 M360
29
22.4
15.7
7.7
 178AMD Radeon HD 8690M
52.3
36
28.6
19.3
 186AMD Radeon R7 M260
24
16
13
6
 187*AMD Radeon R6 (Carrizo)
23.1
17.3
11.1
5.5
 195AMD Radeon HD 8670D
39.2
29.7
14.8
7.6
 199AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
20.5
16.2
10.1
5.1
 217Intel HD Graphics 5600
32.9
24
15.8
7.5
 218AMD Radeon HD 8570D
33.8
25.6
12.5
6.3
 219AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
26
19.5
 220AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
15.9
14.1
9.5
5.6
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 222AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
23.1
18.9
11.2
 223AMD Radeon HD 8670M
18.652
11.15
9.3
4.7
 224AMD Radeon R6 M255DX
19.952
172
12.052
7.8
 225AMD Radeon HD 7660D
35.2
26.3
13.2
6.8
 243AMD Radeon HD 8650G
21.92
18.152
102
5
 248NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
28.252
20.62
11.22
5.752
 249AMD Radeon HD 7560D
32.81
24.1
11.3
5.7
 254AMD Radeon R5 M255
33.1
25.4
15.3
 256NVIDIA GeForce 820M
28.5
 257Intel Iris Graphics 6100
23
18.5
13.3
7
 258NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
22.1
16.1
 262AMD Radeon R5 M230
18.352
14.752
102
4.652
 266AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
8.7
 268Intel HD Graphics 6000
19
15.7
12
6
 269NVIDIA Quadro K610M
21.5
16.1
9.1
4.8
 271Intel Iris Graphics 5100
23.5
17.7
9.7
5.1
 276Intel HD Graphics 4600
343
23.33
13.23
6.53
 278Intel HD Graphics 5500
19.75
11.85
95
55
 279AMD Radeon R5 (Kaveri)
14.9
11.2
6.9
 282NVIDIA GeForce 710M
26
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 283AMD Radeon HD 7660G
24.9
20.2
9.6
5.1
 286Intel HD Graphics 5000
18.852
13.92
9.52
 302AMD Radeon HD 8550G
27.6
20.7
10
5
 310AMD Radeon HD 7610M
28
19
7
4
 312AMD Radeon HD 8470D
23
18.8
9.2
4.7
 316Intel HD Graphics 4400
19.93
13.63
9.93
 345Intel HD Graphics 5300
13.3
10.1
6.1
3.2
 353AMD Radeon HD 7480D
13.2
10
4.8
2.6
 354Intel HD Graphics 4000
21.52
14.52
8.22
4.22
 360AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
14.4
9.3
5.1
2
 361AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
14.2
10.9
6.3
3.2
 362Intel HD Graphics 4200
12.7
9.1
5.3
3
 370AMD Radeon HD 8450G
14.352
16.8
8.6
4.3
 374AMD Radeon HD 8400
12
 386AMD Radeon HD 8330
12.8
3
2.7
 389AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
13.5
10.4
5.8
 410AMD Radeon HD 7420G
10.3
 415Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
11.2
 437AMD Radeon HD 8280
3.6
 446AMD Radeon HD 8240
6.4
Pos      Model                                     Metro: Last Light
lowmed.highultra
 454Intel HD Graphics 3000
10.92
7.4
 472AMD Radeon HD 8210
4.7
4.5
3
 475Intel HD Graphics 2500
11.07
9.84
9.64
 476Intel HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge)