Metro: Last Light Low End Performance and Tweak Guide

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The sequel to Metro: 2033, Metro: Last Light continues the story in the personality of Artyom once more. Using the built-in heavily modified 4A Engine, the developer was able to render breathtaking visuals and include additional in-game enhancements like Nvidia Physx and Supersampling Anti-aliasing. But with these visual enhancements, does this mean a higher system is required? Metro: 2033 offered great visuals at its time but cripples almost every system. We are hopeful that Last Light is now optimized and scales down to low-end systems. We will see.

TEST SYSTEM AND MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

 Test SystemMetro: Last Light Minimum
ProcessorIntel Celeron G550 2.6 GHz Dual-core2.2 GHz dual-core
Memory4GB DDR3 1600MHz2GB
Video CardAMD Radeon HD 7750 1GB DDR5,  nVidia GeForce 9600GT 512MB DDR3AMD HD Radeon 4000 Series, nVidia GTS 250
Driver / Patch versionAMD Catalyst 13.5 Beta 2, nVidia Forceware 320.491.0.0.3
Operating System / DirectXWindows 8 64-bit,  Windows 7 SP1 64-bit / DX 11Windows XP 32-Bit DirectX 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our test system is slightly higher than the minimum requirements, but we will also test the game with Geforce 9600GT which is way lower than the required GTS 250, to see how the game will perform on lower systems.

METHODOLOGY 

All tests were done with the following components and settings

  • Intel Celeron G550 2.6 GHz Dual-core
  • 4GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • AMD Radeon HD 7750 1GB DDR5
  • Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
  • Fraps 3.5.9 for recording average and minimum frames per second.

BUILT-IN BENCHMARKING TOOL vs ACTUAL GAMEPLAY

The game came with a benchmarking tool located at the game’s installation folder. The benchmarking tool is a fly-over type where the camera is hovering around the scene with intense gunfights and explosion. I imitated the benchmarking scene to find out if it truly represents the game’s performance. The benchmarking scene is 120 seconds long at the D6 level.

 

The benchmarking tool is too demanding with only 20 fps while the actual gameplay displayed better performance with 25 fps. With this big gap in results, I decided to use the actual gameplay as benchmarking scene for the rest of the tests.

UPDATED GAME PERFORMANCE

There were reports that game has some bugs, frequent crashes, and perform too slow especially on AMD cards. Then 4A Games released a couple of patches to resolve these issues.

updated-perf

I was greatly impressed when I played and see the result of updating the game. The performance is doubled from 25fps to 50fps, so if you are experiencing slowdowns during the game I strongly recommend you update the game.

IMAGE COMPARISON

Quality

Quality - Low
Quality - Normal
Quality - High
Quality - Very High

The “Quality” setting is actually the combination of several settings. This setting affect the quality of almost everything in the game –occlusion, shadows, lighting, texturing, geometry, and others. There are visual changes between Low and Normal but no performance impact. High is still playable and Very High quality is slower but tolerable with 42fps on the average and 27fps minimum.

Supersampling Anti-Aliasing

Anti-Aliasing - Off
Anti-Aliasing - 2x
Anti-Aliasing - 3x
Anti-Aliasing - 4x
Anti-Aliasing - 0.5x

Anti-aliasing improves the quality of edges. In our screenshot, the fence and the rails on the train looked smoother and smoother with higher anti-aliasing value. However, higher anti-aliasing value will result to slower performance, even at 0.5x. I recommend 2x value since it improved the image quality while the performance is not greatly diminished.

Texture Filtering

Texture Filtering - 4x
Texture Filtering - 16x

There is no visible enhancement between 4x and 16x.  The performance is also unaffected.

Motion Blur

Blur - Low
Blur - Normal

Motion blur setting is also affected by the quality setting. When quality is set to low or normal, motion blur has no effect whether you set it to low or normal. You will start seeing blurring effect when you set the quality to high or very high. But then, low and normal motion blur still look very similar, and the performance is unaffected.

Tessellation

Tessellation - Off
Tessellation - Normal
Tessellation - High
Tessellation - Very High

Tessellation makes the sandbags more round and adds more detail to ground rocks. Steel bars on the left side are slightly affected. The performances across tessellation level is minimal on the average fps, but the minimum fps is greatly diminished by up to 9 to 10 fps. This makes the gameplay less smooth – and expect slowdowns in highly tessellated areas.

Advanced Physx

 

Physx adds permanent debris, explosion and smoke effects, but notice the cloth is not affected by gunshots. I can’t recommend to turn this “On” on lower-end budget systems as the performance will be greatly decreased to an unplayable level. 4A Games recommends Geforce GTX cards if you want to turn on the Physx.

Preset

4A Games didn’t put preset settings to set the values automatically for every single settings. I decided to make my own presets. The custom preset is based on the recommendations for individual setting.

 LowHighMaximumCustom
QualityLowVery HighVery HighHigh
SSAAOffOff4xOff
Texture Filtering4x16x16x16x
Motion BlurLowNormalNormalOff
TessellationOffVery HighVery HighNormal
Advanced PhysxOffOffOffOff

 

Preset - Low
Preset - High
Preset - Maximum
Preset - Custom

 

Our custom preset stands between low and high, with better texture, shadows, and lighting. We start seeing occlusions on high preset. Maximum preset has smoother edges due to the applied SSAA. Both and our custom presets are playable while the high preset is slower but tolerable with an average of 35 and 25fps minimum. Playing at Maximum preset is too demanding for our system with only 11fps average and 8fps minimum.

TWEAKING

Field of View

The field of view can only be changed in “user.cfg” file found in “%LOCALAPPDATA%\4A Games\Metro LL\” (C:\Users\PCNAME\AppData\Local\4A Games\Metro LL) after updating the game. Look for “r_base_fov” to change the value. The default FOV value is 50.625. I tried lower value and higher than 89 but it sets back to the default.
 

FOV - 50
FOV - 68
FOV - 85

Setting a higher field of view value, the view becomes wider and the objects in front look farther. The performance is slightly affected by this setting and you can set this according to your preference.

DirectX Mode

You can also change the Direct X mode in “user.cfg”. Look for the “r_api” and set it to “0” for DirectX 9, “1” for DirectX 10, and “2” for DirectX 11. You won’t have access to tessellation when you set it to DirectX 9 and 10.
 

DX 9
DX 10
DX 11

There is no visible change between modes but switching to DirectX 9 the performance will be greatly diminished. DirectX 10 and 11 perform just fine.

Skip Intro Videos

This is a non-performance tweak, but in case you don’t want to wait by watching the videos, here is the trick. Go to “steam\steamapps\common\Metro Last Light\” or to the installation folder, look for “legal.ogv” and rename it to “legal.ogv.bak”.

VIDEO CARD PERFORMANCE

Quality - Low
Quality - Normal
Quality - High
Quality - Very High

Having 512MB of video memory is enough for all levels of quality (low, normal, high, very high). Low and normal quality will utilize the GPU from moderate to high while high and very high quality will definitely use all the processing power of the GPU.

9600GT is playable on low and normal quality with 48 and 45fps. With high quality, the performance dropped to 25 and much lower on very high with 15fps. The HD 7750 is slightly affected only dropping from 50fps to 42fps at very high quality.

When playing on low and normal with 9600GT, circular patterns appear and there are visible tearing on some animation. These distortions are removed when played on high and very high, but the performance will be diminished so much so you’ll likely have to deal with these distortions if you want to have a playable experience with 9600GT.
 

CPU PERFORMANCE

Dual-Core - 1.6 GHz
Dual-Core - 2.1 GHz
Dual-Core - 2.6 GHz
Single-Core - 2.6 GHz

The game uses the two available cores at roughly 90-95%, it doesn’t matter if it is clocked at 2.6, 2.1, or 1.6 GHz. Using a single core the usage goes up to 95-100%.

The minimum CPU requirement is 2.2GHz dual-core processor but a slightly lower clocked 2.1 GHz processor is still capable of delivering playable frame per second with 42fps average and 29fps minimum. Though the 1.6 GHz offered an average of 39fps, the minimum is too low with only 8fps, enough to feel the slowdowns throughout the game and expect worse experience in single-core processors even clocked with higher frequency.

MEMORY PERFORMANCE


The minimum requirement is 2GB, which is enough to have a playable experience. Having 4GB of memory doesn’t change the result but having 6GB improved the result adding 3fps on the average and 1fps to the minimum.

WINDOWS 8 PERFORMANCE

os-performance

This game performed better in Windows 7 than in Windows 8 but the gap is too low to feel much difference.

SUMMARY

I am glad to see that the 9600GT can still perform fairly with normal quality in this visually stunning game while the HD 7750 performed far better even with very high quality, but turning all settings on gives the card a tough challenge. Luckily our custom preset gave us a playable result without losing much visual qualities. The Celeron, maybe the cheapest dual-core around, also put a nice performance at 2.6 GHz – that means dual-core CPUs are still capable of gaming.  We didn’t squeezed much fps on tweaking, but updating the game doubled the performance, from 25fps to 50fps – I’ve never seen anything such improvement before. I hope that current games can and will do the same. But I still have one question left – haven’t the developers tested their game with wide range of video cards before releasing the game?

Video Update – Developer Pack

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