|System: PC, PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Zombie Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 7, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
Its no secret that multiplayer first-person shooters (FPS), when done right, sell lots of copies. The Halo and Call of Duty franchises both broke sales records in the last few years. These blockbuster games included good single-player campaigns, of course, but the real draw was the ability to take on friends and strangers. It seems that a certain subset of gamers just cant get enough of shooting each other in the head.
However, its also no secret that the FPS market is very, very crowded, and has been since the torrent of Doom clones that were unleashed in 1993. We have calculated there to be roughly 2.3 kajillion PC games on the Xbox 360 alone in which you can pierce your friends bodies with bullets. (The math was rough, but we care enough about you, dear reader, to take the time to ensure accuracy.) So why would you drop $15 on Blacklight: Tango Down, which doesnt even include much of a campaign? Is its multiplayer really that compelling?
In many ways, the game is indeed quite good. Save for a few weak textures, the Unreal Engine graphics wouldnt be out of place in a full-price retail game, bringing out the look and feel of a hot, war-torn region. (Theres a story behind that somewhere, but absolutely no emphasis is given to it.) The controls are intuitive for anyone whos played a modern FPS before, and the audio, from the exciting music to the sound of guns firing, is excellent. Also, theres a gameplay innovation: You can switch into HRV (Hyper Reality Visor) mode, in which you can see where all your enemies are hiding. However, you cant shoot while in this mode, and it takes some time to recharge. The best strategy is to use it often, but not so much that you spend too much time being vulnerable and unarmed. The HRV also helps enemy players find each other more quickly, cutting down on the time you spend randomly searching for people to kill.
However, there are two serious problems here: One, aside from the HRV, theres nothing here that hasnt been done before, and two, theres a lot here that was done poorly.
In terms of gameplay, this is basically just a mash-up of various other FPS games. Youve got the exaggerated jumping (hello, bunny-hopping!), overpowered melee blows, and instant-grenade button from Halo. Youve got the realistic look and the low health of Call of Duty, though, for some reason, what little health you have doesnt regenerate unless you find a health station. The twelve maps are fine, with lots of places to take cover or snipe, but they hardly stand out from all the other maps in all the other FPSs today. Even the futuristic optical grenades are just smoke grenades that look different when they explode. Basically, theres a lot of déjà vu here: spawn, kill, die, repeat.
The modes dont impress either. Theres deathmatch and team deathmatch (with and without respawning), a game that involves finding a bomb and blowing up the enemys base (Detonation), a variation on capture-the-flag (Retrieval), and a game in which your team has to hold onto territory (Domination). These are all fine (though the no-respawning modes are over too quickly), but theres nothing to set Blacklight apart from every other FPS on the market. Didnt most of these modes become standard ten years or so ago?