A retail shooter minus the retail and the single-player mode, Blacklight: Tango Down boasts up solid multiplayer FPS action, but doesn't offer up a lot of innovation or surprises.
- Retail-quality graphics
- Satisfying gunplay
- Lots of gameplay options
- Basic leveling structure
- Many generic elements
- Lack of guidance for customization
There are plenty of gamers out there who just care about multiplayer, and it was with those players in mind that Zombie Studios created Blacklight: Tango Down. Imagine downloading the multiplayer mode of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 directly and you’ll get the idea of what to expect. No single-player mode, no disc, and no $60 price tag. But is it worth paying $15 to go fragfest-only?
Into The Fray
There’s little question that Blacklight: Tango Down offers up a multiplayer gameplay experience that’s on par with many bigger-budget shooters. The guns have a satisfying feel to them, the maps are all well-designed, and there are a bevy of multiplayer modes to choose from. As with most top-tier shooters these days, there’s a ranking system that rewards you with new levels and unlockables as you earn experience points from kills. There aren’t a lot of new ideas on display here, but the ones that Zombie included are winners. The main innovation, the HRV, allows you to see the position of enemies on the map, but you can’t shoot while using it. The HRV discourages camping and is perfect for a quick tactical assessment, but its drawbacks make it difficult to abuse.
The Problems of War
Despite the generally solid gameplay and the unique online-only focus of the game, things are far from perfect with Blacklight: Tango Down. It’s hard not to count the game’s disc-quality graphics as both a plus and a minus. It’s one of the best-looking downloadable games you’ll ever see, but once you consider that it's trying to resemble a game that shooter fans can pick up at the store, you’re inviting comparisons to those games. If you saw a friend playing it without knowing it was downloadable, you’d probably assume it was simply an dated-looking disc-based title. That aforementioned comparison to Modern Warfare 2 only stretches so far.
There are lots of customization options for Blacklight’s myriad unlockable weapons, but little guidance on how to effectively use them. You can store several weapon presets but can’t rename them, so you’d better remember which is which if you want two assault rifle loadouts. The ranks don’t come with CoD-style perks or other rewards beyond new gun and armor parts. There is a fiction to the world of Blacklight, but you won’t encounter it unless you read the dry in-game help menus. In short, there’s a general lack of polish to the supplementary material that supports the gameplay.
Lock and Load
Fortunately, the core gameplay at the heart of Blacklight is tight and enjoyable. The soldiers of Blacklight seem a little more fragile than the avatars in other FPS games, so expect lots of fast-paced matches with high kill counts and short lives. The well-designed maps lend themselves to a variety of gameplay types and encourage mastery of all types of weapons. In short, it’s a solid multiplayer game, though not without some shortcomings that bear noting. If you’re a single-player gamer there’s nothing for you here, but if going online to show off your skills is what you’re all about, you’ll probably get your money’s worth out of Blacklight: Tango Down.