Reviewed: November 22, 2010
Released: October 26, 2010
There's hardy an absence of online shooters nowadays. From Call of Duty to Halo, from Team Fortress 2 to Left 4 Dead, if you want to shoot people over the Internet, options are hardly in short supply. Still, pretty much all of these are retail games. When it comes to downloadable games, there hasn't really been an option until Zombie Studios and Ignition Entertainment released Blacklight: Tango Down.|
Blacklight: Tango Down is an online first person shooter set in the near future, as a special forces unit named Blacklight and a terrorist cell named The Order battle each other in an eastern European city. What really sets Blacklight apart from its competitors in terms of gameplay is its focus on information warfare. Pressing up on the directional pad lowers your gun, but brings up tags that mark each player in the direction you're looking, regardless of obstacles in the way. Digi-grenades broadcast an area of junk information that obscures opponents' field of view, while leaving your own clean. While additions like these seem minor, they go a long way in controlling the map, tracking down snipers, and arranging ambushes.
Blacklight's graphics are somewhat of a mixed bag. While the actual in-game graphics are far better than could be expected of a downloadable game, often giving the impression of a retail game, the menus are less useful. Confusing names for options (Do I want to go to the armory or the personal locker?), misleading and downright inaccurate lists of commands for browsing, and a visual style that interprets the gameplay theme of information by having numbers and letters cycling and zooming around in the backgrounds of menus makes getting to the gameplay and customization in Blacklight a daunting task for the kind of casual gamer that might be drawn in by the game's low price tag.
Weapon customization is one of the more interesting aspects of Blacklight, with experience on the battlefield unlocking new weapon options, and giving players the ability to customize their gun's stock, barrel, sight and more. The sheer variety of fiddly ways you can play with your guns should make any fan of customization excited, and spur a climb up the level system, while players less inclined to make their own weapons can select from a variety of pre-designed firearms.
While Blacklight supports a variety of gameplay modes, ranging from survival and deathmatches to domination and base-bombing, I found it difficult to find a game of anything other than deathmatch. When you can't find any matches you're interested in, there's the Black Ops mode, which lets players team up with friends over the Internet to go through a series of cooperative levels and gain experience by fighting the computer.
It's tempting to compare Blacklight: Tango Down to a retail game, but that speaks highly in its favor. While Blacklight might not have the longevity of a Call of Duty game, or the depth of tactical options, it stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of downloadable games. For its price tag, it'll serve you well when you get burned out on the latest triple-A release and need something to tide you over until the next big one.