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Posted by drew10 on Sep 16, 2010
Review – Blacklight: Tango Down – XBLA

Review – Blacklight: Tango Down – XBLA

This article was originally posted on July 15th but due to a server error never appeared on the site, we are very sorry for this oversight.

Black is the new Light.

We have been looking forward to Blacklight: Tango Down for sometime and have been hoping for great things. This futuristic first-person shooter from Ignition Entertainment on XBLA has the makings of something really special but does it deliver?

Set in a near-future where technology has advanced at such a rate that it has caused cultural decay. Cities have become nothing more than giant advertising spaces with no-go areas and the world has split onto two factions. One of these factions is The Order an anti-government organisation that have moved into the fictional city of Balik (where the game is set) where a disease is running riot. The disease ‘Sentient Insanity Virus’ has infected many of the population who have been effectively abandoned by the government. The Order have moved in looking to help the infected or SIVS and seek a cure. Although mostly they have been eliminating the virus by any means necessary.

The other faction is Blacklight of which you are a member of Tango Team. You are a specially selected special forces team working directly for the secretary of defence. Your mission is to investigate the disappearance of Colonel Klein and his team of Blacklight operatives. As a member of Blacklight you have access to the most advanced weaponry available.

Developers Zombie Studios are at great pains to let everyone know that BLTD is based in science fact rather than science fiction and claim that all the weaponry is based on current research models. Nice!

So a brilliant back-story then and the basis for a great FPS no doubt. Well here is the thing, Blacklight does what it does very well it is just after such a deep and interesting back story the game only delivers a standard multi-player shooter.

Lets get right into the gameplay then, considering what you pay for Blacklight: Tango Down (1200 MS points) you get a rich depth of gameplay and features for the multi-player arenas. There are twelve maps to choose from which offer a variety of scenarios and seven game modes offering up variations on the usual FPS blasts. So in terms of options BLTD is bountiful for its price.

Obviously as in any game it all comes down to how it plays and thankfully for the most part BLTD plays well. Gunfight’s and skirmishes are satisfying with lots of cover and arenas that move from open spaces to tight alleyways. Added to this is some truly unique weaponry. The Hyper Reality Visor (HRV) is a personal favourite and allows you to see through walls and objects as to where your enemies are located. It only lasts for a while before needing to recharge so should be used sparingly. To counteract this is the Digital Grenade, which explodes sending out a dome of EMP that scrambles the senses and electronics of any soldier standing within the blast radius, including the visor the game is viewed through rendering you temporarily blind.

The guns are enhanced versions of what we would normally see in current times but have literally thousands of customisation options to tweak and hone to your personal tastes, including little trinkets and charms that can be attached to your guns.

Map designs range from excellent to downright awful, with some levels allowing teams to cover all the exits from your spawn base and even though the base itself is protected by sentry guns trying to leave earns a quick bullet in the head almost every time. (This has been fixed in a patch since writing. Ed.)

The lack of any real single player game from Blacklight is a major shame as the story lends itself to a really decent sci-fi romp and I for one would love to get my teeth into the politics of the plot. There are a few missions labelled Black-Ops that allow either single or up to four-player co-op vis Xbox live to undertake four missions is all you get and are linear in the extreme but enjoyable nonetheless. Replay is essential as there are no save points anywhere on these missions. A split screen co-op would have been a highly welcome addition and something which seems to be slowly disappearing from FPS games.

Graphically BLTD is a triumph with the bleak setting and great character models. Burned out cars, damaged buildings litter-strewn alleyways and some great lighting really add atmosphere to the experience. Although the advertising hoardings and billboards that advertise Alienware gaming machines, ATI graphics cards and the like really kill any illusion of immersion in the futuristic setting. A poor showing and one that really grates. Personally I would have paid 300 extra MS points to have some made-up futuristic adverts that added to the feel rather than detract from it.

Blacklight is backed by an electronica soundtrack that thumps along nicely in the background whilst the sound of the guns and explosions rock the room. Every noise in this game is huge and can be felt as well as heard, not one if you are trying to play quietly.

For 1200 MS points Blacklight: Tango Down is a highly competent multi-player shooter that offers more content for a cheaper price than some map packs of full priced games. A lack of any depth to the single-player or co-op missions is something if a disappointment as the back story deserves deeper exploration. Perhaps it will in either Blacklight 2 or the comic or even the film which has been touted. For now though if you want a fast paced, futuristic and feature-filled multi-player shooter then you could do a lot worse.


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