[Game Review] Blacklight: Tango Down (XBLA, PSN)

System: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network
Zombie Studios
Ignition Entertainment
First Person Shooter

Many of you, like myself some two weeks ago, likely haven’t heard of Blacklight: Tango Down, unless you frequent the Xbox Live Arcade. Blacklight is a game that was released last Wednesday in the live arcade, and has taken off since then. Here’s a little bit of insight to this sleeper hit.

Set in a fictitious Eastern Bloc city well into the future, Blacklight: Tango Down can be summed up for the most part in the phrase “Modern Warfare 2 in the future on Meth.” The game itself is ran off of the Unreal 3 engine, and maintains a visual aesthetic that is similar in many ways to the Infinity Ward giant. While keeping the same look, and somewhat of the same feel, Blacklight is a shooter all its own.


The game boasts a customization system that has the most customizable loadouts of any FPS on the market in terms of individual weapons, as well as armor and camo. We’ll talk more about this later. The game is, from the start, a multiplayer-focused game through and through. All modes support between 4 and 16 players, with traditional game modes like Domination, Death Match, and Team Death Match. There are also a handful of missions called “black ops” that serve as the game’s somewhat of a story line. Having not played too far into these black ops missions the most I can tell you is that you’re a kick ass super advanced special forces unit in a shitty old Soviet state filled with rouge agents and zombie like things reminiscent of those bastards from 28 Days later in the sense that they come running at you and are very, very pissed with you as a person.

To be honest in the few minutes that I played the games story mode, I was not impressed. It takes on a “go here, fight off enemies. Now go there and hack a control point, fight off enemies. Now go here and fight off enemies while someone hacks a control point so that you can fight more enemies.”  It’s by no means the worst story I’ve played, but definitely not up to par with other premium games out there.

Right off the bat you can tell that Multiplayer is what Blacklight was made for, and for only $15 I would say it’s pretty fun, but it’s also pretty aggravating. The visuals are nice, the maps are nice, but there are a few things in the game that definitely need attention.  Most maps are pretty simple, two spawns on battlefields that can have as many as three levels to play on (various building tops, ledges, etc). Some maps have environmental hazards. Derailer, for example, is a  map set on a train bridge and features two subway trains that pass back and forth killing off those who brave the subway tunnel without ducking or listening for traffic. Sky Fire is a battle atop several buildings inside the fictional city the game takes place in — one wrong jump and its goodbye roofs hello concrete.

Each spawn also contains two or three large sentry turrets, whose job it is to ward off would-be spawn campers and general spawn rushing jerks. The turrets were an interesting idea to help curb spawn camping, but were implemented poorly. In most maps the turrets are positioned just so that any enemy who can jump up to a certain spot, or position themselves behind something, can avoid fire, although upon closing in on a certain range the turrets open fire and track the enemy.

Spawns themselves also were built with good intentions that failed. Each spawn has some sort of barrier, or wall between it and the battlefield, leaving a handful of ways to exit to the fray. The problem with this is that if none of your team are on the battlefield, cue the vicious plundering of your spawn via some 13 year olds who think their clan is the best thing to hit the Xbox Live scene since, well, Xbox Live (True story right there.)

The last order of business is the weapons. SMG, LMG, Assault rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun. You get the basics, as well as a 9m, .45, and revolver pistol for your side arm. Proximity mines, hand grenades, and interesting future tech takes on the classic smoke and flash grenades. Smoke grenades make a cloud of denied access frames that block your Hyper Reality Visor, while flash grenades make your helmet go through a reboot, ala blue screen of death mode. You get a number of custom parts for your guns, stocks, barrels, scopes, etc, each adding to the 25 or so attributes your weapon has. Of these 25 three major ones show up when tinkering. Sprint, damage, and health.

One stock may slow you down, but reduce your recoil and give you more bullets on target. One magazine may make you reload just a bit faster, but take some health away from your overall boost. Some of the customization doesn’t make sense, because right now you simply put things together based on the three stats shown, or personal preference, but there is a lot to work with, and several prefab designs for you to try.

Final Thoughts

Blacklight: Tango down is by no means a Modern Warfare killer, but its a fun game. Right now it has its flaws, but they have promptly been addressed by the devs, and solutions should be inbound. The graphics are good and the gameplay is simple, fast, and fairly enjoyable. The weapon systems are neat, fun to play with, and sometimes a bit confusing. All in all Blacklight: Tango Down stands as a nice $15 game if you want something similar to MW2 without the game breaking loopholes and incoming possibility of pay to play.

Score: 7.75/10 (Good)

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