Blacklight: Tango Down Review: Get Down, Get Down

Single-player story? Who needs that! Downloadable title Blacklight: Tango Down has multiplayer. But can the game hold its own with the retail heavyweights?

Blacklight: Tango Down is set in near-future Eastern bloc state, where two factions face off: the Order and Blacklight. The controls will be familiar to anyone who has played a Call of Duty game. And the seven multiplayer online modes include favorites like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Retrieval (aka Capture The Flag) and more. The game has classes like Sniper, Shotgun, Submachine Gun, etc.

Those who put in time and effort will be rewarded with a ranking system and unlockable items to customize their weapons and appearance. Tango Down isn't just aping other games in the genre and does have a few twists of its own, enabling Blacklight to put its own spin on what has been done before.

Loved
Pixelated: Much of Blacklight: Tango Down feels familiar — almost to the point of being derivative. That's not necessarily a bad thing as it offers a shorthand to players. It's as though first-person shooters you have played before are the tutorial. When Tango Down sets out on its own, the game really feels as though it has something to offer. There are EMP bombs that cause the screen to pixelate. It looks cool, and it didn't feel gimmicky. In fact, it gave Blacklight: Tango Down this wonderful gamey quality. While playing, there was frequent pop-in when I got killed. Likewise, it gave the Tango Down a you-are-playing-a-game feel. Granted, I do not know if the pop-in was intentional! It probably wasn't, but combined with the pixelated EMPs, the dissolving dead bodies and the blue screen of death, there something very postmodern about the game. I kind of wish that the developers ran with this further!

Bang-Bang For Your Buck: Tango Down costs US$15, which isn't a bad price considering the fact that extra Modern Warfare 2 maps went for the same price. Blacklight: Tango Down is packed with something like 12 maps. And those maps did feel somewhat claustrophobic at times, but they are full of variety and generally well designed. The weapon customization also keeps things from getting stale. One of the coolest features in the game is The Hyper Reality Visor, which players can access by pressing "up" on the directional pad. The HRV allows players to see through walls and objects so that they can locate enemies. It's a shame you cannot fire your weapon while using it. While there are several "Black Ops" co-op missions that feel like filler, the rest of the game feels meaty for its price point.

Hated
Wait, What?: There were times I did not know what was going on in Blacklight: Tango Down. Like, for example, when I was trying to navigate game menus or make out the tiny text on the screen. There is a lot of tiny text in this game! From what I understand, there is a plot line to Blacklight: Tango Down. I couldn't quite make heads or tails of it, but that actually did not bother me. Some of the interface issues did, however. They don't affect the gameplay, which is generally straight up and solid.

Happy Campers: Players respawn at set locations in the game. In an effort to cut down on camping at spawn points, Blacklight: Tango Down has the Hyper Reality Visor and also automated turrets, which will turn any enemies that step in front of them into Swiss cheese. That didn't stop camping, but what it did do on some maps was create reverse camping. Some players hang out near their own turrets and then get double the firepower to upload on the rival faction.

Blacklight: Tango Down is almost a great multiplayer game. It feels like it needs just a slight push to get not only where it wants to be, but where it deserves to be. The basic shooter elements were fine, but sure, you could say they felt a little floaty. Or you could say that it feels slightly unbalanced — especially after getting your ass handed to you. But generally speaking, the basic shooter elements are fine. But the game never really quite makes the big leap to stand out. It gets close, but then seems to hold back and stay in its safety zone. I liked Blacklight: Tango Down. It could be better. But that's what sequels are for, right?

Blacklight: Tango Down was developed by Zombie Studios and published by Ignition Entertainment on July 7 for the Xbox 360 and on July 14 for PC. Retails for $14.99 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through the multiplayer modes and "Black Ops".

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