Developer: Zombie Studios
Release Date: 4/3/2012
For Fans Of: Blacklight, Free 2 Play, Gun Porn
Also Available On: PC Exclusive
The Good: Free 2 play done correctly (doesn’t limit the player), stunning visuals, great competitive gameplay, the best customization, well-balanced, works with Logitech G15 and G510 keyboards
The Bad: Takes far to long to earn enough points to buy the equipment you want
As time goes on, more and more Free 2 Play games seem to pop up, and as this happens we can see that their quality improves as well. As we can see from other new or even unreleased Free 2 Play titles like Fire Fall and Tribes: Ascend. New ways of using the Free 2 Play model are also emerging, and companies like Riot games have made great use of it with their game, League of Legends. I am more than happy to say that Blacklight: Retribution follows that same model and it works beautifully.
Blacklight: Retribution is the sequel to the XBLA/PSN/PC game Blacklight: Tango Down; a multiplayer only shooter title with amazing customization, but a let down due to its rather small player base. This time around, Zombie Studios has teamed up with Perfect World Entertainment to create what is essentially a MMO Shooter, and it works to some extent. The layout of menu’s is easy to use and never leaves you wondering how to I get to this specific area of the interface. On top of this is the games stunning cyber punk art style, which really shows when using the games fully integrated DirectX 11 support. However, I never felt really drawn in, as if I was fighting for something like in other MMO’s, everyone is just an agent, your team appears blue and theirs red. That said, it is forgivable due to the fact that there is no story in the first place.
The design of the maps is great, there is never a moment where the position of the enemy seems unfair or unbalanced, with plenty of open areas and tight alleys to take the fight too. Gameplay becomes really exiting by the use of the HRV or Hyper Reality Visor, Picture is as a Built in and Balanced wall hack, for a short period of time you can see where other players are around the map, supply depots and even if they are using the mech like hardsuits (which are a lot of fun to use), however. During this time, you cannot use your weapons and will find yourself from time to time dying due to someone being right around the corner, this isn’t a bad thing, but it does cause for some jump-right-off-your-seat scares at times.
When you play a match, your kills add towards your overall character ranking which earns you GP (ingame currency), as well as earning you money for that round only known as CP. CP can be used at supply depots to buy special weapons like flamethrowers and rocket launchers, as well as health and ammo. As the game goes along you tend to find that everyone is using these weapons and everything turns to chaos with people trying to kill hardsuits and burn others alive making the games progressively more and more interesting.
The weapon and armor customization is also a game changer because you only begin with a basic assault rifle and armor set, but as you play more and more you get in-game credit to spend on more items which you can rent for 1, 7, or 30 days and even buy the part out right to use forever. Each part gives different stat boosts to your weapon/gun which can be anything from decreased recoil to increased range. This may not seem like much but it makes every gun feel unique so it is always fun to pick up another players gun and see how it feels to shoot it. As for customization on weapons, all primary guns can have everything swapped and changed for a new part that makes the gun look radically different. Even cooler still is when you change the parts around, it changes the name accordingly, which is just plain awesome
Everything in the game is unlockable just by playing the game, so there is no need to fear for wallet warriors like in some other F2P games (Battlefield Play4Free, but lets not go there). All the game changing things like barrels and sights are all balanced so even with the most basic weapon and armor, you won’t feel as if you are going to get dominated by the others with fully customized gear. There is an exception though, the only thing you can’t buy with in-game cash is purely cosmetic, this being camo for your guns and armor, however, there is some camo that you can buy with in-game cash, and looks just as good as the paid camo.
The only downside to Blacklight is that everything seems to cost too much. No matter how well you tend to do in-game you never seem to earn more than 200GP (GP being the in-game currency), and on average you only tend to earn 150GP. This may seem like a lot but with armor pieces being 7,750GP to permanently own and gun attachments going anywhere from 2,250GP to 7,750GP it can be hard to hard to get the part you want. That said you can purchase the part for the day for around 100GP to 250GP. But these issues doesn’t stop with in-game currency either, the ZEN points (currency earned by spending real money with the minimum you can add at a time being 500, which is worth $5US) also cost far too much with somethings costing around $10US.
One last note that is important to add is this. I am in Australia, and like 99.99% of gamers, I hate lag. I will rather have nothing to do and be bored senseless than t play in a laggy game, but despite this, Blacklight only have servers in the US and Europe (AUS servers are coming soon) I still find myself having fun, and even though it causes me to die frequently. I still manage to have a lot of fun playing this game.
Blacklight is a spectacular game with excellent gameplay and unrivaled customization that raises the bar of Free 2 Play first person shooters. It’s fast paced, fun and competitive and I can see myself wasting the same amount of time on it as I do with other AAA titles such as Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3. My only wish now is that other publishers learn from Perfect World and Zombie and really help make Free 2 Play, free to play.