Game play - 8.5
Presentation - 8
Story / Creativity - 6.6
Lifespan - 9
Blacklight: Retribution is a great start for Zombie Studios after the stumble that was Tango Down. If they keep on track with supporting the community with extra content and patches to sort out the rendering and lag problems within matches then we may all be in for a summer free-to-play treat that could also end up lasting for years to come.
A few days ago I watched the trailer for Blacklight Retribution via Steam and boy was I surprised. Developed by Zombie Studios, Blacklight: Retribution once again puts players in the boots of futuristic policeman who seemingly fight to the death in objective based team arenas. If you aren’t killing other kitted out law enforcers then you are customizing your own avatar on the fly in and out of the battlefield. The question is: Is there anything more to it than that?
Retribution has been reworked over the lacking original game Blacklight: Tango Down which suffered from tacked on gameplay mechanics, dated visuals and what seemed to be an empty, soulless shell of a game. Zombie Studios went back to the drawing board and has this time put together a game worthy of a little bit of your time and money. So let’s get to the breakdown.
While keeping the core shooting mechanics intact, Retribution focuses on 8v8 grudge matches that are made up of you and your team fighting to obtain key locations around the dark, gritty maps. The shooting mechanics consist of basic aim and shoot gameplay like any other first person shooter, this is something you will be doing a lot too as there is ultimately little variety in what you do apart from running and gunning. Things can be mixed up a little though by obtaining credits for killing your foes which you can then use on weapon lockers to purchase heavy weapons and even mechanized battle suits.
The infamous assault rifle makes its return in Retribution too allowing you to purchase key customizable parts such as muzzles, scopes, stocks, etc. This ultimately allows players to create and play the way they want be it as a behind the front lines sniper or as a room clearing sub machine gunner. Not only can you tinker with the guts of your rifle but you can also choose from an array of aesthetic add-ons such as gun skins, and key chains.
After playing with these promising tools I can safely say that you will definitely want to go back and unlock the new schematic or weapon part. Though it would have been nice if there were different weapon classes as I personally prefer to use shotguns, so having the ability to make custom heavy duty shotguns or lightning fast pelletpultors would have been a great addition.
Problems begin to rise though through the way matches are laid out and performed in when playing. While you can spend all your cash on a Hardsuit mech, you are forced to find open ground to place the robot for spawning and while doing so you will awkwardly run around the field aiming at the floor like a headless chicken. This can end up with you losing your mech as you lose the ability to spawn it after you are killed.
As briefly mentioned maps can be a little awkward. One location sees you fighting through the original training area you must go through before starting the game and things can get frustatingly for freshly spawning players as the opposing team will be spawn in on your base at the same time. This can result in countless deaths and waiting time just to get a chance to walk around for a few seconds and die again. The problem could be easily rectified by allowing teams a unique spawn area for them to walk out of and be able to have a fair chance at gaining some ground advantage.
Luckily taking objectives can be a simple and also exhilarating task. Once you make your way to an untaken or enemy objective console, you must hack the terminal by choosing between to numbers with the right one being the one the same as the number presented between the two. You are then given a time limit to choose between the two and input five different numbers into the terminal before hacking. While doing this you are left vunerable to the enemy and a heart pounding sequence of events can occur as you occasionally take on a terminal by yourself only to be shot in the back while putting the last number.
Dying is also a pretty fun aspect to the game. Once you are defeated by an opponent you are forced into a slow-mo death screen as you float in slow motion after your embarrassing defeat. It is an interesting take on dying and thankfully left me with a smile on my face instead of frustration.
Something that many of my close friends know is that I am a massive fan of the sci-fi genre. The look of what the future may possibly end up like for our boys in blue shines brightly in Retribution through the use of neon lights and metallic sheen. If you love visual treats like Blade Runner or Deus Ex then this will be just the place for you.
Just like weapons, your personal avatar can be customised with an assortment of helmets, torsos, and legs. The great thing about it is that you are also not required to level up very high to gain access to most of the aesthetic content meaning you can create your own unique persona early on in your playtime. While the game looks pretty it also requires the player to have a high end PC to get the most out of the visuals available. Luckily I was able to get some time with the high end visuals which look gorgeous. This doesn’t fix problems though as the in-game visuals suffer from long render times and the occasional pop in. This can result in you spending around ten to fifteen seconds looking at what can only be described as a lego gun and washboard environments. The wait is obviously worth it though as the lush visual treat that is Blacklight: Retribution loads into view.
Blacklight Retribution doesn’t fall short in the sound department either. Each map consists of its own techno beat bop that will play subtle into your ear drums as your guns bang and whiz into the enemy players. Each track has a great moody feeling and doesn’t overstay its welcome with any form of annoyingly heavy music.
A slight problem I did have was with the training sections AI narrator. It just felt like I was listening to Microsoft Sam’s sister Sheila babble on at me constantly with broken up voice work and disjointed sentences that cut out when I was performing tasks. It ended up affecting my early gaming as the training narrator would cut out mid-sentence when explaining something like hacking and I would be forced to figure it out on my own through normal play.