I’m no stranger to first person shooters, I own a fair few on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC and have been playing them since the mid 90s, so when I received Blacklight: Tango Down for review I was delighted to play a game from one of my favourite genres but will I be playing it after writing this review? Let’s find out.
The first thing you should know about Blacklight: Tango Down is that it does not feature a single player campaign. Blacklight features seven different multiplayer modes, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Retrieval, Domination, Detonate, Last Man Standing and Last Team Standing. Although the objective in each is slightly different, as with any first person shooter, your main concern is to kill the opposing team. These modes are played across twelve maps, which is quite impressive for an arcade title but as you play through them you will find they are quite small and the layout is what lets Blacklight down – more on this later. The other mode in Blacklight is Black Ops. Black Ops is a co-op mode but can also be played on your own. There aren’t many missions to play and the ones that are available are very short and when playing solo, quite difficult. Sadly, I didn’t have any friends who were playing this game so couldn’t really try out co-op but I imagine it to be short lived and you will be spending most of your time playing the multiplayer modes.
To keep you playing this game for some time, Blacklight features a ranking system with rewards upon each rank up. You are given four different ‘loadouts’ which you can customize for your play style with the fairly limited selection of weapons, armour and equipment you receive. Although the combinations you can create are huge you will probably just use the weapons you unlock at each milestone as these tend to be better than your previous weapon. According to the leaderboards, it can take as little as a day and a half to reach the maximum rank of 70 but with my experience I find this hard to believe.
The waiting time for some games was sometimes between 15-30 minutes and as if this wasn’t bad enough, when I finally got into a match half the people would leave within 5 minutes of playing. In a Deathmatch this is bearable but when playing the rest of the modes which require you work as team being outnumbered usually meant losing. Another problem was the game doesn’t seem to take in to account the ranks at all and I found myself being surrounded by rank 70s all the time and very rarely players close to my own rank. When browsing my score on the leaderboards one day I happened to see that someone who had only played for 1 hour had achieved rank 70. I’m not sure how this was done but it would suggest that something is broken in this game.
The one area Blacklight does well in is the visuals. The details on the characters armour and weapons are great and the levels are nicely detailed with lots of little extras. It’s a shame that what you see on the outside doesn’t reflect the inside as the levels are quite simply a campfest. In some levels the small corridors allow you to keep the opposite team stuck in a never ending slaughter and in others you can snipe from your starting position and just there for the entire game and win. The reason this can be pulled off so well is there is only one spawn point per team, so if they get the upper hand they will simply shoot you as you leave your safe zone or sometimes while you're in it.
Finally, controls are similar to any other first person shooter I’ve ever played and they work fine. The music is the same track repeated over and over on the menu and the sound effects in game are just what you would expect, bangs and booms.
Is this worth the 1200 MS points Microsoft is asking? No. Oh, and if I have to hear the words “Tango Down” ever again, I’m going to shoot myself.