Blacklight: Tango Down Review

If I asked what kind of competitive online shooter you want to play, I would guess most of you would say you just want Halo or Call of Duty. And those really wouldn’t be bad answers, as those two franchises have pretty much owned the realm of online shooters over the past decade or so.

Zombie Studios also understands this, and their new online shooter, Blacklight: Tango Down, reflects this line of thought in that it plays like the child of those two franchises would. What that means, exactly, is that the controls are like Call of Duty, but it moves at the speed of Halo. It kinda works.

Blacklight: Tango Down (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Zombie Studios
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: Jul 14, 2010
MSRP: $9.99

What you have here is a game that some people are going to “get” immediately, and the rest of us are going to be flailing around awkwardly for the first game or two, just because it looks like Call of Duty and moves like Halo. It’s immediately disorienting, and that’s partially because you don’t have a campaign to get used to the feel and partially because this is a brand new IP and nobody has had years to get a handle on it.

Of course, even when you do get a handle on it, it can’t match the previously mentioned AAA retail titles, but that’s OK since it’s only $15.

OK, so let’s get into the nitty gritty. The best mode in this game, easily, is Team Deathmatch, which is where most folks spend their time anyway as that mode gives you the most XP for kills. There’s also regular Deathmatch, a capture the flag mode called Retrieval, a control point mode called Domination, and a couple Counter-Strike-style Last Man Standing modes that really aren’t at all enjoyable.

Oh, and then there’s the co-op Black Ops mode, which is basically a less enjoyable version of, well, Black Ops in Modern Warfare 2.

This is all built on a progression system that gives you new scopes and magazines and stuff as you rank up, like Call of Duty, although the deck generally isn’t as stacked against lower-ranked players like it is in CoD.

Zombie Studios also throws in a couple attempts at unique features, like the digigrenade, which blinds anyone with its radius, but it ends up just being a smoke grenade because even those outside the radius can’t see inside it. There’s also the visor, which allows the player to, briefly, see where everyone is on the map. It’s useful in spots, but only if you happen to use it when an enemy is right around the corner.

In the end, you have a game that’s generally enjoyable but not particularly noteworthy beyond the low price. My biggest beef, though, is with matchmaking; the game will never place you in a matching already in progress. This makes it difficult at times to find games, because a lot of times it’ll spend five or ten minutes looking for a game only to place you in a lobby by yourself. Then you’ll sit there waiting for five more players to start a game, and typically what will happen is folks will join, wait a minute and then leave.

Blacklight doesn’t have a large community, which is to be expected since it’s an unestablished downloadable title, and so this can end up crippling the experience for players who just want to jump in for a game or two per session. Also, it makes it so people leaving the game can destroy it, because the matchmaker will never add anyone new, which, in my experience, led to a number of three-on-one or two-on-one matches, which are never fun.

In the end, the low price is nice and appealing, and you’ll probably get your money’s worth. But the matchmaking will keep Blacklight from becoming a staple for any but the most obsessive gamers, and most of us aren’t obsessive enough to stick with this one.

Pros:

Fun once you get used to it
Simple leveling system
Good price
High production values/nice map design

    Cons:

    Gamebreaking matchmaking
    Tacked-on campaign mode (hehe)
    Unique items are just novelties

      Score: 65/100

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      4 Comments on Blacklight: Tango Down Review

      DrinkingWhiskey

      On July 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      What unique items are just novelties?
      Don’t complain\Con list the matchmaking when you say MW2 is the shooter most people would want to play.
      Other than that nice review.

      Dr Bob 477

      On August 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

      Excellent review. I like the gameplay, but the reason why I hardly ever play the game is because finding a game takes forever, which sucks pretty hard.

      Jake

      On September 25, 2010 at 1:06 am

      I partially agree with Dr Bob; the matchmaking is essentially broken as I can never find a game. However, on occasions where I have actually managed to join a game, I found spawn-camping to be a major issue. In fact, you could almost says its a totally game-breaking issue — that is if the matchmaking allows it.

      However, I only paid £2.40 (just under $4 US dollars) for it, so it’s not like I’m bankrupt lol.

      stephen mc glade

      On October 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

      can anybody tell if there a off line single player mode.