Blacklight Tango Down is a game that reads excellent on paper. A First Person Shooter, downloadable, with unlockables, co-op and a wealth of maps and game types to die for. But not every game that looks good on paper is the same in reality.
As previously mentioned, there is a good amount of content in the game for the money. Blacklight Tango Down takes place in a futuristic Eastern-European setting among 12 metropolitan maps. Although it never really plays into the game, the two factions that make the teams have some backstory. Blacklight is a “covert ops unit” that is pro-US, and they are provided with the latest technology to fight The Order, a rebel group comprised of anti-US, ex-special forces and militia.
The technology of this future warfare is based upon the advantages and weakness of a Hyper Reality Visor of which each soldier on both sides is equipped, and acts as the HUD for the player during the game. Objects such as health and ammo stockpiles, enemy players, turrets, and grenades are pointed out in this view, adding to smooth controls to complete a slick, fast paced style. Cleverly, grenades are specialised for combating the effects of the HUD; instead of flashes or smoke, there are EMP and Digi grenades that malfunction the helmet, outputting a blue screen full of script blocking vision and a pixelated cloud hiding enemy movement. This adds a spin on tactical elements that can’t be found in other titles of the same genre.
Other weapons include pistols, SMGs, assault and sniper rifles which can be unlocked and upgraded with progression in the game’s 70 level rank system. Experience can be gained in any of the games’ features, adding to a single profile. Black Ops is the co-operative game mode, whilst the bulk of content is a competitive team-based and solo multiplayer section.
Black Ops is a selection of four of the multiplayer maps, with a choice of three difficulties. The areas are completely linear, as the player is thrust forward; defeating AI controlled enemies and taking objectives and their simple copycat puzzles with ease. Being linear and having a terribly shallow AI, it isn’t particularly entertaining; in fact it is predictable and boring. There is nothing special in the multiplayer game modes despite looking different. They boil down to score-based and respawn-limited Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, single and multiple item Capture-the-Flag, and a score based control point battle – Domination.
It’s disappointing to add to this that from a gameplay and technical perspective, the game is broken. Should the game manage to scratch a lobby together with the minimum number of players, after a lengthy wait, and should it not drop the match completely, there is a severe player spawning issue. The problem is that both teams are spawned in the same area and in every single match one team will dominate over the other. There is evidence that this issue was evident in testing, as turrets are placed around a spawn area; however it does not stop players being boxed in.
On the receiving end of this, you would imagine that is extremely frustrating, but the game forces the teams to this sort of behaviour. The fixed areas, respawn times and small teams makes it so at the moment of a slight advantage, players are drawn to the specific locations, knocking down enemy players as soon as they stand and thus gaining experience. Other games have solved this problem by varying the locations at which teams come back to life; so why is this not the case with Blacklight Tango Down?
Blacklight Tango Down holds the premise for a great downloadable game. It looks great and there is plenty to sink your teeth into. That is true until you manage to get into a multiplayer match. The game has game-breaking problems, and with 5 minutes of fun comes potentially an hour of lost patience and frustration. Online play is very fragile; the game has a major problem migrating a host, which is quite often considering other problems. Its problems could be fixed by patch, but it isn’t looking likely since a sequel is currently being developed. If Zombie Studios welcomes feedback and makes changes, great, but right now bank your Microsoft Points for something with a lot more polish.