Fluffy dice hanging from your gun. It’s the next big thing.
Blacklight: Tango Down, developed by Zombie Studios and published by ignition Entertainment, is a first-person shooter that can be found for download on XBLA (it is also now available on Pc and will soon be on PSN) But this does not make the game an arcade game, not by a long shot.
Blacklight has taken what a lot of players consider to be the most important part of games like Modern Warfare 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the online component, and packaged it up as a game in its own right. Some may consider this to be a touch lazy, but for the price that they are asking and the amount of content you get for that price, I wonder why there are not more games like this?
The game is set in a fictional, near-future universe that is promised to be the setting for all sorts of entertainment. There is a movie in the works, books, graphic novels and the hope of other games, all based within the Blacklight universe. What may seem to be unfamiliar at the moment has the potential to become a well known setting for all kinds of future gaming fun.
Anyway, the story line for Tango Down is largely irelevant, as the game is based mostly around a formula that we have all come to know in recent years. Enter a match, shoot your friends and people you don’t know, earn experience and rank up. In this respect Tango Down is fairly generic in its execution.
I am no expert on FPS games, but that is not to say that I did not enjoy this title. There are the standard bunch of different game types and the usual equipment pre-sets that you would expect to find. Leveling up allows the player to unlock new weapons and armour, as well as various little items with which to customise your online persona.
These items are one of the much hyped selling points of the game. It is suggested that, once they are all available, there are millions of variations that can be achieved. Whilst this is a bold claim and an impressive selling point, the reality is rather less impressive. Indeed, the choices can become cumbersome and difficult to make. Do I really need that much choice?
Another selling point are the Hyper Reality Visors that are equipped, allowing the player to see the locations of others through walls and the like. This ability can be countered using special grenades that obscure the players vision to a degree. All of this allows for a certain level of strategy and extra care needs to be taken by those who are prone to camping.
For those missing any kind of single player mode, there are the Black Ops missions. These can be played alone, or in co-op, and pitch the player against hordes of computer controlled adversaries they try and complete simple objectives. Whilst not exactly deep and meaningful, they are a handy first stop for players wanting to get used to the game before humiliating themselves online, and are a fun distraction.
It is not all rosy though. There are a few failings in the game. Graphically, Tango Down is not overly impressive. The gritty setting does nothing to aid this, but it does seem to be substantially behind what we have come to expect from our shooters. The complete absence of any kind of tutorial, which I guess is because the game is aimed at people who know their way around an FPS, is actually more of a big deal than you would imagine. Aside from dropping newcomers in at the deep end, there is no explanation for some of the more unique modes, or information regarding the improving of weapons.
Perhaps the games biggest problem though, is its lack of innovation.It has an interesting setting, there are a huge number of customisation options and there are a couple of interesting ideas to be found. But, with that lot taken into account, the game is simply a clone of today’s most popular shooters.
Is that a bad thing though. Yeah, it would have been nice to have a more unique experience. But if it has to be more of the same, then why not copy the hugely popular online shooter genre?
And there you have it. The one defining factor that makes Blacklight: Tango Down a great game. The cost is a mere Â£10, or 1200 MSPoints. That’s Â£10 for the long lasting fun of a premium shooter at four times the price, minus the often ignored single player campaign. No is saying that Tango Down is as polished as these premium shooters, but I repeat – Â£10. To my mind, the game is a bargain.
Blacklight: Tango Down may not have all of the bells and whistles of the far more expensive, premium shooters from which it takes it’s inspiration, but it offers a damn good shooter experience for a damn good price.