Reviewed: August 9, 2010
Released: July 7, 2010
Are you bored with Modern Warfare II yet? Are you counting down the days until Black Ops or the new Medal of Honor arrives? If so then Blacklight: Tango Down might just be the fix you need to get you through the summer slump. Itís not the prettiest or the most advanced shooter out there but it does offer some fun modes, a nice selection of maps, and some challenging gameplay, and itís only $15 (1200 MS Points).|
Tango Down (actually a real military term for confirming an enemy kill) is a multiplayer only shooter. There is no campaign and no real story other than a few paragraphs hidden away in one of the menus, but as Modern Warfare has proven, you donít need a story to spend hundreds of hours shooting friends and strangers online.
Choose your side; a Covert Ops group known as Blacklight or the Order, a group of ex-Special Forces, each with their own custom classes and configurable loadouts, then pick from any of 12 surprisingly large and complex maps and do what these guys do best. You can play in all-out versus or team modes including Deathmatch, Retrieval, and Domination. There is an awesome mode for co-op called Black Ops where you and up to three others work your way through various objectives and checkpoints. These missions are more structured and slightly linear. There is also a training mode that allows you to go up against computer opponents, and while the AI is exceptional, the game just isn't as rewarding going up against "robots". Still, it's great practice so you can figure out how things work before you head online and get your ass handed to you.
Every game needs a hook and Blacklightís is the HRV or Hyper Reality Visor, a visual enhancement gadget that lights up the surrounding area and pinpoints targets and pick-ups for a short period before needing some downtime to recharge. To balance this item is the Digi Grenade, an EMP weapon that temporarily shorts out any electronic gadgets within its bubble of influence, effectively blinding those inside.
If you love perks, rewards, and upgrades then Blacklight is second only to Modern Warfare II with hundreds of rewards that are constantly unlocking as you make kills and earn valuable XP. While the weapons are really good, both in design and effectiveness, once you attach a few upgrades to them things get really fun, and scoped weapons and headshots are some of the best kills Iíve experienced in any FPS.
The AV presentation is most impressive, especially for a digitally delivered game. The level of detail in the environments and the enemy soldiers rivals anything youíll see in a retail game, and the framerate was flawless, even with a full 16-player match on some complicated map designs. There is a futuristic style about the game that takes it one step beyond Ghost Recon. The sound is also quite good with realistic effects for the weapons and some nice voice work for the com chatter. The synthesized music was a bit much but sticks mostly to the menus and setup screens.
My only issues with the game are longevity. The reason people are still playing Modern Warfare II is because people are still playing Modern Warfare II. While I saw a definite spike in player activity the weeks after Blacklight released, online opponents have been dwindling slowly. I still have some loyal friends who have this game and still join me for Black Ops, but the versus modes seems to be losing ground, and when Medal of Honor and Black Ops release in a couple of months I fear this game will be forgotten.
Blacklight: Tango Down snuck in during the perfect window of opportunity and filled a niche that needed filling. If you enjoy GRAW, Modern Warfare II, or any other quality FPS for that matter, then give this game a shot. Itís only $15 Ė the same amount you likely paid for a handful of maps for Call of Duty, and this is a full game with some cool design elements and challenging gameplay that will keep you entertained as long as there are others playing it as well.