Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Developer: Zombie Studios
ESRB rating: Teen
Release date: Available Now
By the title alone, you’d think that Blacklight: Tango Down was a Spanish-language dancing game. This could not be further from the truth, and in confidence, I’m relieved by that fact. No, the only “tangos” you engage in this competitive multiplayer shooter are sighting you from a dark corner and using any of a number of weapon combinations and skill-enhancing weapon tags to make your death as personal as they can while playing from halfway across the globe.
There’s really not a whole lot to explain about the story of Blacklight: Tango Down, other than it’s set approximately 25 years in the future. All the weapons and armor are taken from actual military ideas, and you’re fighting against an equally powerful and technologically savvy enemy somewhere in Eastern Europe. Actually, that explanation makes it sound a little more complicated than it really is. All you need to worry about is that the more people you kill, the more weapons and augmentations you unlock. Did I mention there are tons of weapon combinations? I did? Good.
Because, to me, that’s the major selling point of this $15 downloadable: the constant reward and consequent ability to customize your loadout in meaningful ways. Don’t expect innovative level design, a gripping narrative, deep characters or a robust campaign to greet you, but do expect to be dipping into the armory in between matches to alter your kit for optimum results on the battlefield. Seventy levels of progression await, each with its own reward, so you’d better get killin’.
And while this plethora of customization is appealing, the lack of a dedicated single-player campaign is disappointing. There is a “Black ops” mode, which tasks you with making it to a goal while under attack from generic Helghast(ish) enemies, but that’s about it. I thought it was pretty fun at first, but I soon noticed that enemies were habitually getting stuck on walls and throwing grenades at their feet. I guess when you count on human opponents as bread-and-butter competition, the enemy A.I. suffers.
That’s not all, either. I encountered a fair amount of lag (freezing, rubber-banding, etc.) during my play time, which caused some cheap deaths on my part. I’d like to put this down to my connection and not poor network optimization, but I can’t – it’s just laggy. I didn’t have a problem finding a game, however, which was welcome. The sound effects are also nothing to write home about. Guns sound muffled, the din of battle seems distant; I felt a great disconnect with the game overall because of this. I can’t knock the controls, though, because they are as tight as can be (and that’s saying a lot, considering I was using the PS3 controller, which is notoriously non-FPS friendly).
But hey, it’s only $15 bucks, and anyone out there who’s tired of Halo, Call of Duty or (insert shooter title here) wouldn’t exactly be wasting their money picking up Blacklight: Tango Down. It’s far from perfect, it’s far from original, but it plays well and will sate the competitive shooter fan for a week or two. If that sounds like it’s worth the price of admission, then be my guest. If not, you probably already have a game or three on your shelf that’ll give you the same thrill.