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Blacklight: Retribution review

Blacklight: Retribution

Free-to-play just got a quality boost

Games for Cheapskates


Back in 2007, I was flat broke. I decided to challenge myself to game for a couple of months without spending a dime, legally of course. I had dabbled in free-to-play online games such as SilkRoad Online, but was surprised to find an FPS on my list of games to get. War Rock turned out to be a very fun distraction, for its lack of a price.

When Blacklight: Tango Down was released in 2010 it received generally mixed reviews. Most reviewers agreed, however, that for a measly 15$, this was probably the best multiplayer FPS experience change could buy. With the upcoming sequel, Blacklight: Retribution, currently in open beta, Zombie Studios obviously listened to their audience as the best aspect of the game, the price, has been made even better by disappearing altogether. Being free does not make a game good, however, and with the plethora of other free-to-play shooters on the market today, it's starting to get about as competitive as the big budget market. We got our hands on the final build of Blacklight: Retribution and gave it a run for its... Zen.

Confusion and Clarity


The game's menus and options are quite futuristic in style, complete with an Asian looking typeface the meaning of which completely escapes me. Although the general look is satisfactory, the character customisation options are badly placed and I found myself repeatedly going into the wrong menu when I wanted to, for example, change my gun. Under the customisation menu, there are two sub-menus. The former, “Equipment”, is everything other than the weapon and I found myself instinctively heading there when I wanted to alter my arms. After all, one would expect a weapon to be regarded as a part of a soldier's equipment. All-in-all, the menus and interface in the game's front-end seem quite cluttered, and if you don't know what you're doing, finding anything may become a matter of trial and error.

Once inside the game, however, doubt is not a factor. For a free-to-play game, this one has some of the best visuals I've seen in a long time. Not only are the graphics themselves exemplary, running DirectX 11 on a heavily modified Unreal 3 engine, but the visual design is also quite impressive. I must make a complaint however, as the game forces you to view the action in 16:10 ratio. I belong to a rapidly shrinking sector of gamers who still uses a 5:4 monitor, so I'm playing this with two black borders above and bellow the image. It doesn't affect gameplay at all, but it is an eyesore none the less. Each character's outfit has Tron-like lights on key parts of their body which are either blue, if he's on your team, or red. This way, there's never a doubt in your mind as to whom you are supposed to shoot at. The blue guys are always on your team so there's never a chance that you'll forget which side you're on and accidentally make Swiss cheese out of a team mate.
Fun score 8.2

Pros

Fantastic customisation options, visually pleasing, great action.

Cons

Confusing and cluttered interface, fixed aspect ratio.

Game Screenshots