Blacklight: Tango Down was released to capitalize on the multiplayer mayhem that has gathered players together to shoot each other since Goldeneye. Now as a fully downloadable game on the Xbox Live Arcade, it offers gamers the opportunity to deathmatch all day, all night and not even bother talking to somebody at the game store. Can a digital download be worth your money and satisfy that deathmatch craving? Blacklight may do the trick for you, but I’ll tell you right now that, though appealing for some, you might not be able to figure out why…
Blacklight is basically a stand-alone multiplayer game that borrows elements from every conceivable modern shooter. There are the usual game modes…deathmatch and team deathmatch, along with other traipses that involve objectives like retrieving a package and hacking controls (though deathmatch, naturally, is the centerpiece to this game). The game includes twelve maps and a forgettable, almost nonsensical campaign that, while present with cooperative play, is barely even worth mentioning. Make no mistake, this is a multiplayer-focused game.
Naturally, you’re going to want to jump in a match and start blowing people away. There’s only one problem; your character sucks. Unless you are the new Fa7ality (highest paid deathmatch player ever) then you will most likely be getting killed constantly. It takes a good number of kills and streaks to build up your experience and earn new add-ons to your weapons and upgraded armor before you can hope to compete on the same level as some of the established players.
Speaking of upgrades, one of the game’s main focuses would be the customization of weapons and overall stats such as clip size, armor, and speed. Creating combinations of grips, scopes, muzzles, etc. allow you to make any kind of character you want. You can even add little trinkets called tags to your primary weapon that will adjust your stats.
In this way, though, it feels a bit like there was too much focus developer-side on customization, and not on things like level design. The actual firefights are usually frantic and the team deathmatch is all about pinning the opposing team down at their spawn point. The teams can actually become imbalanced since there is no way to switch teams during a match, so if half of your team ditches you may be stuck fighting a hopeless battle.
A spot of originality on this standard SAS (shoot at #%*@) game is the Hyper Reality Visor, or HRV. This allows you to see enemies moving through walls and the location of ammo and health stations (wall hax!), however it also disables your ability to attack. Since there is a delay in activating and deactivating the HRV, using it a tight spot or being attacked by surprise means instant death. It would be a more handy tool if you could attack or if the switch was instant, but the developers may have been trying to balance the ability with the gameplay.
At a reasonably priced $15, this game is bound to have some replay value if not only for the fact that, in order to get any enjoyment out of it, it must be played long enough to build up a character that can withstand a gunfight. Based on the demo, I wasn’t considering purchasing the game, but having played it for almost two weeks I can definitely say that there is value there. Since you can’t trade it in you may as well play it, but if you haven’t purchased it already you may want to consider putting that $15 towards Halo: Reach. If you aren’t getting it or need your deathmatch fix until it comes out, this is probably a decent investment. Just make sure you give yourself time before tossing the controller down in frustration.