There are loads of gamers who have played Modern Warfare 2 every day since its release — but haven’t touched the single-player campaign. It seems people really, really like to shoot other people in games. So a cheap, multiplayer-focused first-person shooter like Blacklight: Tango Down makes perfect sense. It’s not the most original shooter out there, but it’s a fun and inexpensive way to get your multiplayer fix.
Blacklight: Tango Down offers several adversarial modes on 12 maps and a Black Ops mode that can be played cooperatively with up to four players. There is some sort of story about a conflict between the U.S. covert ops unit Blacklight and an ex-U.S. Special Forces group called The Order, but you’ll never know this unless you read about it in the “How to Play” section of the menu. Blacklight shows off some high production values for the price, but there is zero explanation or story in the game.
This is an attractive shooter with a stylish sci-fi setting and freaky electronica soundtrack. When you first jump into the game it may be hard to believe you only paid $15 for it. Start playing and you’ll find it to be a fairly generic shooter but one unique aspect is the Hyper Reality Visor. By turning on your visor you can see all nearby enemies, friendlies, and important items like health stations. You can only use the visor for a limited time, though, and then you’ll have to wait for it to recharge.
Another gadget Blacklight introduces is the digi grenade, which creates a bubble of interference that will cause a soldier’s fancy-pants high-tech suit to freak out and blind the wearer with digital distortion. Unfortunately, these grenades turn out to be pointless because you can’t see into the bubble and pick your disoriented enemy off.
Every kill and assist you make in Blacklight earns you experience points that will increase your rank and unlock weapon upgrades. There are hundreds of upgrades to unlock and you’ll find the constant rewards to be pretty addictive. The game nails two very important FPS features: the guns are fun to shoot (especially after you’ve unlocked a few upgrades) and headshots are satisfying.
The adversarial modes are standard FPS stuff like Deathmatch, Retrieval, and Domination. Black Ops are more linear missions that funnel you through a level with checkpoints. Although designed for co-op, you can play Black Ops mode on your own and still earn experience points. It’s fun, but it’s also a bit of a missed opportunity. The missions don’t end with a climactic boss fight — they just end. The lack of story or cut scenes makes it really weird when crazed people called the “infected” start running at you out of nowhere. And if you or your partner is killed you may have to wait 10 minutes or more to be reunited at a checkpoint. A mode designed for co-op should really keep people playing together.
Blacklight: Tango Down is a solid, if not particularly inspired, first-person shooter. You’ve played futuristic shooters before, right? What really sells it is the price tag. For $15 bucks you get seven adversarial modes, 12 maps, and four cooperative Black Ops missions. The game also looks nice with a slick sci-fi aesthetic, and the constant reward system will keep you grinding to your next rank. If you fancy shooting people in your games, Blacklight: Tango Down will likely be a fun diversion from whatever AAA shooter you normally play.