Blacklight: Tango Down is an ambitious first person shooter from developer Zombie Studios. With a futuristic theme and more weapon and player customizations than you can shake a stick at, Blacklight: Tango Down offers an expansive multiplayer suite at an extremely low price point. While the competitive multiplayer is a blast, some technical issues do work to hinder the experience.
Story is not at the forefront of Blacklight: Tango Down. A single player “Black Ops” mode is available, but there is no narrative to follow. The “Black Ops” mode is reminiscent of the co-operative mode available in games such as Resistance 2. On the PlayStation 3, I was unable to get the “Black Ops” mode multiplayer to function successfully, and it appeared that only friends could be invited to a game. I attempted to play through a few of the “Black Ops” missions solo, but each death reset the mission and without help that makes it terribly difficult. It’s clear that these missions are designed exclusively for multiplayer. The missions do include interesting mini-games involving hacking gates and disabling devices, which is an interesting change of pace.
Where Blacklight: Tango Down really shines is in its competitive multiplayer modes. These include standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, domination, detonation, retrieval, and last man standing. Most of these modes are self explanatory, but for those that aren’t, domination involves teams gaining and holding control of various points on the map, detonation involves planting a bomb in the opposing teams base, and retrieval is a standard capture the flag mode. All the modes are designed well and there is enough variety to keep multiplayer fresh no matter what mode the player chooses.
There are two factions within the game. The first is Blacklight, a U.S. special forces group donning black armor with blue highlights. The other is The Order, a group of former U.S. special forces and local militia who wear orange and black armor. There are no real gameplay difference between factions, and players can change factions on a per match basis.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Blacklight: Tango Down is the player and weapon customization system. Players unlock new armor, weapons, colors, and weapon modifications by reaching the requisite player rank. There are a ton of weapon modifications to unlock for every weapon type. Said types include sub machine guns, light machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles. Each weapon can be fitted with custom barrels, sights, stocks, and ammunition clips that alter the weapons stats and player mobility. Players can also unlock weapon tags which are basically key chains that hangs off the side of each gun and also effect the weapon statistics.
The weapons work well but don’t feel as realistic as the ones you might find in Call of Duty. The variation in weapon scopes is very cool with some sporting futuristic holograms and useful dot sights. With so many options, players should be able to get exactly what they want out of each weapon type. My biggest complaint regarding the available weapons lies with the sniper rifle. The gun simply feels underpowered and has an extremely slow fire rate, generally requiring perfect precision to pull off a one-hit kill headshot. It seems as though others feel the same way as I haven’t run into many players that use the sniper rifle as their go to weapon.
Each player is equipped with a Hyper Reality Visor that displays the location of friends, enemies, and supply stations for a limited amount of time. While the visor is active, players are unable to fire their weapons, but the visor can be deactivated at any time. It’s a great tool to use after a spawn to determine where the action is happening, or if you need to find additional health or ammo. There are a few grenade types that include the standard digital (smoke) grenade, a proximity mine, or an EMP grenade that scrambles enemy HRVs.
In my time with the PlayStation 3 version of Blacklight: Tango Down, I experienced quite a few network and loading issues. Frequently when attempting to join a team deathmatch game, the game would freeze at the loading screen forcing a restart of the game and in some cases a restart of the entire PS3 system. Network lag was an issue in some games but non-existent in others, leading to an inconsistent play experience. The games are hosted by individual players and not dedicated servers, so occasionally the action will be interrupted by a host migration, but it’s better than a full on disconnect.
At it’s best, Blacklight: Tango Down holds it’s own against contenders like Killzone and Halo, with gameplay that feels like a good mix of the two. Players are given plenty of customization choices to match their play style, and each game mode is balanced well. For gamers who are strapped for cash but still want a fully featured multiplayer FPS, Blacklight: Tango Down is right up their alley.