Developers: Zombie Studios
Distributor: Perfect world entertainment
Platform: PC (Steam)
These days Good shooting isn’t enough draw the attention of your audience. You must have an ace up your sleeve to stand out in the massive ocean of carbon copy FPS titles looking for a quick buck, Blacklight Retribution has four. With a free-to-play, micro-transaction system that pairs well with F2P FPS gamestyle and also the game’s complex weapon system.
The game launched over a year ago and unlike other shooters which start to lose their userbase the community is still very active and with the recent plans to introduce the game as a competitive sport in MLG (like FIFA for football) it is bound to grow. The controls are very tight and responsive making handling the variety of guns a pleasure. They also recently introduces a more realistic recoil mechanism and it feels great.
There is no standard map, so expect to learn the layout of the floors to navigate. Instead everyone has a Hyper Reality Visor, or HRV. This allows you to temporarily see through the map and highlighting the enemies, allies and their location. Completely changing the pacing of a fps. You don’t have to wonder before turning a blind corner or searching for enemy to kill, or find the location of objectives. Allowing head-on assault on an enemy’s flag if no one is defending. Now you enable your HRV to plan out your strategy giving Blacklight a layer of tactics not present anywhere else. It takes time to recharge, and you can’t fire while it’s on so you may end up in a position where an enemy comes up in front of you and you can’t save yourself …. So using it becomes a liability.
You get match points for performing objective based actions throughout the entire match, enabling purchase of items from depots scattered around the map. The set of items you take is customizable; meaning you can tailor your items to compliment your playstyle. For instance you can get ammo refills or flamethrowers for cheap or save up for a rocket launcher or a katana, while your most expensive one is a hardsuit. The hardsuit can completely change the game, since it gives a team a mobile heavy weapons. It can be countered through flamethrowers or rocket launchers. Just be careful while you request for a hardsuit drop as it takes time to spawn and if you are shot during it you lose the item and the points. Matches generally end with several hardsuit’s on the field at once and the chaos is amazing.
Modes and maps
There is no single player here. Instead, your free account takes you directly into the game after a brief optional tutorial. There are proving ground servers that only allow players 1 to 10 if you are not comfortable with more experience players. The game modes are straight forward and familiar like team deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill, Kill confirm. The maps are well designed, with plenty of open areas and cramped corridors and vertical variety for a lot of gameplay styles.
Siege is an interesting escort mission where you have to get a tank of sorts to the other side of the match while the other team stops you in a time based game.
Also there has been a giant a recent addition of Onslaught or Zombie mode where a team of 4 players match up against hordes of zombies that run faster than you and swarm you. Then as levels progress opposite factions come in the mix and soon hulk (or really big monster zombies). This allows for cooperative play and gives you rewards and currency. This allows you to get geared up better if you are on a losing spree in pvp. There is currently one pve map with more promised.
The story of the game is set in the near future where a virus has turned the masses into zombies and there are cooperation’s that compete for resources and Intel. The games graphic really bring the story to life, it not only looks great with a solid frame-rate it is also runs on slightly older systems. It has a beautifully aesthetic and artistically there is a lot of varying maps with environmental effects like sun flares, rain. These effects are map locked so a particular map may at dusk noon while other at night. The contrast of indoor whites and outdoor grey’s is really pleasing. The environments ranges from markets filled with neon signs to train stations, high rising skyscrapers and industrial facilities. They look and fell the part. They are a nicely spaced so that you are never too far from the action yet felling like a large open space. Technically, the game has been out for slightly over and year and constant patches has ensured stability and performance. A special mention has to go to the options menu which offers a lot of tweaking to the UI and other settings like scope and toggling scope and HRV etc. The futuristic UI is somewhat crowded and should have been simplified.
The game is supported with micro-transaction’s which you can use for new taunts, weapons, gear. You can customize your character’s appearance, changing out their armour to give them more health but slower running speed. An important factor here is that almost all (not everything though) of the items are side-grades. You gain one stat on the expense of others. This is a great and a fair business model.
There are a very few straight up upgrades, like a certain magazines for your gun or armour with slots for more equipment than the starting items but they don’t break the gameplay and offer a negligible difference due to the rent system. These additional equipment slots include capabilities like revival injector or an extra stun grenade.
The main focus of the customization is the weapon (Since you spend most of the time looking at and shooting your weapon). Instead of giving you standard guns like most games, the game essentially allows you to create your own gun. Every piece affects a number of stats such stamina, how long it takes to scope-in, and your bullet spread, giving you plenty of room to fine tune your playstyle. Gaining points for these upgrades and for the next best piece of gear makes each match feels rewarding. If you are not ready for such customization you can rent a premade gun from the store for in-game credits. It can be rented for 1 day to test out or a week or more. This addresses the balance issue. Since u need one match to get enough credits to rent a gun for a day. If you like it you can rent it further. Acquiring something permanently is a different matter. Most items can be bought up just by playing but it is very expensive. Taking several hours to unlock something your level (you may pay real money to buy them straight up). You contently keep getting rewards from their social programs and levelling up. So expect a lot of variety especially till you find something you feel very comfortable with. I played as a level 8 character against level 30’s and I can assure u, skills are more important here than gear. The game does offers a $20 starter pack on steam and it is well worth it.
The guns and hit effects sound amazing. Sound effects like the static when low on health and footsteps on various surfaces sound different making each step feel its weight. Bullets flying all around and near bullet misses whizzing past while explosions rendering your hearing impaired for some time; they all pull you into this world. The games menu music is very techno and does its job well.
A great competitive shooter that’s fun and unique enough to stand out from the crowd. There is a lot of fun to be had here with or without friends. But be prepared for a lot of grind to unlock items. The reason you may not like it cause of all the changes that it has made to the standard FPS formula with HRV and mech suits. Whereas the immense wealth of gun customization and for those that are looking for more than the average run of the mill modern military shooters would have enough reasons to like it.
- Unique concepts like Hardsuits and HRV vision.
- In-depth customization
- Fair to free players
- Great gameplay and polished graphics
- A lot of grinding for levels and items
- Ping in India (Expect average around 200ms on European servers)
- UI feels clutured
- Graphics: 8/10
- Sound: 8/10
- Unique Selling Proposition: 9/10
- illFactor: 8/10