So Isotope Toast and myself strapped up last night and checked out the recently released free FPS Blacklight: Retribution on steam from Zombie Studios and Perfect World Entertainment. When I first started the game I was kind of overwhelmed by a bunch of pop-ups that are supposed to be informative, but simply ended up annoying the fuck out of me. By trying to engage the player by offering a plethora of different options, the game ends up over saturating the GUI with blatant attempts of selling premium features, which is a bit annoying. “Oh, that’s cool! Nice, I can customize my character! Wait..no I can’t, I don’t have enough Zen.” or “Awesome! I can customize my voice! Oh wait, now I can’t I need some GP or whatever….”
After getting frustrated with the amount of inaccessible options, we decided to play a game together! So how does one go about playing Blacklight: Retribution with friends? It ain’t easy, I’ll tell you that. I mean, it’s 2012, it should be easy right? Ok, so there’s the ‘social panel’ which shows you your messages and friends etc. You can easily add friends, but what do you do then? You can’t really view their stats, you can’t invite them to a party, and you can’t join their game. Of course you COULD do all of that if you paid for it. Freemium games that make me pay to be able to play with my friends really piss me off. Is the same thing with World of Tanks. A bunch of us tried playing that one night together only to get frustrated and ended up ‘group rage-quitting’ once we realized that we had to pay in order to be able to play with each other. Paying to add friends…what will they think of next?
You have to give Blacklight: Retribution credit, once the game is in fact up and running it’s pretty slick. You can tell that they must have put a lot of effort into the timing. For instance, when you die, the camera pulls out, you’re caught in mid-air usually, and your head has just liquefied from someone’s bolt action rifle. The camera then zooms in on your nemesis, they flip you the bird, and you get a sneak peak to his present location, which may or may not give you a heads-up when you respawn. Putting in killcam emotes is a great idea. It really got to me, and made me want to jump right back into the fray and kick some butt. This whole sequence lasts about 8 seconds and then you see a bit of a countdown before you can spawn back in. Even the spawn mechanics themselves are greatly superior even to Battlefield 3 in my opinion. I’ve died countless deaths in BF3 when the game spawns me right in front of an enemy. In the 4 hours of gameplay that I’ve had, I’ve never one had that happen to me in Blacklight: Retribution; where you always spawn near teammates that aren’t in the middle of a gunfight or you spawn at your base. Ever kill, or ever ‘action’ gives you in-game points that you can use to buy extra ammo, extra health, or unlock the Hard Suit/Mech. Getting the Mech the first time was pretty epic. Luckily I had heard that you need to be careful where you ‘call in’ the mech. Once you unlock it, you get a device that marks a landing zone for your Mech drop. Isotope Toast’s first Mech experience was when he called in the Mech suit and didn’t move out of the way, and the suit essentially crushed him to death on impact. But if you manage to move out of the landing zone in time, you better hurry up and press ‘E’ pronto once that suit touches down, otherwise somebody else can jump in it, and you’re boned. The suit itself is pretty slick. The SFX and physicals feel right (loud and clunky!) and you can use the afterburner to speed up. But watch out, after you use the afterburner, you’re more or less ‘dazed’ for about 2 seconds, and can’t move.
Blacklight: Retribution uses the Unreal Engine 3 game engine. , Unreal Engine 3’s physics engine is powered by NVIDIA’s PhysX, which dynamic provides the fluid simulation and soft body physics. The engine also provides great particle effects, and lighting. At times you’ll be playing and then all of the sudden you’ll be blinded by a ray of sunlight that practically blinds you momentarily, this definitely adds an extra level of immersion.
While Isotope Toast and I were playing last night, we kept on thinking that the filters and even the voices were reminiscent of Half-Life 2. None of the AI barks have any bearing on the gameplay whatsoever, there is no story per-say, but they lend to the overall feeling and immediacy and engagement. The gun SFX weren’t as impressive. Sure, each gun has its own sound, but a lot of the time, the provided SFX made the guns feel ‘cheap’ and ‘plasticy’ I didn’t have a feeling of weight or recoil. Also, no matter where you walk/run the footsteps sound the same and get very repetitive. It could be argued that the SFX for footsteps could be a sped up version of the Mech footsteps. Which brings me to the Mech. The Mech Suit feels like it should, big, bulky and rigid..it’s got all the bells and whistles that you’d expect a Mech suit to have, at least it feels that way. The music is retro-scifi and has a dark Blade Runner-esque feel. The
At the moment there are 7 different multiplayer modes, and they are as follows: death match, team death match, domination, king of the hill, Capture the Flag, Netwar, Kill Confirmed. Definitely enough variation, at least for now.
Well, seeing as if I’ve only been playing a few hours (maaaaaaybe I’ve clocked about 5 hours so far) I’m actually not even sure if I’ve seen all 9 of the maps. Apparently there are other maps that you can either unlock or only access with a premium account.
Developer: Zombie Studios
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment