Updated Wed, Apr 11, 2012 by Shayalyn
I’m never been much of a hardcore shooters gamer, so I’ll state this for the record: my opinion is that of someone who hasn’t logged hours and hours of FPS gameplay. But Blacklight Retribution, the near future military shooter by Zombie Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, looked promising, so I downloaded the game and dove in. As it turns out, Blacklight Retribution surprised me. Read on!
Blacklight Retribution isn’t what you expect from a free-to-play first-person shooter…and that’s a good thing. Sure, you’ll experience quintessential FPS modes such as capture the flag, death match, team death match and king of the hill. Yes, you’ll be able to buy items, either with real or in-game currency, for certain amounts of time ranging from one day to permanent. But what other free-to-play FPSs don’t routinely offer is complete and total customization of your guns and armor. And there are mechs--hulking, menacing, full-of-win badass mechs with mini guns and rail guns for blowing up those pesky peons who keep shooting at you. (Really, what is their problem?)
When I first came into some in-game cash, I wasted vast amounts of time tricking out my character. Not only could I edit her armor (with changing stats for each piece) but I could alter every characteristic of my weapon. And that’s fun.
All guns are broken down into 7 components: Receiver (which changes the overall type of gun your character is using), muzzle, barrel, magazine (which includes ammo upgrades that can give you exploding rounds), scopes, weapon tags (which are like key chain bobbles for your gun), and camo. Bobbles and camo are, of course, purely cosmetic, but combined with the other 5 customization options they virtually ensure that, if you take the time to customize the gun you start with, you’ll have a unique and serviceable weapon.
If customizing guns isn’t really your thing, fear not--you can purchase pre-made guns in the item shop using some of your hard-earned real world cash.
You can also customize your character’s armor by changing your helmet, upper body armor, lower body armor, and then add cosmetic items like trophies (badges you earn by completing certain achievements) and camo (changes the overall color scheme of your character’s items). You can further specialize your character by giving them equipment that include things like health kits, turrets, repair kits (for fixing turrets and mechs), stealth cloaks and riot shields. You can also change the voice of the game’s announcer as well as the voice of your own character. You can also unlock and purchase various taunts for your character to use when pwning noobs. (And you get to hear theirs when they’re pwning you.)
Another great feature of Blacklight Retribution is the ability to craft buffs for your character. These character buffs come in the form of nodes which you attach to various node slots. You earn nodes of various ranks by completing matches. You can combine nodes using fusion to make stronger nodes of higher rank or with a longer use time. These nodes add effects that range from extra resistance to certain types of damage to increasing the amount of in-game currency awarded for a match.
One of the best features of Blacklight Retribution is the weapons depot. Throughout battles your character is constantly awarded CP, or Combat Points (not to be mistaken for GP, or Gold Points, which are used in purchasing customization options out of combat), for doing various things throughout a match such as killing an opponent or even watching someone else kill an opponent. You also gain CP for taking down players that have been kicking major ass. The top rated player at any given time is given the title of Warlord. Killing this player will award a larger bonus to your overall score for the match as well as additional CP, but don’t worry if you can’t take him out--as long as you’re involved in the action you’re earning CP. You can spend your CP at combat depots spread throughout the map, which are stocked by the player character with their unlocked combat depot items in the customization menu. These items can be simple things like health restoration and ammo, which are relatively cheap, to more expensive and hard-earned heavy weaponry like mini-guns and flame throwers. Items also include the mech I mentioned earlier, the Hardsuit.
The Hardsuit comes equipped with a mini-gun and a rail gun for blowing away tiny foot-soldiers as they run in fear as well as rocket boosters for closing the gap between your foes. The Hardsuit is also heavily armored and takes a lot of fire power to bring down. (For this reason, it’s not a frivolous purchase at the weapon depot.) Is the Hardsuit overpowered? It’s a fair question. It would be, except that the Hardsuit comes with a randomly generated weak-spot that other players can detect using their HRV (Hyper Reality Vision). This weak spot will take ten times more damage then any other part of the Hardsuit giving tactical players a fair chance to take down the player using the Hardsuit. If you feel incredibly gutsy you can also pick up a flamethrower from one of the weapons depots spread throughout the map and use it to burn out the pilot of the Hardsuit and take it for your own.
Another innovative and cool feature Blacklight Retribution introduces is the aforementioned HRV, which not only allows you to see all other players on the map, but allows you to see their health and their kill-streak, giving you an idea of how much CP a certain player is worth upon death so you can assassinate the better character to earn more CP. The HRV’s usefulness doesn't stop there; it also allows players to view turrets and mines wherever they may be hidden, as well as pointing out the weak points of a Hardsuit as I mentioned earlier. Sound overpowered? It sidesteps that by having a short duration, followed by a recharge time. You also can't sprint or fire your weapon while it's active. The HRV is a tool you'll need in your arsenal if you play to win.
Blacklight Retribution boasts some great features that FPS gamers should embrace.
The graphics in Blacklight Retribution are notch above average for what you might expect from a game of its ilk. Armor and weapons look better in menus than they do in the actual game, and special effects like explosions are sometimes a little underwhelming. Overall, everything looks respectable and should satisfy all but the most hardened graphics whore.
There’s nothing related to Blacklight Retribution’s sound that will blow you away--it does the job. I found the music a little uninspiring, but music isn’t really the focus in a game like this. You’re more likely to be kicking ass to the tune of your favorite MP3s with the sound of weapons fire providing a nice soothing, ambient backdrop. (That is, if weapons fire calms your nerves.)