Blacklight: Retribution is a free-to-play, first-person shooter from Zombie Studios for those unaware. It takes place in a futuristic city and features two factions going head to head in various locations in the city. The game has been in beta for several months and managed to be very successful, even then, with its use of micro-transactions. The question, though, is if that success will carry over into full release?
In short, it will. The impressions it has left on me from the first time I played until the latest I’ve played, the latter of which is last night, remain the same. The game handles very much like Call of Duty, but it also has its own unique features like the ability to take a quick glimpse through walls to find enemy soldiers (known as the HRV). It is a great example of a well-made free-to-play game and can easily be seen as the best game to follow that model this year.
The first thing you’ll see when you start Blacklight: Retribution is the “marketplace” and “customization” menus. You can customize your character’s armor, weapons, and other small things such as emblem to your heart’s content. The marketplace is where the micro-transactions take place, and it’s where you will buy all of the items used to customize your character and loadout. You can choose to pay with GP, which is earned as you play, or charge “Zen points” for real money.
Once you’re ready to hop into a match you can either join a random game or choose from a list of available games. Currently there are seven maps and six gametypes, two of which were announced today. Zombie Studios is preparing to add two more maps in a couple of weeks as well. The gametypes are your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination, King of the Hill; while the two new gametypes will be fully detailed later this week.
Graphically this game shows the best of the Unreal Engine. If your gaming rig is top-notch then you will love how this game looks. Each map has its own mood and ambience that makes you feel like you’re on an urban battlefield. The maps are also all different and incorporate different colors and shadows, as opposed to being all brown or gray.
Retribution utilizes an in-game currency system as well, so each kill and assist will give you CP to spend at Supply Depots. These depots are terminals where you can upgrade weapons, replenish ammo and health, and buy the all-powerful Hardsuit mech. The Hardsuit is incredibly strong and game-changing, but it is very well-balanced. Handling isn’t too easy and enemy soldiers can use their HRV to detect weak spots in the suit, which causes ten times normal damage when shot at.
The “pay to win” strategy isn’t really prevalent in Retribution since Zombie Studios did a great job to balance the weapons efficiently. For example: if you prefer a semi-automatic rifle then you can have one, but it isn’t better than all of the other rifles. It is easy to tell that Zombie Studios wants the player to progress in skill as he/she plays more, and one way of doing this is by focusing on getting better with your favorite type of gun as opposed to using over-powered weapons.
Blacklight: Retribution isn’t a perfect game by any means, but it is very consistent. There are some glitches that sometimes show their ugly heads, but the experience manages to remain fast-paced and fun to play. Zombie Studios completely recreated Blacklight: Tango Down from the ground up, addressing user complaints, and managed to create a game that is well deserving of your attention. If they stick to rolling out new maps and gametypes as they have been the last few months, then this game will continue to be successful as the year continues on.