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Blacklight Retribution is a free to play FPS developed by Zombie Studios and published by Perfect World Entertainment. Blacklight Retribution is a fast paced, adrenaline pumping first person shooter based in a futuristic urban warzone. Building upon Zombie Studios’ predecessor, Tango Down, Blacklight Retribution provides FPS enthusiasts with a massive arsenal of weaponry and gear ranging from bleeding edge side arms to massive mechanized Hardsuits. Customize your weapons and gear for the perfect load out, earn credits in game to change the tide of battle by deploying flame throwers, automatic grenade launchers and even airstrikes.
While it shares some similarities to other games like Combat Arms and Alliance of Valiant Arms, Blacklight Retribution is by no means the same kind of game. Rendered in Unreal Engine 3 and utilizing Direct X 11, Blacklight Retribution brings stunning visuals and effects that few free to play games tend to offer.
Blacklight Retribution contains a in-game based currency called GP, and a premium cash currency called ZEN. Both are used to purchase equipment and other comforts offered by the game. The main thing to remember in this game is that many of the items that you are able to purchase with ZEN will eventually be unlocked as you reach higher levels. Once you reach the required level, those parts can be purchased permanently for a high GP price depending on the part. With the introduction of premade weapons for new players, Blacklight Retribution should not be labeled as another title that is a pay to win model. The reason being is that there is an emphasis on balancing out the in-game economy for equipment while continuing to make a player competitive and not have to spend a lot of time just hording GP for a scope. This is a fact as most pre-made weapons for those new and not into custom weapons can purchase for 250 GP a day. While a player isn’t able to make any modifications, these pre-made weapons make anyone able compete with the big boys without having to resort to using real cash. Like with any FPS, GP can be earned by completing a game.
Customization in Blacklight Retribution can be both a blessing and a curse as there are many options of a weapon that can be changed out. One thing to note about the equipment is that the higher unlocks do not necesarly mean that they are the best. Each piece of equipment has a perk and flaw when it comes to the battlefield in Blacklight Retribution. Such is the case of having a supressor, as it would positively affect your weapon spread but reduce the recoil and damage of your weapon. Having a 4.4x scope would give you the ability to track movement and engage targets at a long distance at the expense of a slower “Aiming Down the Sight” reaction. On the same loadout screen, you can also pick and choose your support equipment. Railguns, Stinger Missiles, and the bi-pedaled Hardsuits are some of the things that you can deploy, but I’ll be covering that in the next segment of this review.
Once you’re finished with the loadout, playing in the field with your configuration is a completely different story. While in most fast paced games, most people would want to bring weapons that have open sights or would allow them to quickly react to someone popping out from a corner. From my experience with Blacklight Retribution, it didn’t seem like I needed to go with iron sights or a red dot to deal with being swarmed. But then again, its my playing style to use my scope for medium to long ranges and to spray at close range. Despite this, I can certainly agree that Blacklight Retribution supports different styles of gameplay since if you’re the kind of person who likes running and gunning, or sniping, you can do that too. Depending on how well you play the objectives, it has its benefits for your team as well. As you’re playing the objective, you have a currency known as CP. All over the different maps, there are supply depots that you can spend your CP on. Depending on the loadout that you chose for on your loadout screen, you can purchase anything from health packs to turrets and even a hardsuit for your team’s final push. Of course, the higher degree of support you’re needing, the higher CP cost it requires. Kills, captures, assists, etc. all contribute to you acquiring CP.
As I stated earlier, Blacklight Retribution is a fast paced first person shooter, and it certainly shows in the gameplay. Feeling like it brings some aspects from Call of Duty and other kinds of similar shooters, moving around in the different environments feel very fluid. In the instances that I would play a couple rounds each night, there wasn’t a moment where there wasn’t a bullet flying towards me or an enemy Hardsuit was terrorizing my team. The maps that the game offers is diverse, as there are plenty of small and large maps for players to frag each other on. Camping is somewhat limited by the presence of the Hyper Reality Visor or HRV for short. The HRV plays a large role for a team mainly for the fact that you are able to track enemy movements as well as any emplacements or traps. The disadvantage in using the HRV is the 1-2 second delay between engaging and disengaging the HRV. Also, in using the HRV, it leaves a player vulnerable to attacks from the rear and the side flanks. The last final detail with the HRV is that you are limited on the time that you are able to use it in combat since it has a recharge time similar to a sprinting bar. This can be effected by what equipment you take into the field, such as lighter armor or equipment that boosts or increases the time for your HRV. Hardsuits in the game may seem like an unstoppable force, but this is countered by heavy weapons and the use of your HRV. What the HRV allows you to see is the randomized weak spot in the Hardsuit’s armor. In hitting that specific spot, the damage is multiplied tenfold as it is possible to one-shot a hardsuit with a stinger anti-armor missile. For the most part, the game is well balanced and more dependent on skill level. This was very apparent as I noticed high level players still ending up on the lower half of the standings while players that may be new to Blacklight Retribution were certainly showing some experience and skill.
While I talked about the gameplay for Blacklight Retribution and some of the things that you can expect, what does this mean for the PC player. For the most part, Blacklight Retribution offers dedicated servers for the regions that they support. This is ran by both Perfect World Entertainment as well as Zombie Studios Currently, they have dedicated servers for the North America/Australia region, as well as Europe. Aside from the general servers that Blacklight Retribution currently has for the moment, they are currently working on making Premium Servers available for players. While there is no information at the moment for how much this will cost the consumer or when it will be available, it does offer a solution for clans to practice in a closed environment. What makes the Premium Server special compared to the regular PWE server is that once players leave the server, it will remain up regardless of player activity. Other features will include bots, specific maps and different game modes as well as having the option of disabling the use of HRV. While this may seem similar to the private servers that PWE offers for free, private servers go down as soon as the creator leaves.
Blacklight Retribution is a first person shooter that is very flexible for the different kinds of styles people play. With Unreal Engine 3 and Direct X 11, the visuals effects are breathtaking as this futuristic shooter is brought to life. With a exceptional amount of customization offered to a player, one can tailor their equipment to their own style of play, offering different combinations rather than being limited by only a few choices. The game stresses balance in both game mechanics as well as the stat changes your equipment brings to the table, leaving it down to skill and a little bit of luck. While Blacklight Retribution with its impressive displays and hectic fighting, is a free to play game, it is a game that is worth trying out.