Zombie Inc. released the futuristic, multiplayer-only FPS Blacklight: Tango Down back in 2010. While the game received a lukewarm response, the developers started work on a sequel. 2 years later, they released the free-to-play Blacklight: Retribution through Perfect World Entertainment. Though it lacks a single player component, the multiplayer’s plot entails that shadowy megacorporations are fighting over the world’s dwindling resources using Agents to do their dirty work.
The game goes beyond the standard FPS with several goodies like HRV (Hyper Reality Vision) which detects enemies and objectives through walls. During combat, the player can spend Combat Points acquired during a match at a Weapons Depot. CP can be exchanged for flamethrowers, rocket launchers, or the favored Hardsuit mech. A deployed Hardsuit can single-handedly change the flow of a battle with its minigun and rocket launchers. As Agents rank up, they gain access to even more Weapons Depot items including air strikes and automatic turrets.
While the game lacks a soundtrack beyond its kick-ass menu theme, the sound effects and radio commands help to immerse players in the dystopian future of BL:R. The game’s color palette pushes urban greys and browns with occasional bursts of color from lights and machines. Despite this, the graphics look brilliant, especially for a free-to-play title.
Players can customize almost any detail of their Agent’s armor and weapons, though less creative players can buy preset customized items if they wish. However, buying these items requires the in-game currencies of Zen and GP. Matches award GP and Zen, but players will need to pay actual money on Perfect World’s website if they want immediate access to these customization options. To take full advantage of BL:R’s customization, players will need to rack up a lot of kills or pay a lot of money.
Fortunately, the game is very generous with free temporary items as an Agent ranks up and both the HRV and the Weapons Depot keep matches fairly balanced, so Blacklight: Retribution is not “pay-to-play.” The game undoubtedly shows off how a PC title can offer gamers a polished, addictive experience and all for free!