Blacklight: Tango Down Hands-on Preview

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: Summer 2010

The first thought we had when we sat down to play the preview build of Zombie’s Blacklight: Tango Down was along the lines of “Oh, another samey, brown, modern day shooter.”.

Later that day, after presentations from the developer and several multiplayer matches that saw us fiddling with nearly every feature the game had to offer, we left thinking only “Yep, just as we thought”.

Blacklight: Tango Down’s problem is primarily the choice of setting – abandoned, semi-bombed rooftops and buildings sound good on paper because they’re very vogue and it's easy to feel every game is following that style. The problem is that while most games with generic settings manage to gain distinction in other areas, Blacklight doesn’t. It’s a multiplayer shooter and the levels aren’t unique or even really all that good. Oh dear.

*Blacklight: Tango Down Hands-on Preview Blacklight: Tango Down Hands-on Preview
In the future, all soldiers will well irremovable helmets that make them look like pillocks

Part of us thinks that the developer, Zombie Studios, knows this too and has tried to compensate by adding in outrageous new features to attract attention – the main one of which is a high-tech visor through which players see the game. It’s this visor which supposedly supplies your HUD, as well as a few other advantages, but mainly it just squirbles with static. When ever you jump from a height, bump into a surface or take a bullet hit then a ripple of fake white noise goes across part of the screen.

Personally, we just found it flat-out annoying and within five minutes of playing we were searching for a button to remove the visor and rely on our eyes instead. It’s not as if the enemy is invisible or anything, so they’re no harder to spot than in any other game…

The visor idea does at least bring one new feature with it though – a ‘legal wallhack’, to use the developer’s words. At a button press you can enable a kind of X-ray vision that lets you see through walls and see every single enemy on the level, allowing you to line up your shots before your foe comes bounding around the corner. It turns everyone on the level into a fish in a barrel, potentially and to many gamers may fundamentally break any challenge that Blacklight: Tango Down might otherwise present.

*Blacklight: Tango Down Hands-on Preview Blacklight: Tango Down Hands-on Preview
Those guns might shoot purple fire, but they have a very short range

There are limits to the wallhacking ability though – it takes time to charge up, you can’t keep it on for more than a minute or so and you move a bit more slowly when it’s turned on. You can’t shoot either, which kind of negates the point. At the end of the day though, it still breaks the game and while the developer might claim there’s an extra layer of tactical thinking piled on when you’re forced to consider that you could be spotted at any time, that’s a load of rubbish.

Tactically speaking, this legalised wallhack doesn’t bring anything to the game whatsoever because there’s no counter to it. You’ll either be shot when you go around the corner, or you won’t. There’s no way to mask yourself from x-ray eyes if you suspect you’re being spied on, so there’s no defence other than to turn on your own cheat-o-vision and see if someone’s there or not, then shoot them if you can. There’s no thinking opened up by this feature, in other words. You either use it and have an unfair advantage, or you play fair – or at least that’s how it feels to us.
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