It takes a lot for a game to successfully distinguish itself from the crowd. Blacklight: Tango Down to the growing list of promising multiplayer shooters coming to downloadable game portals. If it doesn’t have that one shimmering quality that draws players in right away, the game may as well go straight from the shipping crate to the clearance bin.
Tango Down is a futuristic FPS set in a rundown Eastern European city 25 years in the future. Up to 16 players will be able to join a game on 12 maps. The focus is on a customizable weapon system that doles out upgrades one at a time as players level up. This isn’t a class-based shooter. Rather, Blacklight aims to show off the personal preferences of each player. Basically:
Thirteen scopes + nine stocks + twenty barrels + thirty magazines + over one hundred weapon tags = millions of weapon combinations.
You’ll be able to make some pretty absurd guns, like shotguns with a super scope and two pistol grips. Those weapon tags we mentioned are like the charms you might hang from your cell phone and are apparently used by some real-world special forces members (Although they probably aren’t Hello Kitty charms — but that would be pretty cool!). There are 108 weapon tags in all and each one provides subtle upgrades to your weapon. Every time you level up, a new tag will be randomly selected and given to you. Note that all of this equipment, from scopes to magazines, upgrades your weaponry in some way.
Before you jump into a game, you’ll select your load out. You’ve got your usual array of primary and secondary weapons (assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, pistols, etc.), but you also have primary and secondary equipment. Primary equipment refers to your frag grenades and flash bangs — pretty basic stuff. But you and your enemies are future soldiers, and these primitive tools might not affect you and your fancy pants face masks. The secondary equipment (like EMT Grenades and DigiGrenades) is more interesting and effective. We particularly liked the DigiGrenades, which create a digital bubble on the battlefield that will scramble the view from a player’s mask, rendering anyone blind in its vicinity. Throwing a DigiGrenade at an enemy’s feet and blasting them while they can’t see is great fun.
Each player has a Hyper Reality Visor, or HRV, at their disposal. Turn it on and you can see through walls in order to pinpoint your enemy’s and teammates’ locations. However, you can only use it for a short time and it takes a bit to recharge. Also, you can’t fire while your HRV is turned on. So it’s a very useful tool, but its restrictions keep the game balanced. It’s also a necessity because of the lack of a map.
Although we were playing the PC version we opted to use Xbox 360 controllers, which are more familiar to us, and Blacklight felt great this way. The controls are tight and responsive, and taking an enemy down only requires a few pops from your machine gun. We found the gunplay very satisfying.
The premise here is that the covert military group Blacklight is battling against its evil counterpart, The Order, which is actually made up of former Blacklight members. Both sides have the same abilities so they should be perfectly balanced. Again, the differences in teams will come from how individual players have chosen to customize their load out. There will be a loose storyline tying everything together, but Tango Down is really about jumping right into online multiplayer battles.
We took special note of the music. The glitchy drill and bass reminded us of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, and one of the audio engineers is indeed a drum and bass producer. It definitely helps give the game a futuristic, distorted feel.
Fans of adversarial shooters should definitely keep an eye out for Blacklight: Tango Down this summer. If we had to guess, we’d say it should set you back $15.