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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Ignition Entertainment
Developed By: Zombie
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Players: 1-16
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: Q2 2010
Screenshots: Link
Written By: Cristian Higley

June 16, 2010 - Ignition Entertainment has mostly been known for publishing quirky, strongly Japanese games. So when I heard they were coming with a very western FPS, I took notice. When I heard it would be downloadable, I got interested. Ignition has made a name publishing very stylish, shiny games; not something Iím used to from the downloadable FPS market. Developer Zombieís Blacklight: Tango Down aims to change that.

Set in the not-too-distant future, across 16 multiplayer maps and 7 gameplay modes, including 4 -player co-op, Blacklight is here to grab the shooter fanís attention. On the surface, it plays like just about any modern shooter; press the left stick to sprint, hold the left trigger to aim down your gunís sights, X to reload (I demoed the Xbox 360 version), but Blacklight is bringing a couple new, interesting mechanics to the formula.

The first is the Hyper Reality Visor or HRV. The narrative conceit behind the HRV is that itís a system, available to every player, that accesses every information network in a level; cell-phones, computers, satellites, etc. to feed tactical information back to the user. As a mechanic, this works by tapping the right bumper, which displays an overlay showing you the locations of every other player and item. Basically, it lets you ďseeĒ through walls, across the entire span of the map. Using the HRV disables your ability to fight and only lasts a few seconds, but it can be used an infinite number of times.

I asked more about the HRV, and Ignition feels that it provides an extra layer of accessibility to the game. I agree: Iím not a big competitive shooter guy but I was able to hold my own thanks, in large part, to smart use of the HRV. If I lost sight of an enemy, I could flip on the HRV to see how he was trying to sneak around and get me. Of course, he could do the same, which made for some very interesting games of cat and mouse, with each of us alternating those two roles as our HRVs ran out and recharged.

The all-electronic visor has a downside, however, with the addition of a special, sort-of EMP grenade. When used, the grenade releases a bubble and any player caught in it suffers pixelated vision or, if they caught right in center, a blue screen of death, complete with an ďERRORĒ message. In practice, itís basically your typical flash-bang, but the effect is cool and clever.

The other major draw that Ignition focused on was weapon customization. Basically, they want your weapon in the game to be your avatar, allowing you to customize your gun with tons of combinations of barrels, stocks, scopes, camouflage, etc. Just about anything you want, you can do. A shotgun with a sniper scope? Might be the most effective gun in the world, but if thatís your thing, then go for it!

In addition to the customization options are various charms that can be attached to your gun. These are the equivalent of, for example, a knight tying a maidenís ribbon to his lance for luck, or to win her favor. The soldiers in the game, as with soldiers in real life (Iím told), have charms given to them by wives, girlfriends, daughters, etc. that can be attached to weapons for added effects.

I asked one of the developers if Zombie is at all worried that the customizable weapons and charms could interfere with game balance, as, some would argue, it does for games such as Call of Duty, where the high-level, best-geared players tend to dominate. He assured me that weapon customization isnít a linear, rigid progression from best to worst. Rather, the customization offers differences, rewarding play-style and skill more than simply time invested.

I had a good time with my demo of Blacklight: Tango Down. I feel very confident about it, without the need to add the typical ďitís good...for a downloadable gameĒ apology. Itís polished, feels balanced and, most importantly, I had a lot of fun. Expert it later this summer.

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