Blacklight: Retribution Review
Blacklight: Retribution is a bit tricky.
It’s an obviously great-looking multiplayer shooter that is, admittedly, something of a rarity – a free-to-play shooter that aims to stay accessible to players of all skill levels.
On paper, it’s a simple shooter akin to Call of Duty, Battlefield, or just about any other “modern” warfare contender out there, with sprinkles of genius like mechs and Batman: Arkham Asylum-tinged modes that allow players to see through solid objects.
But fancy dressings aren’t everything.
Is Blacklight: Retribution Next-Gen?
Scratch the surface and you’ll discover that just beneath its deceptively shiny surface is a bullet hole-ridden experience that lacks polish where it counts, instead brimming with frustratingly slow level progression and an overabundance of pay requirements that you probably won’t want to delve into.
Chances are you’ve already played what this game has to offer elsewhere, and probably – despite its F2P status – for less money.
Still, for fragging your friends in style, you’d be hard-pressed to find a good starting point for your budding PS4 library.
A hearty number of game-types ensure that no matter the intent of the player, their specific play style has a place to flourish.
Still, even if you feel at home in a typical deathmatch or modes akin to Sabotage or Domination, it’s prudent to purchase upgrades and grind out experience, which in turn means better munitions and armor.
And you’ll need both if you expect to live for very long because you’ll be dying. Fast.
Free-To-Play Or Pay-To-Win?
Even if you don’t load up and roll out, you’ll still die often. Test plays found lag to be a significant factor in many painful deaths, even though peppering other players with ludicrous amounts of bullets was the strategy of the day.
The hyper reality visor, or HRV, which gives players the ability to see through walls and act essentially as a one-man UAV, tracking the electronics on others, is cumbersome – annoying, even, when others can locate you so easily.
However, grenades that serve as barriers to said visor offer an interesting twist. Get the other player before they get you.
There’s something very palatable about this mindset, and it’s easy to like Blacklight: Retribution for it. Don’t think, shoot – unless that doesn’t work, and then outsmart your opponents.
The meat of the game lies within its item shop, where you’ll be poked and prodded to spend real-world cash to customise your loadouts to an acceptable level that won’t leave you reeling after each match, moping about the fact that your opponents simply have the better gear.
That’s where the glossy mask slips, and you realize that real-world cash may not be viable for an experience that’s built around how much money you can drop on each purchase at a time.
You need a nearly exorbitant amount of XP to progress, and while there are short rental periods to try before you buy, there’s too much of a risk involved with how much money you need to spend potentially before deciding you’re satisfied with the gear you’ve chosen.
Blacklight: Retribution Review
Blacklight: Retribution isn’t a shooter that’s difficult to recommend if you’ve already collected any number of first-person shooters, as it fits comfortably within the genre.
It isn’t so much a bad game as a generic one that asks players to shell out more cash than they’re comfortable with, though it’s hard to fault developer Zombie Studios ambitions for creating a F2P shooter that falls to the same pitfalls as its mobile brethren: they need to make a return on this game, after all.
The idea underscores the main problem with the game itself: why settle for a budget version when you could secure an infinitely deeper and more complete experience in a big-box release that allows you to progress naturally without spending extra cash?
It’s a question you’ll likely be pondering yourself the next time a bullet sets up camp in your soldier’s head: ‘you know, this is slick and all, but wouldn’t my money be better spent on Killzone or something-or-other?’