Blacklight Retribution - PlayStation 4

Release Date:

12 April 2013

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Blacklight: Retribution on the PlayStation 4 is an competitive online multiplayer free to play First Person Shooter featuring unparalleled character customization depth and an innovative gameplay system that allows players to see through walls to make tactical decisions on the fly to keep combat fast and brutal. Guns, gear, and armor can be customized piece by piece to create the perfect loadout.

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'Blacklight: Retribution' is a PlayStation 4 game developed by Zombie Studios and Builder Box Games. The entry was published by Perfect World Entertainment after being developed on the Unreal Engine. The game is a new take in the crowded field of first person shooters and it is an attempt to establish a new IP. This multiplayer shooter did a ton of things well but it also struggled in certain, key areas. Let's take a look at the different elements of the game in order to decide how it should be received going forward.

A CyberPunk Exclusive.

The 'cyberpunk' fandom has been exploding in recent years. Fans of the gritty alt-technology have made sure to get their voices heard in media. 'Retribution' aims to give those fans a game that really caters to their wants and needs. From the weapons that are used all the way to the design of the city that they are used in, the game seeks to stay grounded in those specific roots. For the most part this is a great decision. It adds a unique flavor to what could otherwise be considered a tired out genre. That isn't to say that the game feels completely unique. It is still a first person shooter that is stuck in a crowded field. That being said, let's look at the actual nuts and bolts of the game.

A dated graphical experience.

Developed on the Unreal Engine 3, 'Blacklight: Retribution' never actually shines in a way that most big budged AAA titles end up shining. The game is impressive, especially on the dated graphic engine, and the team at Zombie Studios got as much as possible out of the engine. The game looks alright, with most of the graphics being devoted to darkened cities and nightscape matches. You never quite get up to 1080P and the frame rate never hits that 60FPS mark but it is still passable. Lower quality graphics wouldn't be a huge problem if the team managed to put together a great collection of textures for the game. This, unfortunately, didn't happen. As we alluded to earlier, most of the game is set in the shadows or at night. Dark textures that aren't very detailed begin to mesh together and the whole experience falls flat. There are only so many times you can see the same corridor without wanting to stop running down them altogether. Should this dated graphical feel preclude you from playing the game? Probably not, but does it effect how you will enjoy it? Absolutely.

A snappy, crisp game.

On the other hand, 'Retribution' would never succeed if it were solely a bad game with dated graphics. What the studio did do well was their level design and controls. The six different maps are all well designed and they provide a ton of replayability as you get used to the controls, weapons, and different strategies you can employ. When the death matches are going in full tilt, it is easy to get swept up in the game. The controls are very responsive and your weapons feel great in your hands. You never feel like you are floating through a lesser game, even though the graphical experience might indicate that this is so. It seems like Zombie Studios made the decision to opt for better controls than graphics. We can't fault them for that.

The controls in the game are rather vanilla and you likely won't need to pause to check the instructions very often. The only wrinkle in your inventory of controls is the Hyper Reality Vision mode. This HRV seems ripped strate out of a game like 'Cyrsis' but it does add a nice twist. With the tool you can find your enemies no matter where they are on the map. Sure, it feels cheap. Sure, your opponents will probably complain if you use it a ton. But it helps you get kills and they are what fuel the game. And, strangely enough, kills are what keep you going. The combat in the game is so smooth that you never feel cheated out of life by an annoying accident. You earn each death and kill on your counter. This game isn't going to frustrate you the way 'Call of Duty' or 'Halo' would.

A progressive system.

Much like other online shooters, 'Blacklight: Retribution' makes sure to reward its combatants accordingly. You earn Combat Points for all of the little things that you do during a match. Kills and completed objectives give you these points to spend at the Weapons Depot. You can purchase ammo, new guns, and even consumable health recharges. If you save up your points you can eventually buy a mech, called a Hardsuit. With this you literally become a walking and almost invincible tank like human. You can tip the odds in the favor of your team with a well timed Hardsuit deployment. If you find yourself facing up at one of these giant mechs then you had better have a rocket launcher handy.

A game of skill.

'Blacklight' finally gives gamers what they've always wanted: a medium to test their skill on. You won't find the sloppy death matches that made 'Halo 3' so fun. Nor will you find the cheap deaths that 'Black Ops II' provided. Instead you will find a balanced game that offers you a variety of different ways to climb your way to the top. The different load outs available will set you up for success, depending on your play style. The fun thing here is that you never need to change your load out, not really. If you are skilled with the gun you use then you will succeed, no questions asked.

Though 'Blacklight: Retribution' on the PlayStation 4 lacks the big budget polish of an AAA title, it still offers that polished gameplay. In the crowded field of FPS games, sometimes all we really want is a game that rewards our hard work.

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May 2, 2015

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