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Blacklight: Retribution Review

Replay Value:
Online Gameplay:
Overall Rating:
Perfect World Entertainment
Zombie Studios
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
November 15, 2013

Okay, so you’re a little strapped for cash after the holidays, and you’ve been considering Zombie Games’ free-to-play Blacklight: Retribution . It’s slick, futuristic, fast-paced and above all else, it'll ideally offer plenty of mindless entertainment for a very low price. However, you’ll only be satisfied if you want nothing more; if you’re looking for some form of next-gen innovation, or a shooter that breaks a few rules and tries new things, you’ll emerge disappointed. You didn’t risk much in the way of cash, thankfully, but even so, there are better games out there.

Visually, the game falls well shy of expectations. The textures are iffy, animations can be all sorts of herky-jerky, and even outdated collision detection issues will crop up during your play time. That’s especially annoying because after all, aren’t we talking about the highly advanced new hardware that is the PlayStation 4…? What happened? It’s not all bad, though; the level design is actually pretty inspired and you can tell the developer put a lot of effort into your detailed surroundings. Blacklight ’s atmosphere is really quite effective. Sadly, depressing glitches are common and can indeed affect the gameplay.

The sound suffers from the same technical instability. The special effects are erratic and even when they’re crisp, they’re relatively underwhelming. The soundtrack is mostly generic, with only a few shining highlights, and there’s a distinct lack of intensity. Crazy fast-paced shooters should be infused with a kickin’ original score that amps up the action, and the combat effects should be spot-on. But Retribution just reeks of a low-budget production, even though it doesn’t necessarily qualify as “low-budget.” It simply doesn’t have the requisite spit and polish we’d want to see. Again, this is all the more pronounced because it’s a PS4 game.

Hey, I like shooters. I really do. I had some fun with the new Blacklight game; it just never coalesced into something gripping. Usually, once you’ve played a good game for an hour or so, you start to become more involved; you’re either emotionally invested in the story or characters, or you’ve become fully immersed in a believable, interesting virtual world (or, in rare cases, both). No such luck here. The second and third hour felt very much like the first, and despite a few alterations from the norm – a hacking mini-game comes to mind – it’s just absurdly repetitive. Shoot that dude…now shoot that dude. Rinse, repeat.

I’m aware that unfortunately, a similar complaint can be applied to any shooter. However, at least other FPS adventures have positive components Blacklight doesn’t: For instance, the production values are typically much higher in titles like Call of Duty , Battlefield and Killzone . Such experiences are also augmented with at least a semi-decent campaign, which Retribution doesn’t have. When you get into the multiplayer nuts and bolts, the effort from Zombie Games does excel in some ways, but it still can’t compare to the deeper, more robust (and more popular) multiplayer entertainment offered by the big boys. Competition matters.