Previews// Blacklight: Tango Down

Posted 12 May 2010 14:16 by
Zombie has big plans for its upcoming first person shooter, Blacklight: Tango Down. With a near-futuristic setting, the game pits players in the centre of what the studio calls “net warfare.”

Technology dictates the shape of the battlefield, and soldiers are equipped with visors and headsets that detail important information on the landscape, as well as the position of your enemies. Similarly, EMP grenades from an opponent can knock out these visors and render the enemy blind. It's this unique element to multiplayer shooters that Zombie is eager to showcase.

But perhaps more important than the game itself is the fact that the developer wants to turn Blacklight: Tango Down into a multimedia franchise. A film is already being produced at Fox Atomic studios, while final preparations are being made to a comic book based on the same futuristic universe.

And despite all of this, the Blacklight: Tango Down computer game is only being made available as a digital download for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and networked PCs. My first thought, given the big push the franchise in general is getting, is why download?

“I really believe in DLC. I think that if you have enough great games on digital platforms, it will get better and more people will push for it,” said Jared Gerritzen, Zombie's lead game designer. “We started to see the success of smaller titles like Trials HD, Castle Crashers and Braid, and thought 'why not do this old-school style, multiplayer-only game and really just focus on this universe we've got?'”

It's true that Blacklight doesn't really contain much of a story, let alone a single-player mode. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the omission devalues the product a little bit – if you want to nurture a huge franchise, you should at least come with a fully-packaged game, right?

But Gerritzen points to games such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare, and suggests that story is very much thrown to the wayside. “How many people still play the single-player mode in those games? How much waste is that? We could have done a story and charged 60 bucks, but I dunno, I guess we're lazy,” he laughs.

Rather than be a little fish in a big sea, it seems that Zombie is gunning for the exact opposite – making big waves in the relatively untested waters of DLC. And it certainly has my attention, with various twists to the FPS genre that work well to equal the balance of power between those who play the game and... campers. I'll say it right now, I hate campers.

Blacklight: Tango Down gets around this issue by introducing the HRV – Hyper Reality Vision. Going back to the idea of “net warfare,” the HRV basically acts as a form of augmented reality that the player can switch on and off to see the exact locations of enemies and objectives. Of course, you can't just run around with this thing turned on; it requires charging so you don't abuse it.

The beauty is that you can hunt down enemies that may be lurking in the labyrinthine maps, only to find that the opponent may be doing the same to you. When I first played the game I was falling to the ground more often than I usually do at various FPS games. Once I started frequent use of the HRV system, it all made sense. Often times, the target had moved to another location by the time I had arrived at their last known spot, which adds a tension and dynamic not felt in many games of this genre.
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DrkStr 12 May 2010 17:26
I know there will be a full retail game on digital download at some point.

Warhawk and Wipeout HD want a word!
MYM 14 May 2010 02:47
Mark my words, this title is going to sell like crazy!
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