So we finally got around to playing the co-op mode in Blacklight: Tango Down, aptly named "Blackops"... In a sentence, this mode simply features four levels - which are each comprised of several versus mode maps expertly sewn together - wherein your mission is to make it from point A to point B. There is no plot to speak of. There are two main types of enemies. There are several checkpoints to resupply. The rest is up to you and your team.
And that’s basically what Blacklight is - a teambuilding excercise. Without an instruction manual or tutorial mode you are thrust into a war-torn landscape with one objective: kill or be killed. It sounds more intense than it really is...but it manages to be hearty fun, and has enough meat on its solid skeleton to satisfy the more hardcore crowd for a while.
Blacklight’s strong visual style is evident straight from the menu interface, and continues well into the deepest parts of the game. Sometimes it’s a little irritating - like the translucent hex pattern gracing the edges of the screen - but for the most part it really sets the game apart. What unfortunately doesn’t put Blacklight on a pedestal is its controls, which felt splashy and loose no matter how we adjusted them; the controls aren’t game-breaking - it just takes getting used to. Precision aiming is provided via the left trigger, and although it’s not true “iron sights”, movement is appropriately slowed and accuracy increased. Instead of filling your screen with a static gun image, Zombie Studios went halfway: your viewing area is zoomed, and your gun aligns to the center, but your visibility is not further hindered.
Blacklight was built using the Unreal engine, so other than the unique visual style you’ll find everything you’d expect. This means that a “jump” button is standard, as well as great lighting effects and solid network coding (only twice in three 20-minute sessions did I see anyone popping around).
On to the guns... Zombie Studios championed Blacklight’s weapon customization system, and it doesn’t disappoint. Each base gun model is a hybrid of today’s popular tools of death. Although not instantly recognizable, they each have a familiar quality to them. Playing any mode will grant you experience points, which unlock ranks, which in turn unlock outfits, camouflage, guns, and gun accessories. Customization works almost exactly like Army of Two: The 40th Day. Shunning the traditional manliness of shooter games, however, Blacklight features the ability to add one of over 100 dangling charm items to your main weapon. We learned during our first playthrough that each charm has a subtle effect on gameplay (such as faster healing, better accuracy, etc).
I’m sad to say that Blacklight: Tango Down left me wanting in the co-op department. We had a lot of fun playing with four players; I even thoroughly enjoyed spectating when I was waiting for a checkpoint to respawn at. But the game seriously nerfs any XP earned in Blackops, it has no cutscenes nor tutorial mode to give you a hint of what’s going on (I learned more from chatting for five minutes with experienced players than I had in two hours of solitary play time), and worst of all: there is no co-op matchmaking nor splitscreen.
Fifteen dollars is a bombastic price for a game that works really well and is pretty darn fun to play. I can’t complain about a lack of value. For my limited time, however, it’s a hard case justifying the outdated manual search for someone to play with...especially with only four extremely linear levels to play over and over again.