PRICE: $14.99
DEVELOPER: Zombie Studios

Arriving earlier in the summer for the 360 and PC, Blacklight: Tango Down foxtrotted its way into the Playstation Store on October 26th. For only15 bucks, this download-only title offers up a broad suite of multiplayer options, including class-based deathmatch, team deathmatch, command point, and even a co-op story mode. B:TD stands out by equipping combatants with a Hyper Reality Visor (HRV), letting the player see through solid objects, and digi-bombs, which cause opponents’ visors to glitch.

Set in a gritty, oppressively gunmetal-colored landscape, Blacklight: Tango Down boasts a more realistic take on sci-fi shootouts. There’s also some player customization with 70 levels to unlock and various weapon upgrades to collect.

The Pitch 

“I am deleting this game from my hard drive immediately. Toodle-oo, fa**ots.” 
                                    -Heard within four minutes of my first Team Deathmatch

The game’s “digi-bomb,” a.k.a. Tango Down’s Syndrome

The Play

First, the good news. Even for a shooter with an awfully generic name*, Blacklight: Tango Down is cheap. Accounting for every feature, there’s not much that can compete with it at the $15 price point. And if you end up liking Tango Down, you’ll be pleased to learn about Zombie Studios’ plans for a sequel, comic book trilogy, and movie.

Blacksite: Delta Rising is also a basically functional game. You’ll spend lots of time waiting in lobbies, but the inputs and outputs are more or less what you’d expect from a standard, retail multiplayer title. The customization features are ample, and are on par with what you’d get in a modern FPS.

I have nothing good left to say about this game. 

Sadly, Blackops: Omega Origins is just as bland as its title. Marketing material insists that it’s “tomorrow’s war… today,” with a focus on theoretically real military tech and gritty realism. Judging by the final product, this implies that future warfare will take place mostly in the 2003 movie Underworld, and certainly won’t be any fun – which puts it in the running for “most realistic war game ever,” for better or worse. The maps are all waste bins of blue-gray, undifferentiated cement structures and alleyways. Consider it a blessing that you won’t be doing much exploring, since one-hit kills and fixed spawn points mean that you’ll only be running a few steps outside of home base at a time. Hooray, realism!

Take a break from the fight and sample some tasty CBEKEE MR¢O

Here’s a quick narrative of my first twenty minutes with the game: after waiting far too long in a lobby for my first Team Deathmatch, I’m dropped into what looks like a cheap Blade Runner cash-in alongside a crew of very confused teammates. As I’m checking my bearings, the portion of the map in front of me explodes in a pixelated, glitchy mess. This was my intro to the digi-bomb, Blacklight’s tech disruptor grenade that interferes with the player’s HUD. In theory, this is a clever way to augment gameplay in favor of stealth. In practice, it makes an ugly game even uglier. They should have named it the 1996 bomb, because it makes everything on screen look very Playstation One. This wouldn’t be a big deal if people weren’t constantly spamming this nonsense all across the map.

Dismayed at this unpleasant development, I continued around the corner, only to be one-shotted by a guy with a SMG. This brings me to Blackteam: Romeo Ops‘ other nightmare: fixed spawn points. Since players all spawn from the same spot, camping is encouraged and rewarded. This makes for miserable gameplay, so it’s even worse that weapons like the SMG and assault rifle can take out a player in only a few shots. These problems plague every competitive multiplayer mode, from the deathmatch to control point to team.

But what about co-op? If there’s any single player meat here, it’s nestled in the co-op campaigns. The very flimsy story follows the eponymous Tango team as they strike back against the mysterious Order. It’s a Left 4 Dead style four player co-op mode without any frills, up to and including zombie attacks. Co-op is invite only, which means that you’ll have to convince a friend to download the game before giving them a spin. If you value your friendships, I advise against this. You can run through them solo, but you won’t make it past the first few minutes. You can ignore this mode.

The game’s lush vistas evoke Néstor Almendros

The Replay

Since there’s no real single player mode, Blackwar: Blood Echo needs to subsist entirely on competitive multiplayer replay. If you head back into a match on purpose after giving it a fair shot, you’re just a glutton for punishment.

The Verdict

The worst part about Blacksmoke: Project Killstrike? It’s all in the design. The nuts and bolts of the game engine, especially the hearty weapon customization options, would have served better level design and a more meaningful co-op experience admirably. If return on investment is your main judging criteria for making a game purchase, the budget price tag may sway you to take a risk.

Don’t. Save up your money, or find a good deal on an older AAA title.

The best thing we can say about this is that it’s functional and cheap. Much like the realistic warfare Blacklight tries to emulate, it’s just as hard to come back to this fight after a brief tour.

4 out of 10

*Games have awful names