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Blacklight: Retribution, a free-to-play first-person shooter, launched side-by-side with the PlayStaiton 4 late last week and, surprisingly, it’s the game I find myself going back to most frequently these past few days.
In case you missed out on my day one covering the launch of the PlayStation 4, the short of it is this: It’s a spiffy piece of hardware that is absolutely brimming with potential, even if only a fraction of it has been realized at this time. After my first evening with the machine, I’ve had the opportunity to play quite a few of the launch games, as well as dive deeper into some of the console’s features. I was most impressed with the video streaming/sharing features, something I had no interest in until it was so readily available directly on the console’s UI. It works extremely well and will perhaps best serve as free advertising for developers, as watching Need for Speed: Rivals for half an hour pretty much sold me a copy of the game.
But while I had dipped into games like Killzone: Shadow Fall, Resogun and the other current free-to-play option, Warframe, the game I find myself most eager to jump back into time and time again is Blacklight: Retribution.
The first time I described Blacklight to someone, I told them it was a “neat no-frills shooter.” I realize now how unfair an assessment of the game that was, as further play has revealed a rather surprising number of “frills” to be discovered.
I think what I meant by that original description was that Blacklight, unlike most modern shooters, doesn’t bother with trying to create an epic single player campaign, deep world history or anything like that. Instead, this game is all about the shooting, and said shooting is all about being fast and fun.
While your starting options are rather limited, you eventually earn enough in-game currency (or you can buy currency from the in-game store with actual money) to spruce things up a bit, including fancy new armor, abilities and weapons.
Multiple game modes are available, including deathmatch, team deathmatch, zone control and capture the flag, to name a few. These are played out across a wide variety of maps that, while not overly impressive, certainly get the job done with enough open spaces, tight alleyways and verticality to keep things fresh.
What makes Blacklight such a blast is the fact that, now that many of the launch kinks have now been worked out, the game is a hell of a lot of fun. You’ve got a ridiculous amount of control on how you, well, control the game, meaning it’s easy to fine-tune the gameplay to your liking. Everything here works well and the game runs smoothly. There are even a couple of surprise systems at play, including the ability to purchase the more impressive firearms on the fly (Including a freaking Mech suit), as well as an x-ray view that instantly shows you where your teammates and enemies are at the press of a button. This particular ability leaves you completely vulnerable while active, takes a while to recharge after use, and serves the purpose of keeping players constantly moving toward each other and that next firefight.
There’s loads of stuff to unlock, support for grouping up with your buddies, an offline practice mode and more, all for no initial cost. You only pay money if you want to speed up some of the game’s systems but, when I’m having this much fun, I don’t mind having to work my way up to the best gear.
But, honestly, I can easily see myself throwing a few dollars into this game from time to time, as it represents exactly the type of free-to-play experience I want to see more of. Offer players a quality, entertaining experience and they’ll be willing to shell out a few bucks for your effort.
Oddly enough, it’s my hectic lifestyle that’s made Blacklight my go-to game on the PS4 so far. Taking on a level in Warframe or Resogun, while short, feels like a longer, more involved undertaking than jumping into a 10-minute deathmatch in Blacklight. And due to its more arcade-friendly nature, I’m more likely to tuck into Blacklight for a few rounds rather than Killzone, a game I feel I need to be in a more “serious” mindset to enjoy.
These aren’t knocks against those other games, all of which I’ve had a blast with since Thursday night. There’s a time and place for each of them in my gaming schedule. It’s just that Blacklight: Retribution is the perfect game to pencil in for a short burst of fun whenever I find myself with a few minutes to spare.