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Blacklight Retribution Preview

danielrbischoff By:
PUBLISHER Perfect World 
DEVELOPER Zombie Studios 

Burn him, steal his mech, and then stomp on his teammates.

That was the advice I got from a Blacklight: Retribution developer while I was playing their upcoming free-to-play, first-person shooter. I quickly equipped a flamethrower, burned the pilot of a nearby mech suit alive while he was still in it, and stole it with his teammates watching. The mech's gatling guns could not have perforated my enemies faster.

While I didn't repeat that magical play in my second game of Blacklight: Retribution, it stuck with me throughout the rest of PAX Prime. The thought that a free-to-play shooter could be so fast, strategic, and memorable never occurred to me. Still, here was Perfect World and Zombie Studios inviting gamers to showdown in teams of three.

Cameron Teague of PlayStation Lifestyle, again, manned the machine next to me while another journalist stood with us against the convention goers. At first, Blacklight: Retribution plays like any other shooter. You've got an assault rifle, some grenades, and a pistol to lay waste to your opposition, but as you kill and complete team actions, you gain credits that can be spent at terminals for powered-up weapons or the aforementioned mech-suit.

These powerful tools aren't instantaneous. While you're at a terminal, you're vulnerable to enemy fire. Luckily, you can see through walls, at the expense of your weapon use, to scan your surroundings. Calling down the mech suit in an open area takes a considerably long time, so it's best to communicate with teammates lest you be killed and your suit stolen.

The game has a definitive rock-paper-scisors style dominance to it. The mech suit isn't invulnerable. It turns slowly and specific weapons can penetrate its armor. It has a large amount of health, but a coordinated team can distract it, set it on fire, and steal it for its side. That's how I accomplished the miraculous feat I described in the first paragraph. In fact, I found more success stealing suits than I did calling in my own, but that's just my playstyle.

Blacklight: Retribution is the follow-up to Blacklight: Tango Down, and it shows. The futuristic look and proven combat spell experience, and players can rest assured that newbies and old-hands can enjoy matches together. Gunplay is fast and furious and team coordination is key. Environments are beautifully detailed, but as a free-to-play title, we were assured that Retribution would work on most modern machines.

Perfect World, as is their usual, will be offering a beta before the game is launched, and even after that, this modern shooter will be free-to-play, with micro-transactions paying the bills. Retribution was impressive, inventive, and balanced, all of which the first-person shooter market is prone to miss. Keep an eye out for it in the coming months.
More GR previews for this game:
NetWar and Siege Preview posted on 03/29/12.
Tags:   PAX, PC

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