When any self-respecting gamer hears the words “free to play” from a development studio they’ve never heard of, there is a distinct tendency to run the other way as fast as possible. In the gaming world, if it’s free, it should be approached with caution and a spam-catcher email address. But one game is seeking to break that mold. That game is “Blacklight: Retribution.”
Developed by Zombie Studios, headed by the bearded and enigmatic “Papa” Jared Gerritzen, “Blacklight: Retribution” seeks to supplant the better-known franchises as a go-to shooter. The free-to-play game is an amalgam of first-person shooter styles, with influences from “Call of Duty,” “Crysis,” and “Team Fortress.” Similarly, “Blacklight: Retribution” is looking to exceed the typical graphics standard of free-to-play games by making use of the Unreal 3 engine.
The exclusively multiplayer game features extreme customization of weapons, skills, and attributes. Want to play as a cloakable heavy machine gunner? Entirely possible. With no set classes, any player can use any gun, with all weapons available to players for free. No pay-to-win here, folks. Skills like invisibility and shield management are unlockable as players level up, and the game’s progression system lends itself well to customization.
“Blacklight: Retribution” also features gametypes both new and old, all of which have yet to get monotonous. In a twist on the Payload gametype from “Team Fortress 2,” “Blacklight: Retribution” players pilot a four-legged mech, complete with turret, while the opposing team tries to obliterate them. After the game’s April 3 release, Zombie has tacked on a clone of MW3’s Kill Confirmed gametype, along with a CTF-control point hybrid called Netwar. Teams compete to capture flags and dominate four control points, all while lugging around flamethrowers and assault rifles. Paired with the Hyper Reality Visor, which allows players to temporarily see through walls, it’s something akin to a “Crysis”-“Team Fortress 2” lovechild. This ability, like most of the game’s features, is available to all players, and doesn’t adversely affect the game’s balance.
On the most basic level, the game’s mechanics are both clean and easy to learn, especially for those familiar with PC first-person shooters. While the animations are at times a bit sluggish, they don’t feel unnatural or out of sorts, which is refreshing amidst the mishmash of horrible free games that the internet has to offer.
While not necessarily revolutionary, as many of its elements are derivative of other games, “Blacklight: Retribution” brings fast-paced first-person shooter gameplay to the free-to-play PC market. For hardcore gamers, it doesn’t have the social features and continual attractiveness of the larger titles, but it is an excellent effort from a small, dynamic studio and is worth the 10-minute download.