Editors Note: Though Blacklight: Retribution is currently classified as a “beta” by the developer, the fact that real money purchases are available means that we will be reviewing the game as-is. If the developer is confident enough in the game to take money from players, they should be confident enough in having it reviewed. When the game releases from beta, we will re-review the title.
Blacklight: Retribution made waves is one of the better examples of free-to-play games for the PC, and rightly so; it was one of the first first-person shooters to do free-to-play right. It combined Call of Duty style gameplay with new mechanics in an arena where even the newest player could compete and win. Has this carried over to the PlayStation 4 version of the game?
Old Meets New
The first thing any gamer will recognize is that the game has a definite Call of Duty feel, especially in the way movement and shooting is handled. Players will select a load-out, complete with weapons and perks, and compete in a number of multiplayer modes ranging from Team Deathmatch to Domination. It instantly feels very familiar to anyone who has played a multiplayer shooter in the last five years, but that's not a bad thing; as a new franchise, a feeling of familiarity helps new players feel right at home.
However, Blacklight: Retribution adds a few new mechanics to the gameplay that help it stand out. One such mechanic is the x-ray vision mechanic, seemingly pulled straight from the Arkham series of games. By turning on x-ray vision, you can see through walls and floors, picking out enemies from afar and letting you finally kill that hidden sniper.
Doing well in a match earns you points, which you can spend on in-game purchases such as flamethrowers, rocket launchers and giant robot suits. It's similar to the killstreak system except you're in control of the bonuses you get, as you get to choose what you use your points on. Additionally, the bonuses are a lot more “hands-on” then what you'd find in Call of Duty.
The last major difference in Blacklight: Retribution is the addition of gun parts. Unlike other first-person shooter games, you can customize every single gun in Blacklight: Retribution to your liking. You can change out your scope, butt, add a variety of attachments and more to every single gun in the game. This amount of customization means that no two guns are the same and that every player can create something that fits their playstyle perfectly.
Blacklight: Retribution feels solid and could easily fit into any first-person shooter fan's gaming rotation, which is why it's a shame to see that the online community is not as active as it could be. Sometimes you'll get into a game instantly, other times it may take upwards of five minutes or more. Compare this to Battlefield 4 (when it works) or Call of Duty: Ghosts, where you can usually jump into a match in under a minute. Blacklight: Retribution on the PC is a prime example of a great game you can quickly jump into, play a match and then quit when you only have a few minutes; on the PlayStation 4, those few minutes might be spent just looking for a game.
Many players are also reporting issues of lag within the game; while I never encountered such issues, it is a possibility you may have this same problem so just a heads up.
Free-to-play or pay-to-win?
As a free-to-play game, Blacklight: Retribution does feature a payment system, letting players purchase guns, gun parts, perks and decorative items with real money. Many free-to-play games fall into the trap of forcing players to purchase items to stand a chance; however, Blacklight: Retribution neatly sidesteps this by making even the default weapons and perks able to compete. In Blacklight: Retribution, it's not the weapon that you have, it's the skill behind it – I was able to come in first place a number of times using only the default weapons and perks.
Blacklight: Retribution has two types of currency: GP and Zen. GP is earned by playing, Zen is purchased with real money. While the majority of items can be permanently purchased with GP, some items, like gun parts, can not: a huge change from the PC version. Gun parts can only be purchased with Zen or rented for a few days with GP, a change we hope Zombie Studios will revert back to how it is on the PC version.
GP comes at a slow trickle, and on a quick glance it seems items costs more to purchase with real money on the PS4 than it does on the PC. Zombie Studios states the prices aren't finalized on the PS4, so we hope that they will eventually be reduced.
Continuing with the changes from PC to PS4, Blacklight: Retribution is also missing the co-op mode, Onslaught, on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Zombie Studios says that eventually the PS4 and PC versions will be identical, so it appears this mode will be patched into the game eventually.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
The DualShock 4 works perfectly with Blacklight: Retribution, almost like the game was built for the controller. Sadly, that's the only advantage the PlayStation 4 can claim, as this is one game that is weaker in its PS4 version than alternative ones. The PlayStation 4 version of Blacklight: Retribution looks good, but suffers from graphical glitches, such as texture pop-in, on a regular basis. Couple this with the payment changes and the small player count, and the PS4 version doesn't have much of an advantage over the PC version. This doesn't make it a bad game, and yes, the game is still in “beta” form, but as noted earlier once the developer starts charging real money for in-game purchases it's in a reviewable state.
Even with the odd payment changes and missing modes, Blacklight: Retribution is still worth trying, mostly because of its free status and the overall solid gameplay feel. However, is it worth sinking any money into? In the current state, absolutely not, mostly due to the small player count, the expensive prices and the general bugginess of the game. The game is fun, absolutely, but will it have legs? It's hard to say, especially with PlanetSide 2 looming on the horizon, so Zombie Studios better start making changes and making them quickly.
If you have a PC capable of playing Blacklight, or you're already currently playing it on the PC, the PC is still the definitive system for the game. However, if you've only got a PlayStation 4, Blacklight: Retribution is at least worth a download so you can form your own opinion. It's worth at least a couple of matches.
Final Score: 6/10
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 1/4/2014