Review :: (XBLA) Blacklight: Tango Down

Blacklight: Tango Down

Written by Super User

Published Thursday, 22 July 2010 20:00

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At first glance, Blacklight: Tango Down stands out because of it’s unusually high production value compared to other Xbox LIVE Arcade games. The first-person shooter has its own hook and sports graphics that - while not quite extraordinary - could be confused for a full retail release. It plays fairly well and has plenty of content for a downloadable title. A shooter you can load up and play for 15 minutes sounds great, right? All the elements of success seem accounted for. So why am I having such a hard time recommending it as a purchase?

Blacklight offers both campaign and multiplayer modes, though it’s clear which child is the favorite. A mere 4 “story” missions are available with a 4-player co-op option. Even though each mission can be completed in about 30-45 minutes, it’s suggested you have a buddy with you as a lack of checkpoints can extinguish your will to power through. That’s assuming you care to continue with the uninspired clearing of an area to unlock the next while you shoot at enemies in the distance who occasionally get stuck in corners or don’t acknowledge your presence.

The game further exhibits its lack of polish by making players exit to a menu after failing and forcing a reload of the level. No in-game tutorials left me assuming I had not acquired an ability only to discover it by messing around with the buttons. Thankfully, any actions you take in the campaign will contribute to your progress (in the form of experience points) in the main draw and focus of Blacklight: the multiplayer.

Taking a few cues from Call of Duty, developer Zombie has implemented a reward system for players. By killing enemies and performing certain actions, players accrue points that not only raise their skill level, but unlock new weapons and options. The more experience a player has, the more access they have to better guns or armor which will allow them to customize their player and load-outs.

Players can engage in a respectable number of game-types ranging from standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch to objective-based games like Domination. The catch in Blacklight is that players have limited access to a “Hyper Reality Visor” which allows them to see through walls and determine the positions of enemy and ally units alike. Just pray that nobody is coming around the corner as you do because you’ll be left defenseless. The inclusion of grenades that reset your visor or create digitized domes are also neat takes on familiar features.

The most basic requirement for any multiplayer game to be fun is a lobby full of people to play with. With the Blacklight’s recent release, the playlists aren’t aren’t quite empty, but venturing into some of the objective game-types can result in some unacceptably long wait times. Pair that with an excellent list of releases throughout the Summer of Arcade and beyond, and it’s future doesn’t look like it will hold for very long.


Blacklight: Tango Down has positioned itself in the precarious spot of being an XBLA game that wants to be a full release. I can’t fault Zombie for being ambitious, but this is what ultimately leads to the game’s failures. There is enjoyment to be found in Blacklight, but one question nags your brain as you play. With the likes of Call of Duty, Bad Company 2 and Halo around, “Why would I play Blacklight: Tango Down?” For most people the answer will be, “I wouldn’t.”

The saddest part is the problem could have been solved with the addition of a worthwhile campaign. With any luck, Zombie will remedy the situation with the in-development Blacklight sequel.

+ Impressive graphics for an XBLA title + Lots of options/gameplay modes + Lots of unlockables + Interesting Visor mechanic
- Skimpy on the campaign - Sketchy AI - Lack of direction, tutorials - Will people still be playing this in a few months? Weeks?

Final rating
7.1 / 10
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Game details
(XBLA) Blacklight: Tango Down
Release date : 2010-07-07
Platform :
Publisher : Ignition Entertainment
Developer : Zombie Studios
Gameplay : Action

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