First, some disclaimers: This is only for the single player missions. I haven't (and may not) venture forth onto Xbox Live for competitive multiplayer. My patience for the teabagging Timmies is at an all-time low. Also, I only successfully finished one of the levels so far – but more of that below.
I played a bit of Blacklight: Tango Down single player today, and I came away pretty impressed. For a game which only costs $15 and weighs in at around 700 mb as an Xbox Live Arcade download, it looks pretty damn good and it plays pretty damn well. The graphics, tho not on a par with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, exploits the Unreal engine to the max for such a lightweight game. I found the weapon POVs to look especially realistic. Blacklight: Tango Down also boasts superior audio. The sound effects are excellent. The weapon sounds have a punch to them that many other, more expensive FPSes lack. I particularly like the sidearm sound effect. It just sounds powerful.
The Blacklight equivalent of a Red Key Card
The single player gameplay is typical FPS fare: Get orders to go somewhere and do something, kill some bad guys, unlock a door, kill some more bad guys, unlock the next door, pick up an item to plug it into a console while killing bad guys along the way... Not exactly innovative, but at least a known quantity. Except, the devs made the door unlocks a minigame where you execute the Simon-like task of replicating sound tones using the XYBA buttons... No, really. Look at this:
The Simon game of the near future Russia...
Another one is moving a triangle with the D-pad along a series of bars with other triangles moving back and forth. No, really. Where every other FPS in the known universe would just have your just hold down "X" till the task is done, Zombie Studios decided to get fancy. Best of all, screw up in any way and you get to start the whole unlock thing all over again, just like when you get killed on a Black Ops mission...
Let's play move the triangles... Ready? Go!
It's difficult to see why this was done. In earlier CoD games, there were minigames like this. They had wrestling matches with enemy AI where you had to mash the "X" button for 10 minutes or you'd get a Nazi bayonet in the scrotum. And I hate that shit. It was annoying, tiring to my thumb, and it took me right out of the goddamn game instantly.
Even in near future burned out Russian cities, you can get Dominos... but you have to pick them up.
Instead of the commonly used regnerating health mechanic, the Zombie Studios devs used a combination of a partial regen and health packs. The health packs, which look like the red insulated pizza carriers from Dominos Pizza, which are found individually lying around, instantly restore your health to the default 175 point max. If you don't have health packs around, you seem to regen health to the last point where you took some real damage. (I was stuck on 88 points in some fairly long stretches of the levels; that seems to be a hard-coded point in the game. At 88 points, if you take a few bullets, you can just wait and regen to 88 points of use the visor to boost back to 88.) There are open crates of the Dominos Health Pies where you can just hover and pick up continuous health. (The game makes a cute ch-ching! sound as the health points clock up to your max.) Using the Hyper Reality Visor also helps restore your health to that magic 88 point level, or whatever lower number your health was down to.
It's the Crate o' Health! Ch-ching!
Interesting piece of equipment that Hyper Reality Visor. It can spot enemies, ammo crates, health locations. It also seemed to me that the enemy seemed pretty frackin' pyschic about when I was using it, choosing that moment to swarm all over my ass. There's a lag, intentional or not, after you stop using the visor and when you can use your weapon. Even after the visor is out of your POV, you sometimes will fruitlessly yank on the fire trigger without effect while some infected or Order flunky is pounding you.
Weapon loadouts are in several classes: Sniper, Assault Rifle (of which there are two, differing only in attachments) and SMG. The weapon loadouts follow the CoD pattern: Primary and Secondary for both projectile and explosive weapons. Unfortunately, you can't carry two primary weapons. Trying to swap your sidearm for a fallen enemy's primary will only make you drop your own primary in its place. Likewise, you can carry a frag and one specialty grenade – like the EMP-type that scrambles the enemy visors (and your own), preventing them from seeing your heat signature with it. It looks like there might be unlocks for the weapons in campaign mode, but I've no clue how to go about unlocking them – except by sucking a lot less than I have been at the SP mode of the game.
The weapons, at least the ones I've played with so far, are detailed and badass looking. As mentioned before, the sound effects for them are impressive. Only having sampled a few of the weapons, I can't be overly critical. The iron sights have an aiming reticle above them; in the few instances where I picked up an enemy's scoped weapon, I instantly regretted it. I found the use of the aiming dot both blocks your peripheral vision and makes it difficult to target moving enemies. I'll stick with the iron sights.
I wish, tho, that the weapons would stick around longer before disappearing. A few times, weapons dropped by fallen enemies winked out of sight before I could pick them up. Ammo is either scrounged from fallen weapons or from crates similar to the health crate. Playing on normal difficulty, the game is annoying to play solo, but it feels like it would be a blast to play in co-op mode.
The enemy opponents on Normal mode do like to scoot and shoot. They strafe back and forth, guns blasting away at you. The threat levels are a nice mix, with shotguns, SMGs, ARs, and LMGs. The AI is somewhat sketchy, tho. Some enemies will stand stock still in direct line of sight, other times they do the 'dog pile on the rabbit' thing and swarm all over you. But that's no different than CoD in that respect. Another similarity in the game is how the game kinda cheats. Enemies that were not visible with the Hyper Reality Visor suddenly appear out of nowhere; and enemies miraculously spawn in your hip pocket, just in time to give you a Hyper Reality schwanz in your ass. Some enemies – like the Infected, who sometimes wield automatic weapons but are usually content just to cudgel your ass – exist only to be bullet-sponges and soften you up for enemies who are lurking just out of range of your visor.