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Review

Blacklight: Retribution Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4

Pay to pew-pew.

Beneath the neon-bathed futuristic sheen and jagged dubstep warble of Blacklight: Retribution's cyberpunk vibe lies a shooter that plays it too safe for its own good. Minor excitements such as a mech-like robo suit, a flamethrower, and hacking minigames don't tip the scale far enough into innovative territory to round out the standard trigger-happy action on tap here. Every so often, the fast-paced running and gunning hits a high point, when the sprawling industrial maps are filled with warm bodies to blast. This free-to-play online shooter initially proves to be an enticing option on the PlayStation 4 if you're looking for multiplayer mayhem on the cheap, but getting permanent access to Retribution's coolest high-tech killing gadgets can take a punishing toll on your wallet.

When it comes to delivering basic bullet-flinging fun, Retribution gets the job done decently. Matches move along at a speedy pace, with only a few seconds passing between kills and respawns. The Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes are rounded out by familiar Capture the Flag, Kill Confirmed, and Domination offerings. Perhaps the most unique of the bunch, the latter puts a fun techie spin on point capturing by having you hack nodes with a timed numbers matching game--a frantic and amusing exercise in concentrating under pressure when there's a firefight erupting all around you. When everything clicks in a given match, the momentum of battle can be intensely absorbing, even if there's not a lot of wow factor.

With a few unpleasant quirks, some missing features, and a borderline draconian pricing model, it's hardly a must-have shooter for kicking off the new wave of current-gen gaming.

The gritty urban battlefields you shoot it out across have lots of sneaky nooks and crannies to use to your advantage, and the grim atmospheric scenery is beautifully detailed in spots. That said, Blacklight: Retribution is not a shining showcase for the capabilities of Sony's hardware. Texture pop-in on characters and weaponry is noticeable, though it doesn't pose a major problem when you're barreling down hallways and spraying lead in all directions. Death animations, in particular, are janky and inconsistent at best. You tend to either wind up hovering in the air with limbs splayed all akimbo or not reacting at all to the fact that you've just been shot in the face. Other rough spots, such as glitchy walls you can walk through and the omission of the co-op Onslaught mode found in the PC version, make Retribution on the PS4 a clear work in progress.

Diving into the action is usually quick and painless, except when it isn't. Playing Retribution on the PS4 means occasionally suffering through agonizing waits to find a game in progress. At times, the player base is anemic. I've regularly been stuck fiddling around for several minutes at a clip waiting for a quick match search to drop me into an active game, only to have to back out and try again. That's aggravating when you just want to get to the good stuff. Once you're in, however, you can stick with the group you're playing with for faster access to repeated matches. But even then, there is no guarantee you'll be fighting against more than a small handful of opponents. Retribution's straightforward combat is at its best when you've got a map full of players locked and loaded to face off against. It's a shame that's such a rarity at the moment.

Blacklight: Retribution looks nice enough, but it by no means ushers in the next console graphics revolution.

The coolest combat elements arise from Retribution's futuristic trappings. Most notable is a sweet visor that lets you scan through walls to spot enemies. It takes a few moment to disengage, however, and that delayed timing gets you killed if you suddenly find yourself face-to-face with an opponent while using the visor. Points you earn in battle can be spent on the sluggish but brutal hard suit--a mech-like contraption you can hop into that's heavily armed and a thrill to thunder across maps with. It's not an instant win button, though. This beast is weak against flamethrowers and rocket launchers, which are among the other fun CP purchases at your disposal. This in-match spending system is separate from the accumulated virtual currency and the real-world cash you're required to spend to access tons of gun parts, killer bots, cool traps, and other goodies needed to get the most out of this experience.

A ridiculously broad array of guns, getups, and doodads to swap out across your arsenal drive the ever-constant push toward leveling up and amassing spendable points. Customization is the key here, but it's also the downfall of Retribution's deceptive free-to-play model. Many of the guns and items available can be temporarily rented using currency you earn from completing matches. This is a great way to get a feel for different kits before shelling out actual money, but it takes an absurd amount of grinding to get enough to rent a single gun for one day, much less a week. Considering there are dozens of attachments available, ranging from scopes and muzzles to stocks and decorations, you have to churn through a ridiculous number of matches just to get a little taste of the goods. Real cash can be used to rent items too, but you'll want to save your money for the real kicker: permanent unlocks.

Sweet tactical stock. If you want it, you'll need to fork over the cash--or inordinate amounts of time.

Permanent unlocks require real money, and they aren't cheap. A single gun can run you around $3.50, and between armor and tactical upgrades, you can drop upward of $30 on customizing a single character and loadout. By the way, that single character and loadout are all you start with. Additional quick-swap loadout slots cost $5 apiece. I can appreciate how the rental system lets you try before you buy, but prices across the board are unnecessarily steep. Retribution is only free-to-play if you're content with a harshly limited, temporary arsenal.

Temper your expectations, however, and you can squeeze a reasonable amount of entertainment from Retribution without paying a cent. While they're not as spectacular as the more high-end kits at your disposal once you level up and shell out some real-world green, the standard assault rifle, frag grenades, and other essential gear you start off with do a fine job of taking down adversaries. I spent many hours blasting away with only the limited freebie arsenal at my disposal and had quite a bit of fun along the way.

Strapped for cash and looking for something punchy to play on your PS4? Blacklight: Retribution has its fun moments to balance out the frustrating ones. But with a few unpleasant quirks, some missing features, and a borderline draconian pricing model, it's hardly a must-have shooter for kicking off the new wave of current-gen gaming.

The Good
Core shooter gameplay is simple but satisfying
Doesn't require PlayStation Plus to play online
The Bad
Texture pop-in and visual glitches hurt presentation
Meager player base means long matchmaking searches
Expensive upgrade/unlock model is unforgiving to your wallet
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Blacklight: Retribution

About the Author

Nathan Meunier is no stranger to the Blacklight series and is an avid enjoyer of the first-person shooter. For the purposes of this review, he spent upward of a dozen hours killing and getting killed in countless online matches.

Discussion

55 comments
Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Man this game would be fantastic if there were a few more maps and you didn't have to rent your weapon attachments.

Chupacabra3332
Chupacabra3332

I love this game on the PC, maybe Perfect World become greedy on the PS4, just maybe...

-Xerion
-Xerion

Gamespot should be ashamed of this review. It's pretty clear that the game is still on beta, and that probably the game will get to the same currency system that's working on the PC. That explains 2 of the downsides that Kevin pointed out in the video. If that's the case I hope these guys will retract this review, as the only thing it does is hurt the F2P system. This bad publicity not only affects PS4, but also the PC, where you CAN get everything for free (excepting camos), something that Kevin probably should have pointed out.

PfizersaurusRex
PfizersaurusRex

I've been playing this game on PC for over a year, tried BF3 but got bored by getting killed by lvl100 "Premium" players, now I'm back to BLR. Another thing is you feel your rifle a lot better than in BF3, although the latter is obviously superior in a lot of ways. It's really not P2W, I did spend $25 on it but only on decorative stuff. So it seems they wanna milk PS4 players, well I say go for it, I mean that's what PS4 players are for, right? :P

SuperDutchy
SuperDutchy

I have many games for my PS4, including AC IV and Killzone. After a little over a month and having beaten every game I have, I find myself playing this game quite a bit. It was free ( the best price :P) and It's quite fun.

trexcommander
trexcommander

This game was fun for about a month on PC. At least some aspects of the game are unique. 

Makc2
Makc2

It's strange because on PC nearly every issue in this review is nonexistent. It seems strange that they would completely rebalance the entire economy and screw around with other things, especially when tapping a new market where they could nearly double their profits. Maybe it's time to pull a microsoft and do a 180 back to their roots. 

David Chang
David Chang

I'd say this is basically if CoD was a F2P game, but better... highly underrated...haven't played on console yet...

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

So are you actually saying it's impossible to keep anything but 1 item for each slot permanently? And even more importantly, unless you keep throwing more money than any full price shooter game costs you can't ever hope to access a wide range of guns and gaggets? In a game that is hardly innovating at all?


This review is basically saying that this game wants us to spend hundreds to get everything out of an experience worth little.

Michael Song
Michael Song

what did they do to this game on PS4!!?? You can't perm weapons or parts with in game currency???

burrito_tester
burrito_tester

I completely agree with this guy.  I was looking forward to this game but it was a HUGE let down...

tolys
tolys

The fun thing about BLR is the big customization that is available but the bad thing of course is that you need to spend countless hours or money to unlock them. You can rent everything except some camos and equipment but if you want to rent everything you will need to play at least 5 hours per day in order to keep refreshing your rented items and then you won't be able to buy anything. If they toned down their prices and points required to unlock items and removed the level requirement for items the game would be much more enjoyable. The only thing you can do now is either pay a huge load of money so you can compete with the small player base that has already unlocked/payed for  everything or die a million times so you can farm a decent set and then be able to enjoy the game.

Tod Michael
Tod Michael

i thought the game was in beta on the ps4

Mark Butler
Mark Butler

this game don't like my computer, got a error when i turn my computer on after i install this game

RussellGorall
RussellGorall

How do you review a Beta as a final product?

Xx_DemonSoul_xX
Xx_DemonSoul_xX

Great review. That was my experience too. Not only did I get bored of it after a few weeks, but it was nearly impossible to unlock anything without either renting or dumping endless amounts of cash in the game. The load times waiting to join a match are also terrible. It takes an average of 10 to 20 minutes to find a match. Rarely do I get in right away. This game has since been deleted. Save your money.

Hayasmez
Hayasmez

I love this game but having to constantly play to keep a weapon/perk or pay a tenner just to unlock somthing isn't worth it, no matter the game. Sadly i don't see this or any other FPS doing well on the PS4 when Planetside 2 arrives.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Considering that other "free-to-play" titles offer permanent unlocks by just grinding, Blacklight: Retribution is just one big extended demo.

Aqua10
Aqua10

I played it on the PC for a while, it's a decent shooter but could get pretty grindy when you're trying to unlock stuff. Also regarding that- unless there were some drastic changes made to the game, it's possible to permanently unlock most of the gear using only ingame currency. Was this changed for the PS4 version?

Pukshd
Pukshd

Ryse, Panser Dragoon, Forza 5: 60$, have microtransations BUT IT`S OK

Blacklight: F2P, has microtransations BUT IS NOT, JEEZ GUYS

#Nathan Meunier Logic  #GameSpot Logic

uchihasilver
uchihasilver

wait they jip a free to play game for haveing the ability to buy things in game ¬.¬ but yet forza 5 panser dragoon and ryse are okay having microtransaction and they are fucking $60 GAMES seriously wtf also im sorry but when is meager player base a valid argument when the console is like 2 weeks old >.> unless its linked to pc in which case continue xD

ahpuck
ahpuck

Why do they even bother calling it free to play?

Snakepond1
Snakepond1

Well at least it's free. I guess.

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

I played it a bit on my friend's PC and found it to be good but went back to CSGO, my friend on the other hand spent 90$ on it.

CptYoutube
CptYoutube

@Makc2 its the console crowd. They are more willing to spend money on F2P's because they are new to console. You saw the same thing with the first few F2P's on PC. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RussellGorall 

GameSpot now has the policy of reviewing "free-to-play" titles after they have become somehow stable and, more importantly, have started asking for money in any form.


This has been happening for a long while in many gaming sites, RussellGorall. "Free-to-play" titles can't retain a "beta" label and not get criticized by salaried reviewers anymore. Being "beta" is no longer a shield as it is an excuse now.

delta5931
delta5931

@Xx_DemonSoul_xX The PC version is superior. You can get loads of CP to purchase a item permanently, and weapons to match. Just keep playing. Although, the P2W aspect is still strong there too. So just keep killing enemys and you should be good. I've shied away from consoles for a few reasons and this is one of them: Porting a great game to a console and then in turn turns into complete and utter CRAP. That and the consoles have no backwards compatibility.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Hayasmez  

Yeap, I agree that Sony's own "free-to-play" baby is more than likely to crush many other "free-to-play" shooters.

I wish I would play that game, if only Sony's gaming divisions are not on my blacklist.

CptYoutube
CptYoutube

@Pukshd They completely changed the economy for the PS4 version of the game you blind fanboy. Compared to the PC version, this game is shit. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Pukshd  @SOLIDAge  

You might want to consider what those microtransitions do in those two different games before you second-guess other people's arguments.

Also, you may want to consider comparing Blacklight: Retribution to other "free-to-plays".

MirorB
MirorB

@Gelugon_baat @Pukshd @SOLIDAge Erm... the microtransactions in BLR are easily avoidable if you're a below average FPS player. You get enough GP in less than 3 hours of game time to get yourself a viable permanent piece of equipment for your level, granted that you're not getting streaks anywhere.


Unless you are absolutely terrible and/or have the attention span of a goldfish, you don't have to pay a single cent to match other players as the only cash-only advantages are just alternatives. (see Foiche incendiary rounds, they can be stacked as a fast-acting DoT but you can survive them)

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Ultra_Taco @uchihasilver @SOLIDAge @stevenspall @Pukshd 

I don't share your views. Firstly, you are already comparing a "free-to-play" title with one that has a price tag - a very skewed comparison. 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RussellGorall 

You can say that, but my stance on comparing "free-to-plays" with other "free-to-plays" still stand.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@MirorB

You can protest, but I will still call you an apologist.

Also, if you haven't noticed already, not everyone that has played the game can stomach the designs of the premium options like you can. This is a game that is very difficult to argue as giving the free-loading shrimp a level playing field.


Furthermore, not everyone can consider promotional events as compensating for the microtransaction barriers. I have seen that argument before, and it often comes from people that have already been smitten with a "free-to-play" title.

MirorB
MirorB

@Gelugon_baat @MirorB Or you could just not label me as anything and simply concede to the fact that regardless of the microtransactions available, actual game content can't be compared to the irony that is buyable currency, ie. the actual get-there-fast thing worth complaining about.


(And besides, if we're talking PC, with the large number of events they hold, most of said premium items are literally given away near constantly. I figure the PS4 version will be no stranger to such occurrences.)

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@MirorB 

You can say that, but you may be glossing over the fact that some items can only be permanently bought with Zen, the premium currency, but not Game Points.

Also, you may be glossing over the fact that purchases with Zen are not limited by level requirements.

Sure, splashing money won't necessarily have a player winning matches outright, but a whale still has the advantage of being able to unlock a versatile armoury much earlier than a shrimp, as well as keep that armoury in the long-term.


With all that said, you may want to consider whether you are being an apologist for the game.

RussellGorall
RussellGorall

@Gelugon_baat @Ultra_Taco @uchihasilver That was the comparison.


A free to play title's real money in-game economy vs. a $60 retail title. It was just an economics question.


You don't have to share anyone's views on the Internet.

Blacklight: Retribution More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    Blacklight: Retribution is a first-person shooter based in a futuristic urban war zone.
    7.7
    Average User RatingOut of 389 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Blacklight: Retribution
    Developed by:
    Zombie Studios
    Published by:
    Perfect World Entertainment, Zombie Studios
    Genres:
    Shooter, Team-Based, Action, First-Person, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence