Free games don't feel as fluid, but they don't charge as much either

User Rating: 6 | Blacklight: Retribution PS4

Blacklight: Retribution is a free to play first person shooter that originated on the PC and was later ported over to the PlayStation 4. With a futuristic setting, sharp looking visuals and some comfortable weapon handling, you'd think that the game would be great, but there are many jarring issues that never cease to ruin the core gameplay mechanics.

First and foremost, there is no story or campaign, the game solely exists for online play. The only mode that replicates single player is the practice mode, which allows you to test your skills against some fairly stupid AI controlled bots in a dull looking map. The other modes in the game include deathmatch, team deathmatch, kill confirmed, domination, king of the hill, last man standing, last team standing, search and destroy, onslaught, capture the flag and finally a beta map called the rig. Every single mode is the same as it has always been in other games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, so no points for originality there. These modes aren't necessarily bad, in fact most of them are well made, but the likes of onslaught and capture the flag are riddled with bugs and glitches. Onslaught is made almost impossible. The mode consists of you and some teammates surviving waves of relentless zombies, but thanks to poor programming, zombies have the ability to crowd around you, rendering you unable to move unless you're able to kill enough of them to free yourself. Some zombies are cheap even without resorting to blocking you off. Armored types can blow you away with accurate shotgun blasts to the face, which can take chunks of your life bar away if you're not careful.

Capture the flag currently suffers from a glitch that won't allow the flag bearer to officially capture the opponents flag. Whenever a player successfully makes it from one end of the map to the other, the game thinks the player isn't carrying the darn flag, thus wasting valuable seconds. As you'd expect, many people have died due to this. A real pain in the neck is the lag that carries across to every game mode. Even when your internet connection is good, you will experience frames dropping frequently, host migrations, chugging and very unusual kills. It's a crying shame because the actual gameplay is fast paced and fun, and matches often end up being intense and full of close calls. Throughout each map, you will find depots to help you out in sticky situations. Whenever you're low on ammunition (and trust me, you'll run out quickly) you can just buy some more with points that can be earned by killing people or by getting assists, etc. You can also heal yourself, purchase special weapons such as a flamethrower or a stinger missile launcher which you will lose if you die, and you can even summon a mech known as a hard suit. Don't get your hopes up though, the hardsuit is slow moving, a big target and has some pretty lackluster weaponry.

The maps themselves range from fantastic, average and terrible. The crash site proves to be one of the better maps in the game while the seaport is one that will leave you disappointed. There are nineteen maps (twenty in the PC version) and around five of them are brilliant while the rest of them are a mix of just plain boring and extremely uninspired. The bad maps are full of obstructions and unnecessary object placements that always manage to get in the way of the action. Some maps are just too small for the amount of players in one server, resulting in spawn kills half the time. Finally the ultimate problem are the campers, who do nothing but sit in a building miles away from where you are, and end up killing you without any effort. The graphics are great to look at, but certain textures look muddy and there is a lot of texture pop in. Makes you wonder why considering that the areas you fight in aren't even that big, so why does the game have trouble rendering so little? Most of the time it holds up, but the frame rate does whatever the heck it wants to be honest with you. Like I said before, even if your connection is decent, it still begins to jitter about uncontrollably. The net code is seriously broken, and should be fixed.

As far as controls go, they do what they should, and they're not exactly complex since it's a first person shooter after all. The gun play feels smooth, melee kills always feel satisfying and frying enemies with the flamethrower just doesn't get old. I need to address this one little thing, however. The grenades are almost worthless. They almost never go where you want them to go, the explosion is under powered and your character can't even throw them far enough anyway. Grenades should only be used as a last resort, or when you're engaged in a close quarters battle with some enemy soldiers. If you use them any other time, you'll have no chance. What's great about this game is the sheer amount of guns on show in the game. Unfortunately, you're going to need deep pockets if you ever want to unlock more than a few of them. Buying a gun, adding a scope to it, adjusting the stock, fumbling about with the barrel and selecting a tag can cost you around $5.00 to $10.00. That's outrageous to say the least, but you will find that a lot of people fall into this trap and end up spending tons of money just so they can get a modified version of a gun that didn't cost anything in the first place. The game even charges you money for just skins and armour. This is easily the games worst and most obscene flaw.

To make matters worse, you're gonna need to level up your character to be able to unlock the weapons before shelling out hard earned cash. It takes forever to reach level ten, and there are more than thirty levels, so you need to be very patient if you really care about handing over real money for a virtual weapon. A lot of items on sale in-game are way too expensive, with price tags of up to 7000 points for just a regular, low level weapon, and since you earn an average of about 450 points per game, and even lower if you lose, you'll be grinding for what seems like forever. Despite all of this, I don't hate the game. Most matches are epic battles featuring two strong oppositions, and it all ends with the slightest margin of victory. You can host private matches, and they're perfect for people who just want to play with their friends and not some randoms from across the world. What little music there is fits in with the atmosphere, making certain moments feel even better and getting into a match is lightning fast due to the games growing community. This may be a problem for people who want to join their friends mid game, but hey, what can you do.

Blacklight: Retribution is a great game but swamped with bad design choices and ideas. Some of those thoughts work, but a lot of them fail to live up to what they were hyped up to be. Fantastic visuals, amazing matches, a short but memorable soundtrack and a large helping of maps and modes makes the game feel fresh, but micro transactions, performance issues, a wonky net code as well as a complete lack of originality and textures popping in makes the game feel rushed and incomplete. Hopefully future updates straighten out these niggles, because the game is worth playing if you can tolerate them for long enough.