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Gamescom Preview: Blacklight: Retribution

At Gamescom on Friday, I was able to get into the hallowed booth of Sony Entertainment to play one of PlayStation 4’s first games. I was met by one of the developers for the aforementioned game, Jared Gerritzen. His game is Blacklight: Retribution.

As a bit of background, Blacklight: Retribution is aiming to be one of the many launch games for the PlayStation 4, Sony’s next generation console. What sets it apart from the pack is that it is one of the few that are totally free-to-play, more on that later on. In addition, Retribution is one of the games that come without the restriction of a PlayStation Plus membership. That means that you really have no reason not to pick up this game if you are getting a PlayStation 4 on launch or throughout the presumably lengthy console life cycle.

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Upon meeting the Creative Director and Studio Head, Jared Gerritzen, I was treated to a brief demo of how the customization in the game works. Your personal character can wear any number of masks and suits, each of which are chosen by the player. One of the favourites that I saw in the list was a golden skull that protrudes from your mask. Very menacing indeed. After that, I was shown the gun customization in the game. You can change everything from the muzzle to the scope, making every detail of your personal weapon unique. You can even add little logos or charms that hang off of your weapon to make the ultimate custom weapon, naturally I chose a clover. Jared says that the game features over 1 million custom guns that you can make. I asked him whether he thinks it is up there with the kind of custom guns you see in Borderlands and he replies “I think we are definitely up there.” I agree, the level of detail here is astounding. Using the new touchpad feature on the Dualshock 4, you can twist and turn the guns to see them from every angle. A superficial addition? Maybe, but it is still cool.

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Talking about gameplay, this is the typical first person shooter type fare. All the traditional features are there like jumping, crouching and that small feature called shooting but the real fun comes with the new HRV feature. HRV is what Zombie Studios have done to make sure you know where the battle is at all times. Think a more futuristic version of Batman Arkham Asylum / City’s Detective Mode or The Last Of Us’ Listen Mode. You can see enemies and friendlies through the walls and any other objects of interest. This is, according to the developers, to stop those damn dirty apes… or campers. The same thing really. To start this mode, press the R1 button on the controller and the character drops a visor down over your vision which gives you the HRV ability. Being able to see were enemies are all the time could be seen as overpowered but in reality, when every player has the ability and before actually attacking someone it has to be removed, it just feels like a necessary addition. Another addition is the Depo Weapons which are a kind of special that you can use after a certain amount of points, such as a turret. When you place the turret and you die however, the other team can destroy or pick it up to use for themselves adding a new level of tactics to the classic killstreak idea. After a number of points, you can access a chest which will give you a random special weapon, I kept getting a rocket launcher but I was promised that there were more. Melee weapons were mentioned in my demo as well as I was treated to exploding tomahawks which are a cross between Call of Duty’s tomahawks and C4. They can deal damage to an opponent as well as being able to explode by the press of a button. If small, exploding axes aren’t your thing there are the normal knives too and more melee weapons were talked about.

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One downside of the game is the graphics, as they are slightly below par and would pass more as a PlayStation 3 game than a next generation game. The textures are also quite pixelated which adds to the graphical problems. Thinking about it, the game is totally free to play and despite being allowed to pay to get ahead as with many of these games, you can move through all the unlocks by purely playing a certain amount of time in game which gives you unlock points.

All in all the game looked solid. While the graphics were not at all next generation, the game showed a lot of promise in leading the next generation’s free to play charge. With all the customization and the sheer amount of unlockables, there may be quite a few PS4 owners who don’t buy a FPS game for the first few months.

Blacklight: Retribution will be releasing at launch for the PlayStation 4 which will be November.



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