Video Game Reviews – September 2012

If Death hates anything, it’s giant bugs.

Blacklight: Retribution
Zombie Inc./Perfect World
Reviewed on: PC (Exclusive)
Street: 04.03/07.02 (Steam)
Free-to-play games have a pretty terrible reputation—one that they’ve earned with often-shitty cover-ups that take your money and keep you playing—but recent games are changing that. Sequel to the multiplatform and not-free Blacklight: Tango Down, Blacklight: Retribution is neither shitty nor out to steal your wallet. Fairly traditional for an online multiplayer, first-person shooter, Blacklight includes all the standard game modes such as Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, etc. Combat is highly polished—gunfights are sudden and brutal, with plenty of explosive headshots, and matches are short enough to drop in for a quick scrap without a major commitment. Where the game distinguishes itself, past the price-point, is an intense level of customization. An experience system lets the player level up to unlock parts to modify the appearance and statistics of their weapons, essentially giving every player their own, unique, customized rifle. Another classy touch is the ability to choose a Weapon Tag that literally hangs from your rifle by a lanyard, and choices provided are as varied as an 8-Ball that gives your weapon extra accuracy to a Devil Girl that makes weapon-switching faster, or a Zombie Head that reduces damage from a head shot. Still, a free game has to find ways to make money somehow. Once equipment is unlocked, it has to be purchased or rented before it can be used. Fortunately, this can all be done with “Game Points” earned by playing matches or purchasing “Zen Points” to unlock items without the hard work. Either way, any premium upgrades aren’t essential to stay competitive, and any player can kick plenty of ass without spending anything. Blacklight: Retribution is fun as hell, and completely free. There’s no downside here. –Matt Brunk

Darksiders II
Vigil Games/ THQ Interactive
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PS3, Wii U, Windows, Cloud
Street 08.14
I put Darksiders II into my Xbox with great trepidation—not because I’m afraid of the main character (even though his mask is kind of intimidating). If you’ve never played Darksiders, the brief summary goes as follows: War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, thinks the apocalypse has started and rides to Earth to find angels and demons battling, but the other horsemen missing. He is accused by the Charred Council of starting the party early, and is sentenced to imprisonment. In this latest entry, Death is out to save his brother at any cost. Stepping into Darksiders II is easy for anyone whether or not they have played the series. You are given the quick fill-in before the opening cinematic—just as with any time you load your save—in case you’ve forgotten previous progress. The amount of content loaded into a seemingly basic hack-and-slash experience is truly stunning. Forget what you know about the previous game, and imagine an epic main storyline with plenty of side quests to fill your time during or after the first play through. Finishing the game on normal took roughly 24 hours, and I didn’t stop to finish any side quests, collect the ever-so-tempting boatman coins or find all of the artifacts from lost worlds. If side quests aren’t your thing, you can still spend your time collecting and upgrading your armor, weapons and Death’s skill set. This game won’t be winning Game of the Year, but it does fit perfectly in its pre-planned part of an epic tetralogy. Finishing the game made me itch to step right into the next sequel. Too bad we’ll have to wait a few years. –Thomas Winkley