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The Firing Line: Blacklight release, Defiance, and (hopefully) a DUST livestream

Jef Reahard

Welcome back to The Firing Line, shooter fans. I'm still recovering from Sony Online Entertainment's PlanetSide 2 demo last week (as well as CCP's reveals regarding DUST 514 gameplay footage and impending beta dates).

Life goes on, though, and there are plenty of interesting tidbits to talk about with regard to our favorite genre. Won't you join me after the break for a recap?

Blacklight Retribution releases April 3rd
Perfect World Entertainment tipped us off to Blacklight Retribution's release date this week. The sci-fi shooter is scheduled to go live on April 3rd, which believe it or not is only a few days away (where is 2012 going?).

Blacklight has been in beta for five months or so, and PWE says that the game has attracted a "strong community of dedicated players" who have provided tons of crucial feedback. You'll recall that I previewed the title a couple of weeks ago, and what I found was one of the best-looking shooters I've seen in a while. The game's escalation-based matches are more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and the fearsome hardsuits (which can single-handedly turn the tide of a match) have to be seen to be believed.

Zombie Studios is releasing new content at a decent pace as well. Last week we got the new Containment map as well as the Grendel heavy weapons character, and this week the devs are gifting players with the new Vertigo map. There's a lot to love about this game, and while it's not an MMOFPS by any stretch of the imagination (it tops out at 16v16), the free-to-play price point and the AAA production values make it a great time-killer if you're looking for something engaging prior to PlanetSide 2 or DUST 514.

Defiance casting announcement
I haven't written much about Trion's new Defiance MMOFPS in this column. That's not by design, mind you, as the concept is pretty intriguing and the firm has proved that it can make a polished and successful AAA MMO. Defiance, though, is shrouded in a ton of secrecy, and whether that's because development isn't very far along or because the powers-that-be just want to build a little hype, the end result is that there simply isn't much to write about.

That changed this week with the announcement that the Syfy Channel had cast several actors for the Defiance television pilot that is scheduled to begin filming next month. Defiance is a multimedia partnership between Syfy and Trion, with content from the television show crossing over into the game (and vice versa). To be honest, I'm pretty lukewarm on this aspect of the game. I can't wait to play another AAA MMOFPS, but I also can't muster much enthusiasm for Syfy programming aside from Ronald Moore's terrific Battlestar Galactica reboot.

That said, I certainly wouldn't mind taking quests from a virtual version of Julie Benz.

Ultimately, though, Defiance the game needs to stand on its own, and while there haven't been a ton of IP-based MMOs over the years, other video game genres are littered with the steaming carcasses of IP-to-game translations that sounded good on paper and ended up being crimes against humanity. I'm willing to give Trion the benefit of the doubt here, but I'd also like some details on the game as opposed to the TV show.

DUST 514 Fanfest livestream?
CCP threw a bone to those of us who are unlucky enough to be stuck at home during next week's EVE Online Fanfest 2012. As you're probably aware, the firm will be offering up the first public hands-on with DUST 514 during its Icelandic shindig, and I'm hoping to catch the happenings via the livestream that CCP announced earlier this week.

The news blurb was heavily slanted toward EVE content, but I reckon that DUST will make the cut too, seeing as how interest in the new shooter is growing by the day. Interestingly, CCP is offering a paid option on the livestream, and before you go cussing the devs into next week, have a look at what you get if you shell out one PLEX.

Firstly, you get a high-def version of the stream. CCP is also throwing in an in-game Fanfest 2012 t-shirt for your EVE avatar as well as a Mark IV Quafe Iteron hauler ship with both speed and cargo space bonuses. The goodies will set you back either $19.95 or approximately 470,000,000 ISK (the current in-game PLEX value as of press time). And I know, none of that is really relevant to the shooters covered in this column, but it's worth checking out the free version of the stream in the hopes of getting a glimpse of DUST gameplay.

And that's about all I've got for you this time around. I hope to see you here next week for more shooter news and views, and in the meantime, don't hold back in the comments.

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.

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