BlackSite: Area 51 Hands-On Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
BlackSite: Area 51 box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Midway Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Midway 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept. 3, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-16 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Pending 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Aliens
by Matthew Walker

August 7, 2007 - Aliens have been the bane of our existence for quite some time, whether in video games or real life for some. They constantly find ways to ruin a perfectly good town with their death rays and probes. Granted, we have had several chances to take our stand against, as well as be one of, these heartless cold-blooded killers. Some would say the only exception to the cold-hearted ruthless killing nature of these life forms from a distant world is E.T., but I say that even he was out for blood. He just substituted his blood thirsty nature for some Reeses Pieces and stopped for the day.

BlackSite: Area 51 screenshot

Midway has been leading the charge against the world conquers for some time now. In the past, we needed to shake out our pants to find quarters to pop in to the arcade in order to take them down. Over time, we have had the opportunity of mowing down some Alien/Predator wannabes in the console version of those games and now we have a new outing that will focus on the element of teamwork to bring down the aliens. In September, we will make our final stand. In September, we will show the universe that you don't mess with a world that has seen Independence Day.

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The main storyline follows Aeran Pierce, a military vet who served during the Iraq Conflict. At the start of the game, we get a harsh flashback about the war and the mindset of the character at that time. We also find about those aliens. Doing what the government does best, they convince Aeran's squad that the aliens they saw were not real. They probably told them that it was due to the battle stress they were under, a common government ploy to distract from the truth. That or weather balloons. After some time has past, Aeran and his squad are called back into action because they are the only ones that have seen what is devastating the U.S. from the inside. This could be one tour of duty that Aeran and his fellow squad may wish they didn't have any part of.

BlackSite: Area 51 screenshot

I recently played the demo available for the game, and if I wasn't ready to take down aliens before then, I am now. Blacksite Area 51 is your traditional FPS game. You have the first person view, various weapons, and even the screen turning red effect to symbolize you are about to kick the bucket so find a place to hide to fill your health up feature. I know that that may be a little disheartening to find out that it is just another FPS, but it makes it up with the squad features you will be able to play with. There were several instances that the squad with me kept asking for orders and I could honestly hear that their restlessness was affecting their mood to follow my commands. I love this feature of the game; it adds that certain amount of depth to the combat system. Orders are not the only things that will affect your squad's performance either. If you are pinned down by a large amount of opposing forces, you will be able to watch them hide and scream to you to come and aid them. In addition, their morale is boosted if you are doing exceptionally well.

The controls for the demo were great all the way around; they responded as well as the squad followed my commands. I'm not sure if it is because of the countless hours I have spent playing through some other FPSs, but the ease in which a few friends and I were able to lock horns with the enemy was rather impressive. Nothing was overly complicated with the controls. I'm sure that as the game progresses, this simplistic natured control scheme will become a dire importance when face incredible odds, probably more so when we can take Blacksite online and play as a co-op team or in a 16-person deathmatch. There's part of me that hopes we will have more than those two choices of online gameplay, but we will have to wait and see how that comes about when the game is finally released.

BlackSite: Area 51 screenshot

The graphics are another appealing aspect of the game. The rain effect alone in the level that I played was impressive. The game is not a grittily detailed as some other games, but the effect Midway was going for is respectable enough to be considered a beautiful game to look at. This was even more apparent in the destructive nature of everything in the game. If you don't like the way the dairy freezer looks in the store, shoot it until it doesn't look like itself. The lightning effects add the omniscient eerie appeal to the game as well. All of the attention to detail in graphics will make the gamer in all of us giddy. Not to be completely outdone, the sounds of the game are pleasing too. The voice acting doesn't seem to be reliant on the fabled sci-fi genre of quality acting, and this is a good thing. The explosions are also authentic to the point of forcing you to feel the carnage of war on your nerves.

Blacksite Area 51 is holding its own as far as a title to be on the look out for. In a month that seems to be already dominated by Halo 3, Blacksite will be the sleeper hit that everyone is talking. Impressive graphics, squad based gameplay, and online features for a full explosion of carnage and bloodshed, all await us when the game hits shelves this September. The alien scum had better be watching their backs when we fight another Independence Day to free our world from them.

By Matthew Walker
CCC Project Coordinator

Features:

  • Your elite Special Forces squad, assembled from the finest soldiers in today's military, responds to your orders and your leadership in the most realistic in-game visuals imaginable. Lead your squad well, and they'll rally behind you when the enemy brings the fight, but waver in the face of the enemy and their morale will sink accordingly, affecting their aim, their fatigue, and the will to fight.
  • Players will have a wide variety of traditional online modes, such as Death- Match, Team-Death-Match and Capture-the-Flag. All-new, unique modes will also be available in the form of Human vs. Reborn mode and the new Siege mode, where teams try to capture each other's squad members on the way to controlling territory.
  • Drive the latest military HMMWVs, ATVs and commandeer civilian vehicles, or take a seat in the gunner's position in daring, low-level helicopter raids against enemy positions.
  • As Squad Leader, you have the power, the authority, and the duty to command your troops to perform a variety of complex actions, including planting C-4, sniping an enemy in the guard tower, or taking control of various vehicles. Players will also have the ability to control all squad commands with the press of a single button, without the hassle of clunky menus and/or multiple button taps.
  • In the ultimate mission-based, player-driven FPS game, take your Squad down any one of multiple paths to solve problems and defeat enemies. Strategically use cover points and blow away others in huge levels where nearly everything you see is destructible.

  • Screenshots / Images
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