Review by kiriyama2
"Short-lived but a blast to play"
The original Area 51 lightgun arcade game was not exactly a revolutionary title back in the nineties. Recently Area 51 was remade (essentially) and released on the PS2 and Xbox. Much like the arcade original, this version of Area 51, is not a revolutionary title. It's just a blast to play.
In Area 51 you play as Ethan Cole. A member of Hazmat (Hazardous Materials) team Delta (I think). Hazmat Delta has been sent in to clean up a viral outbreak at Area 51, a secret government facility in the vast deserts of Nevada. And to locate the other Hazmat team that was sent in earlier but have been lost, and are presumed dead. The plot is cliched and we have heard this story before (just not set in the Area 51 base). Chances are you're not playing this game for a deep and involving storyline, so the less-than-original story is okay.
This game really does look amazing. The environments are nice and detailed. Midway took some cues from games like Doom 3, and has a lot of blood-drenched hallways. You probably will get tired of seeing so many similar looking corridors, but you get used to them after a while. The cinematics in the game are pretty good looking, and tell the story nicely. I like the way the way they look like they took the scenes out of a sci-fi movie. The enemies in Area 51 look cool and evil. The zombies look and movie like the zombies from movies like Dawn of the Dead (fast), and the Hazmat teams look cool and look like marines. But, and this is quite perplexing (to me at least), Your character, Ethan Cole, in movie modes is wearing the same Hazmat suit as all the other characters in the game, but, in the actual gameplay it looks like he's using his barehands, and is just wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Oh well that's just a minor complaint and doesn't detract from the nice gameplay.
The voice acting in Area 51 is top notch. They got David Duchovney to supply the VO for Ethan Cole, and I couldn't have thought of a better choice (the guy was in The X-Files after all), I just wish that he didn't sound so tired in this game. The game also has Marilyn Manson, to do the voice of the main alien "Edgar", and man does he sound creepy. They also have Powers Booth (Senator Roark in Sin City), he plays the commander in charge of the operation to save Area 51. The voice actors for the other characters all sound cool. The music in the game is pretty well done, it has a sort of techno soundtrack. In the cinematics it uses a musical score that sounds like it's from a movie.
This is one fast and fun first person shooter. It plays a lot like the game TimeSplitters, and is just as much fun. It's pretty much standard FPS fare, you pick up guns, you run around corridors blasting anything that isn't you (or your buddies, but they die pretty early on), and searching for a random key every now and again. Ethan can also dual wield weapons (even shotguns), the problem with that is when dual-wielding, you can't hit the reload button and reload your two assault rifles, or shotguns. You instead have to wait until all of your ammunition is depleted then he tosses the extra shotgun (or assault rifle). It's just a minor complaint, and doesn't detract from the overall fun. Another minor complaint is the fact that the handgun kicks like a mule. Aim, fire, gun's pointed at the roof. Area 51 doesn't try to re-invent the first person shooter genre, but that doesn't matter because it is just so damn fun. But why, why did Midway have to include an ability to transform into an alien/mutant? It's just stupid, that was the same gripe I had with The Suffering. Still a good game though.
If you're a fan of first person shooters you owe it to yourself to pick this game up. It's just sad that this game isn't longer.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/25/05
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