Review by Sinister187
"The Conspiracy Is No Longer A Theory."
In 1996, Midway Games released a fun and action-packed light gun game called "Area-51". In which you take on the role of a Marine and venture through the infamous facility blasting away aliens. The game was a huge hit, and now years later, Midway has decided to revisit "Area-51". This time in the form of a standard First-Person Shooter.
The game opens with a gorgeous movie in which a team dubbed the "Hazmat Unit" enters the unique complex only to be slaughtered moments later. Then another team is deployed there to figure out what is going on in the facility and to find out the conditions of the other "Hazmat Unit". Upon entering, the lead character in which you play as, Ethan Cole sees the Horror unfolding before his eyes, and narrates it. You shall guide him in this violent adventure, blasting away hordes of aliens and uncovering bizarre things.
The game-play here is fun and hectic, very much different from the original title. It plays much like "Halo 2" with aspects of "Doom III" and "Half-Life" thrown in. Aliens swarm in on you violently, and you get to blast the living crap out of them with powerful weapons. Sometimes you fight solo and sometimes you fight with a squad, and surprisingly, the AI is rather good. You can also take control of some pretty mean turrets, those babies pack some heavy firepower. And the game incorporates Rag-Doll physics, so when you shoot one of these monsters in the head, they fly like the wind. As for weaponry, in your hands are pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, grenades and some devastating alien weaponry. You can dual-wield too, firing two shotguns at the same time into the chest of an oncoming alien is truly a lovely thing. You can also mutate into an alien and punch your enemies. As well as launching parasites which give you health in return after sucking the life out of the others. You also scan items for secrets, be on the lookout for them. Online play is included as well as some Multi-player modes, have fun.
The graphics in this title shine, beautiful and bright areas are all over. Particle effects are astounding and the frame-rate is awesome. The textures are also detailed very well, and the creature designs are top-notch, Stan Winston Studios did a great job. The one thing that did lack in this area was the lighting though, after playing titles like "Doom III" and "Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory", the ones displayed here just didn't cut it.
Controls here are solid, as with mostly every Xbox FPS. Your primary firing button is the R Trigger, while pressing the L Trigger performs a second ability. The Left Thumb-stick moves your character, while clicking it enables him to crouch. Tapping up on the D-Pad mutates your character into an alien for a short period of time, while pressing it Left or Right makes him lean in the selected direction. Tap and release downwards to turn your flashlight on/off. You aim with the Right Thumb-stick while clicking it allows for Melee combat. The Y button switches to your next weapon while the Black Button goes to your previous weapon. The A button allows for jumping, the B button tosses grenades, and the X button is the Use\Reload option. In Multi-player, controls remain the same just having the White button serving as a Chat option when pressed and held. Pressing and holding down on the D-Pad to drop flags and the Start button instead of pausing takes you directly to the Score screen.
The sound here is excellent, all the weapons sound as they should. Whether it be loud or silent, it's covered nicely. The music in certain parts is somewhat creepy, as are the noises emitted from the aliens. The voice-work from "X-Files" star David Duchovny as Ethan Cole is a bore. He sounds as though he's taken an entire bottle of sleeping pills and trying to stay awake. Marilyn Manson is cast as Edgar, an ugly looking alien. He delivers the goods, sounding weird as all Hell. Actor Powers Boothe from "Sin City" and "Sudden Death" as Major Douglas Bridges provides a fine performance.
Overall, "Area 51" is a damn fun game, with some gory camp elements added in. For example, a severed head serves as a device to open a locked door, you place it on a retinal scanner and instant success. My only major gripe with the game is that it's too short, it clocks at around eight hours of game-play or so. But with the addition of Online play and Multi-player, it does have it's replay value. And the single player mode is really fun, so the chance of going back to play through it again is highly likely. Those with a soft spot for First Person Shooter's, pick this up, I definitely recommend it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/30/05
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