Review by RiddlerOne
"Very Good , But Short & On the EZ side"
There have been some very good First Person Shooters that have come to the X-Box this year, most notably Halo 2 , Doom 3, and the military scenario game, Road to Hill 30. Area 51 falls right in line with these titles as far as the action goes, including sharp, crisp visuals with solid FPS action, but it never seems to want to step 'outside the box' .... instead content to sticking to the tried and true formulas of the FPS genre with only one area of innovation ( the ability to change into a mutant ) that seems cautiously under-utilized and one that has very little bearing on the actual gameplay.
Graphics ( 9.5 )
Say whatever you want about the X-Box, but the visuals the system is able to put out are really gorgeous. This title does not disappoint either. The weapons all look great, with realistic contact animations and spot-on physics. There aren't nearly as many explosions (as say in Halo 2) and I was disappointed that there wasn't more environment interconnectivity. I wondered why I could only usually shatter some glass windows or Tubes (esp. in the Alien Base portions of the game) but then have no effect on numerous other areas within the game. It seems that since the 'Red Faction' games promised this feature and then seemed to drop the ball ( at least in my opinion ) ... other game developers/designers haven't really embraced this idea of destructible environments. Maybe when the systems have more processing power available.
Sounds ( 8 )
Nothing great here, but nothing awful as well. David Duchovny's voice acting sounds like he's on Valium ... but this was only a minor distraction as he dead-pans about his comrades being killed ( I think I showed more emotion when my hamster died ) , but the other voice actors do a much better job bringing their characters to life.
Gameplay (Single Player 9 -- Online Multiplayer 7.5)
This is where the game really shows it tried and true FPS roots. The gameplay is very solid throughout the Title, with no slowdown witnessed ( although for the most part they keep the enemies you face very manageable and few in number). As I stated before, I felt the title was on the Easy side of it, with only a couple of instances (even on Hard mode) where you actually find yourself threatened with death. And for the most part, they give you more life refills than you know what to do with ... and plenty of ammo. I can only think of one or two spots where I ran low on Life or Ammo. Also, they tried to include the innovation of turning into a mutant in the latter portion of the game, but I felt this ability was under-utilized and although cool to try, figured very little in the outcome of the game. It was almost always easier to use your guns and the game rarely forced you to use this ability.
But why the lower multi-player score you ask ???? Because I found the multiplayer environments to feel very claustrophobic and the action was too frenetic for any semblance of realism. It seemed the order of the day was kill or be killed within 10 seconds of spawning and I didn't get the enjoyment that I have with other games (such as Halo 2 or Road to Hill 30)
This game is still a SOLID title, but be warned that you can EASILY beat the single player campaign in a RENTAL. The collection of different 'artifacts' to unlock 'secrets' in the game is a great idea, but the secrets are nothing more than segments of what should have been just 2 of the secrets ( cut scene 'lectures' from the opposing parties that give you background and illumination into the storyline ) Some 'real' secrets would have been a better idea (such as unlocking unlimited mutant power, etc.) and the present system seems almost like an add-on to give the title more longevity.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/25/05
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