Review by e1337x

"It's a shame there isn't much Live play"

Area 51 is a modern sci-fi first-person shooter that is lost in the shadows of Halo 2 and other popular Xbox games. Although it is a great game, I think it could have been much better, especially in the Gameplay and Story fields.

Story: 7/10
Your name is Ethan Cole, and you are sent as a reinforcement to Area 51, a secret American military base in Nevada, to get rid of an infection that is spreading at a fast pace. Who is causing the infection? A bunch of crazy Alien creatures.

The story starts out great, and it really is a blast to keep up with it as you play through the early chapters. It's an original idea. Later, however, they make such a terrible twist in the story that it becomes ridiculous, and has a great impact on the fun you have in the game. I will not reveal the twist, as it will be considered spoilers, but they tried to change the story and did a ridiculous job in doing that. For example, the Aliens start out screaming and grunting at you, and then they begin to speak english... It's not at all intriguing.

Graphics: 10/10
The graphics of this game are outstanding, and match those of Halo 2. The inside structure of Area 51 is extremely impressive; and the lighting effects are simply awesome. If only Halo 2 had used its graphic capabilites this way. The guns, too, are impressive. Two thumbs up.

Sound: 10/10
I could not find any flaws in the sound, and had to resist giving it a 9/10. First of all, the gunfire is awesome, both for the human weapons and the alien weapons. As usual, the alien weapons have that "laser"-ish sound to it instead of a bullet-sound. Nothing less expected from a bunch of mutants.

This is one of the few games that, in my opinion, had very good voice acting. Unlike other games, that try to dub the voices in an anime-style english, and do a horrible job at it (maybe it's just an english thing), this game's voice-acting works like that of an english movie.

Controls: 7/10
The controls could have been much better for this game. First of all, they don't even let you change the controls, so you have to adjust to the control system, and that is a difficult thing if you play other FPS games like Halo 2.

You pick up a gun when you walk on top of it, and I think it should give you a choice to pick up the gun or not, because some guns are unwanted and then, in times of battle, you have to scroll through all the guns until you find the one you're looking for. It's very annoying.

You can also dual-wield in this game, but when you're dual-wielding, you can't re-load your guns. So, sometimes when you find enemies, you shoot 2 bullets at them only to drop your second gun and start reloading the first one automatically. It can become very frustrating at these times.

You won't find yourself using the stealth controls too much. You can use the D-Pad to lean and fire, but it serves no purpose, since this is more of an action game instead of strategy. Still, it's a welcomed idea. You can crouch too, which is also not at all necessary. No complains about it, though.

Gameplay: 7/10
In short, this game was fun to play, especially in the earlier levels, but later it was only my desire to beat the game that lead me to the end.

Let me start with the enemies. You start with fighting a couple of small alien creatures, then to little spider-like creatures (flood), then to tall, gun-wielding mutants, and to the very famous Grays.

That is pretty much all the enemies you will be facing in this game. Is there a variety? No. Not at all. It's actually very repetetive. In some of the later levels, you will continously have to put up with the Grays, which use a force-shield to defend themselves while they throw little orbs to spawn Alien creatures. It's like they were trying to make the levels longer by making you face the same enemies over and over again.

The guns also don't have a variety. There are only 6 different types of guns in the entire game, from which you will not be using the pistol much, as it does little damage, and you will not be using the alien RPG much, as you can hardly find ammo for it. So that leaves 4 guns that you will be continually using: A type of assault rifle, a shotgun, a sniper, and an Alien gun which is difficult to describe. It's still a blast to use these guns though, as you find ammo continously and rip your way through the levels easily with them.

Although the levels are well-designed, it becomes old fairly quickly. The complaint I have with them is that they're very very restricted. You will hardly ever be in an open place, and will spend most of your time running through the tight corridors. They are also very straight-forward levels. You don't need a walkthrough to tell you where to go. Sometimes the game will make you go back-and-forth to complete objectives, which can become extremely annoying.

Multiplayer: 9/10
Although the Xbox-Live of this game is extremely dead, it's actually quite fun to play. There are some old favorite gametypes, such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and some original ones which are also very fun to play (Human vs. Mutant). One thing I like, although it sounds corny, is the announcing voice they used. It's a female voice that uses computerish-language to make announcements, such as who is the mutant, who has joined the game, and more.

You can use a variety of Character models to choose from. It's very nice. The maps are nicely designed, although one of them, as i noticed, is taken right from the campaign game.

If more people played this game, it would be a blast to play. But sadly, it isn't like that. It still delivers the same excitement as Halo 2, though, in my opinion. Makes you jump around and throw grenades.

Buy or Rent?
If you are a huge fan of FPS games, then just buy the game. There are some secrets hidden in the campaign game, but they're really not too much to get excited over, as they're just diaries or other stuff. If you want to buy it for Xbox Live, then just let me warn you that it was rather difficult for me to find games on this.... not many people play it, which is a shame for such a great game.

I beat this game in a 5-day rental, and I only had to sit 3 times... so if you want to beat it, just rent it.

OVERALL: 8.3 -> 8 on GameFaqs

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/19/05

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