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Area 51
(hx) 07:46 PM EDT - Jul,25 2005

Area 51 is an action-packed first-person shooter that puts you in the role of Ethan Cole, the leader of the HAZMAT Division (hazardous materials) of the U.S. Army, sent to the mysterious Area 51 to help contain a viral outbreak. Equipped with a massive amount of human and alien weapons, you must explore chilling conspiracies such as the extraterrestrial crash at Roswell and the faked lunar landing, in order to solve the enigma of Area 51 before it is too late.

The game plays like your standard first-person shooter that focuses on shoot-em-up action. The path you need to travel from level to level is usually quite linear, and getting from point A to point B rarely takes much skill or brain power. You'll always have a very specific objective, so it's always clear what you need to do. Many of the missions themselves focus on short-term goals such as fetching key cards, activating switches or meeting Squad X. Combat can be challenging, but only because the game throws wave after wave of monsters at you for unbelievable lengths of time. These assaults come from all directions, and thankfully lack the predictability.

The game offers a pretty standard set of conventional weapons, so you can expect to see a shotgun, an assault rifle, a sniper rifle with multiple zoom settings, kind of alien blaster and two types of granades. However, don't expect chainsaw, rocket launcher, flamethrower or gravity gun. On the positive side, though, you can occasionally dual wield your weapons and that is a very satisfying experience. There's also an environmental scanner which you can use to get details on items you come across in the game. As you scan equipment, bodies, documents, and other items, you unlock secrets including background information and even video clips. One of the most unique things about Area 51 is that once (at some point in the game) you've been infected with the mutagen, you're able to mutate yourself at will and become a creature with all new abilities. You run faster, enemies stand out on the screen in your unique vision mode, and you have new attacks like Contagion and Parasites. Contagion form will give you very powerful melee attacks. Another will give you parasitic projectiles that you can use to restore your health.

In terms of multiplayer, there are 18 maps in total. You can compete with up to 15 other players in deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and infection. The infection mode involves one infected character attempting to infect every other player in the game in order to win. The maps are modeled after various Area 51 locations, but there are some MP specific themes to help with variety. The multiplayer runs smoothly without jerkiness or lag, but there is just not enough new here to prolong the replayability of the game.

Overall, the game feels very limited and shows itself to be just another linear shooter that only lasts roughly 10-15 hours (single-player). In other words, there's nothing you have not played before. It's not worth the 30 bucks right now, so I'd wait for 20 or even less if you really think this game might be worth it.

related links: homepage, interview, demo (728MB), trainer +4, all access cheat, Area 51 CDROM.

Minimum system requirements: Intel 1.4GHz CPU (or 1.2GHz AMD), 256MB RAM, DirectX9.0b compatible 3D accelerator *, DirectX9.0b compatible sound card, CD/DVD-ROM drive, 3GB free HDD space

* ATI Radeon 9800 through 9500, ATI X800, X600, X300, NVIDIA Geforce GT 6800 or 6600, Geforce FX 5950 or 5900, Geforce FX 5900 through 5600, Geforce FX 5200, Geforce 4 / 3 or Intel Graphics motherboards 915GM-FR, 915G, GMA900

snd: 4/5 - great effects, lackluster voice acting (David Duchovny, Marilyn Manson, and Powers Boothe)
gfx: 4/5 - textures are clean, the colors vivid, well done level design, many cinematic cut scenes
playability: 3/5 - basic run 'n gun shooter, some intense combat sequences, 19 single-player levels, repetitive gameplay, multiplayer up to 16 players (18 maps, 4 modes)
genre: first-person shooter
platform: PC (also available on PS2, Xbox)
release: first-person shooter
developer: Midway Studios Austin/ Mock Science
publisher: Midway
Overall: 72%

last 10 comments:

djdidge(04:59 AM EDT - Aug,02 2005 )
This is one of the best XBOX ports ive seen. That doesnt make it great, just playable. Afterall it is a console game (pah!)... I noticed that the perspective angles are sometimes wrong, giving a distorted look to some of the corridors etc... Some bits are good, so i guess its worth a play.


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