BlackSite Area 51 Xbox 360 Review: Midway Uses Unreal Engine 3.0
After all the hype surrounding BlackSite: Area 51 the big question is does it live up to it? BlackSite delivers impressively in some areas but disappoints in others. Players are cast as Aeran Pierce, Delta Force, who must lead a small team of grunts, Cody Grayson and Logan Somers, into battle in a small Iraqi village. On the mission you locate an alien fragment and lose one of your men and blackout. It’s two years later and once again your squad is deployed but to Nevada this time. Reports state that a group of militia extremists have seized Area 51. It’s up to you and your new squad, Mitchell Ambrose and Cody Grayson, to enter the war zone and eliminate the hostiles.
BlackSite: Area 51 does have some great things going for it. So what’s great about BlackSite. First is the amazing graphics. Midway’s stellar use of the lighting engine gives the environments a sense of realism. Speaking of environments, not everything is destructible but a lot of it is, especially the cover points. Watching gas stations explode, glass shatter and debris fly, as bullets and lasers rip through the air is impressive. The massive beast that’s wrapped its tentacles around a bridge and is trying to attack your helicopter as you fly over and around it firing hundreds of rounds into it is a must see to believe, it’s that impressive. Although many of the environments are open allowing you to take various routes to face the enemy there are still times when you’ll be playing the line leader as you maneuver through an area single file while destroying exploding bugs. Get used to them, you’ll see them, a lot. BlackSite:Area 51 for the Xbox 360 does offer HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p.
Another great aspect to BlackSite is the controls. Targeting is very accurate and easy to use as is controlling the various vehicles you can commandeer. To bad the same can’t be said about your squad. This has to be one of the biggest disappointments. Keep in mind these guys are supposed to be Delta Force. With that should come some sort of artificial intelligence (AI.) Seriously, if these guys would act like Delta Force instead of running into battle getting shot and falling until you’ve cleared the area then maybe there would be reason to have them tag along. Other than to open doors and fire some of the turret mounted machine guns you aren’t allowed to operate for some reason these guys are useless. Sure there’s the single-button command. It’s easy to use. Simply aim your reticle to an area, hit the bumper and they’ll move to that position. What would have been nice is the presence of AI with this feature. There is a Squad Morale feature which when low they’re supposed to take cover more and fire less accurately. When high they’re supposed to fight more aggressively and effectively. Again, the lack of AI hurts this feature, as it would have been nice to see them react accordingly to the claims.
BlackSite: Area 51 is much better than it’s original, Area 51, and offers several new features. It is an impressive looking shooter. The interactive environments are fun. However, fans of shooters may get tired of seeing the same monsters over and over again. They may also be let down with how easy the final boss is to defeat. It can be beat in eight hours or less on any of the three difficulty levels. BlackSite does offer an online multi-player mode with the traditional Death-Match, Team Death-Match and Capture-the-Flag. There’s also a new Abduction mode where if you’re human you have to stay alive to remain human and if you’re a reborn soldier you must kill all the humans to make them reborns, There’s no co-op mode, online or offline.
The lack of a solid online mode and no co-op mode, BlackSite just doesn’t give players a lot to want to come back to with titles such as Halo 3 offering these features. Collecting all the dossiers for the sake of collecting them all may be the only reason some players will find to play this again.
BlackSite: Area 51’s hype may have led players to believe it to be great, it’s not. It is however, a decent first-person shooter (FPS) that offers great graphics and an interesting storyline. It’s worth spending the time it takes to beat it but may be a trade-in for some players after that. BlackSite: Area 51 is also available for the PlayStation 3 and the PC.