Mar 20

Written by: Thryon
3/20/2009 5:15 PM  RssIcon

Box Art
The aliens are not what is going to scare you!
BlackSite: Area 51
Release Date: February 20, 2006
Developer: Midway Austin
ESRB Rating: Mature
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
During the summer of '07, Midway released a demo for the much hyped game BlackSite: Area 51. After having played the demo, I was left with a positive feeling. Maybe, just maybe if they adjust the questionable artificial intelligence and take care of other minor glitches that were present in the demo, the game could be great. I honestly felt the BlackSite: Area 51 had the potential to be the sleeper hit of the holiday season. It was with this positive feeling that I jumped into the full version of BlackSite: Area 51. I was so sure this game was going to be great that I choose to start playing this game before other games such as The Orange Box, Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect (just to name a few).

Remember that positive feeling I had about this game I just talked about? Well that feeling quickly left as the reality of the game came crashing down after having only completed the first level. This was enough of the game to tell me that no work was done on the game since the demo, even though it was delayed a few times to allow for fine tuning. As it turned out, things only got worse as the first level was one of the better levels of this game.
Screenshot
(Click for larger image)
BlackSite: Area 51 does have a lot going for it. The storyline is interesting and partly engaging. The graphics at times are outstanding and the destructible environment adds a bit of strategy when trying to find a hiding spot. The bosses are huge and challenging and the gameplay can be quite hectic at times. Those few lines are all the positive comments I can think of for this game. Where to start on what is wrong with the game?

While some graphics are great, most are just bland. The same can be said about the levels. It was like the game was designed by two groups, each in charge of different levels. One did a great job, and the other spent all their time playing Halo 3. This duality can be felt in every part of the game, from character design to the musical score.

The game is plagued by many problems but none worst than the frame rate. At times the framerate became so bad that the game was no longer playable. Not since my days of trying to play Quake 2 on my 486 have I seen so much chunking. This was a shame as it broke up some fine action sequences. Another issue is how objects are disjointed from the world. If you kill an enemy, he/it disappears instantly and the weapon he/it was was using will fall to the side. I hear you saying that this is normal fare for most shooters. Yeah, but if the enemy was located on a platform and the gun fell off the platform when the enemy dropped it, it will float in mid-air. It was not uncommon that after an intense battle, there was not a single body to be found, but plenty of floating guns.
Screenshot
(Click for larger image)
I can deal with floating guns, what I could not deal with was the tendency to get stuck in objects in the game. I am not talking about a level that is to difficult to complete, I am talking about getting stuck in a closing door or a rock. Many times there I stood, half of me on one side of the door, the other half on the other side, not able to move wit the only option available to exit the game and reload. the level. This was not an isolated incident as this problem of getting stuck in objects occured all the time

I wanted to post a positive comment about the multiplayer aspect of BlackSite, but I could not find a single person online to play against, even though I tried several times on the week it was actually released (that may be a blessing in hindsight).

BlackSite is one of those games you cannot write off completely as it does have some great action sequences (if you can endure the horrible framerate) but you just cannot recommend to friends as you are afraid they may stop talking to you. Rent if you must, but be warned, this game never left beta form.
--Brian Wray

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