Area 51 (PlayStation 2) review
"When you think of Aliens you think of little green things that like to stick things up your (insert bad word here). Well that is where YOU are wrong. First of all they aren't green, they're Gray. But...they still like to probe people. There have been many attempts to a great Area 51 game, and this time Midway topped all with their new release. Unlike the other Area 51 games you may come across, this one actually has an attempt to a story, great graphics engine and let's not look past the fact of..."
When you think of Aliens you think of little green things that like to stick things up your (insert bad word here). Well that is where YOU are wrong. First of all they aren't green, they're Gray. But...they still like to probe people. There have been many attempts to a great Area 51 game, and this time Midway topped all with their new release. Unlike the other Area 51 games you may come across, this one actually has an attempt to a story, great graphics engine and let's not look past the fact of the great voice actors they hired. You should all know that if Marilyn Manson does the voice for a character, it must be a cool game.
If you couldn't tell by now this game takes place in the abominable military base stationed in Roswell, New Mexico. The base has been held a secret to all citizens, but a load of military is all over the place. Your character Ethan Cole is a HAZMAT soldier who has been ordered to take a look at the viral outbreak around the base. You will find the game starting out fine, but after you meet up with a couple soldiers everything seems to go wrong, after all is said and done you will find your way in the crossfire of your opponent. After you search around Ethan ends up finding a prodigious amount of mutated soldiers, and scientists...oh don't forget the gigantic aliens that just walk around. Most of these enemies are ready to kill, so this is a kill or be killed situation. The catch is, when they kill you, their cells will infect you and therefor you become one of them.
Anyone who has played a large titled first-person-shooter game will recognize some features in Area 51. The controls are the same for any fps games these days, and you really can't tell the difference between some of the weapons companies have been creating. But despite this game being like some of the other shooters it makes up with all the action based in the game. There can be a large amount of aliens in front of you, and all you have is a pistol. It may not sound like fun, but the next thing you know your in a turret blowing the hell out of these freaks. Having the gunfire go everywhere is quite an amazing feel, especially if you're big into World War games. But in Area 51 you will only have a few times where you just go crazy and blow anything away.
As I mentioned earlier the weapons in this game aren't the greatest. You only have a selection of 6 weapons, and if you're taking on these bad boys, I think you should have a damn truck full of weapons. The standard issue at the beginning of the game is a pistol, which handles rather well. Once you get to the areas where there is a lot of crossfire you will find an SMG just waiting to take out enemies. Like Halo 2, you have the ability to duel wield weapons, which can help out a lot of times. But instead of being able to re-load the other weapon, you just simply throw it down when the mag is done with.
Since the weapon selection isn't that great, you'd at least expect them to deal a rather large amount of damage, but don't get your hopes up. You will find yourself with a group of enemies and it seems rather challenging to mow them down with a shotgun. This is where you will find a lot of repetition in the game. It seems you spend most of the first part looking for keys to advance in the next area. While you're doing this alone you will have to fight a couple of jumpers here and there, which seem to be so predictable. But other than the large amounts that you fight with a couple friends, you will find this game lacking the challenge it should have.
Some parts Midway tried to overlook the continuity of the go here do this situation. Since you're fighting all of these monsters, you should know that one is bound to get you, and it does. Early in the game Ethan is infected with the virus, which had killed most of his team mates, but for some reason it reacted different with him. Ethan gains the ability to transform into one of those ugly bastards you've been fighting throughout the game. With this new transformation he obtains new abilities. His melee attack has almost tripled in strength, which helps out when you have a group of guys, and he has the ability to launch virus attacks at a far distance. The great thing about the virus attack is, not only does it kill your opponent, but it will give you health from them. The way that Ethan sees everything has been changed to a red highlighting heat sensing effect. This will help you find your enemies that may be hiding behind objects. This mutated mode really doesn't need to be used that much, but I think Midway was just trying to have fun. Else wise you should just stick to Ethan's normal state if you can. Another add-on is how you can scan items Metroid Prime style. Hidden in each level is about 5 documents which mostly contain anything and everything you've heard that was a cover up. One read was really interesting, it contained details about the assassination of Kennedy. After you find a certain amount of these documents you will unlock secret videos that will give you detail about Area 51, some which are quit disturbing. The files are easy to find, if you see a piece of paper with yellow around it, then get out your scanner, and obtain what lies in the document.
Midway actually did a great job with the graphics for this game, especially for the ps2. The environments are greatly detailed and wildly varied as well. The only downfall is you spend most of the game in the base, so there isn't much you can do to make it look that different. The character detail was surprising, even though the mutants don't very that much. Even though for the most part they aren't that scary, you will come across a few big ones that will make you want to wet yourself. The details in lighting were just they way it's meant to be, and it really didn't lag the system as you'd think it would. There isn't much of a difference between the Xbox and the Ps2 version which was a surprise to me. It shows you that Sony did have some things up their sleeves, but either way Xbox takes the victory in the end.
Sound seemed to be an important factor in this game. The weapons seemed rather loud, which seems appropriate for the situation. In a battle you will hear the bullets bouncing off the walls and grenades exploding all over the place. Your team mates will be yelling out nice language, or telling you that they are reloading. When you get to a large battle it seems creepy to be hearing all the shooting and not notice an enemy come from the other direction. Most of the mutants have a low growl, and they like to play a Solid Snake role and sneak up from behind. The soundtrack isn't the best of the best, you are left with a songs that you can barely hear, but you can tell from the beat that something is about to happen. The voice actors names seem to be all that is great to anyone. Lovely talents like David Duchovny, Powers Boothe, and Marilyn Manson lend their voices to the game, but fail in all aspects. Manson's gigantic infected psychic alien creature has the sound of death all over him. Boothe really does nothing but yell orders at you over the mic, and Duchovny sounds like he's been on drugs for a couple weeks while he rehearsed his role.
After you take a handful of your time to finish the Single player, you can make your way to the multi-player online. There can be a total of up to 16 players for teams to take on death match, capture the flag or infection, where the players can take the role of the mutant or a soldier. The maps aren't that wide varied, in fact most of them are taken straight from the game. The least Midway could have done was put together a team to make a load of maps for us all. Both the Xbox and the Ps2 can handle the large amount of players with no problem, which is really surprising with the Ps2. Even though it's like most fps games, it really can't seem to grab your attention to keep coming back and playing it.
The most time spent on this game would be around 12 hours if you're not that great of a fps player. There's plenty of secrets to obtain, plus you can even do a split-screen mode and take out one of your friends. Multi-player is lacking a bit as far as maps come along, but overall it's something to keep you busy when you're bored. The story itself should keep you entertained for a while. As far as purchasing this game, I'd wait till it drops in price. This is a must rent game though, so go out there and get probed!
Community review by alucard517 (June 27, 2005)
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