For those of you who didn’t play Area 51 for the original Playstation, it was one of the most fun experiences I think I have had with a shooter since Duck Hunt. What made it so much fun was that it brought the arcade feel to your home and really made quite a bit of people happy from start to finish. Now a long time later we have a game that left all of its great roots in search of new ones as we check out this latest first person shooter from Midway called Area 51 and it’s for the Xbox. So does this game keep the fun alive? Read my full review to find out!
Along time back when I first heard that they were making a new Area 51, I really didn’t even contemplate the fact that the game was going to be anything different from the experience that we found on the arcade games as well as the Playstation. I thought there may even be a chance we would see a new gun controller for the consoles in order to go alongside the game. But alas the developers decided to go into the much more popular genre of the FPS and this risk could make or break the game. So which side did Area 51 land on?
Well of course from this game, as well as other movies like Independence Day, we have heard plenty about Area 51, the supposed base that holds all secrets that the public are not supposed to see. With that being said, the games takes that very idea as you take charge of Ethan Cole, who let’s just say gets in the middle of a big mess. After some problems in the base you find that many of the people at Area 51 are now changed into basically what looks to be monsters. The whole story to me wasn’t all that interesting, especially with the concept of Area 51 in my opinion you would easily think you could make a very interesting and thought provoking storyline but this is not the case with this game.
To be honest, as the storyline pretty much a disappointment, I thought for sure the gameplay was going to pick up the slack. The previews of this game really made it seems like a great first person shooter, and at the beginning it does seem like it could be. You actually fight alongside other team mates, and this actually really helps the game because it offers up something that is different from most other games. What that means is they actually help take out the bad guys. With all of this being said once you look past that your ammunition isn’t the only one going off the game doesn’t do a whole lot new. The whole single player mode in general is just a typical first person experience that has you go from room to room killing everything in sight and then repeating that same tactic until you complete the game. Overall the single player is very standard and doesn’t do much in terms of making this genre any better then it was before this game was released.
But of course since this is a first person shooter the game could not be complete without the multiplayer. Sure enough, Area 51 does include Xbox Live support for up to sixteen players. The one unfortunate thing about the online support is that although it runs very smooth, the amount of options in the game is pretty limited. You have your typical capture the flag and Deathmatch modes, as well as a new mode called Infection, which to be honest isn’t overly exciting. The one thing that kept running through my mind throughout the multiplayer in this game was why would I need to play this online over some of the other first person shooters on the market, and I honestly couldn’t find an answer to that question.
Overall the gameplay of Area 51 really is good, but I think in this time period of the Xbox’s lifespan, especially with how saturated this system is with FPS, I found it not as satisfying as so many other first person shooters that have already been released.
When I look at Area 51 I found that the gameplay was average, but to be honest I really did enjoy the visual aspect of the game. My reason for this is that the developers did a really nice job cleaning everything up in this game to a style that just looked polished from start to finish. The character models, although maybe not the best we have seen, surely have a great sense of detail and artistic flavor.
The environments in the game are also very nicely created with very good use of color and enough detail to make them from seeming repetitive. Overall the visuals of Area 51 are very smooth and crisp, and that in turn enables this game to be such a good looking game like it is.
Like I mentioned earlier, the gameplay of Area 51 is good, so don’t misunderstand me there, it’s just like we have been here and done this way too many times to care a whole heck of a lot. Even being a fan of the Area 51 games of the past, I must say that the story and the gameplay both had very little to no appeal to me, and therefore I really was just not overly into this game. The action was good, the multiplayer was decent, but the overall compilation to me just wasn’t a whole lot of fun.
When I look at Area 51 I see a game that I think just never really got over that invisible barrier that really would have allowed it to be a mainstream FPS. Instead they just hang with the group of average games that are worth a rental but probably nothing more then that.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.