reviewed on PC
Deus Ex or Daikatana
Blacksite: Area 51 is Midway’s latest attempt on a FPS. While it has certainly flown under the radar it has more than one thing good to it. If we’d lived in a world a little less harsh on the non homunculus projects it could have been at least a success. The sad thing is that we don’t and in this industry a game’s either Deus Ex or Daikatana and I guarantee you: Blacksite is not a cult classic. The developers have their big share of blame, delivering a game that feels half baked and could have been oh so much better. But here we are, with Blacksite: Area 51 released and with tons of other FPSes asking for our attention what else has this game to offer us?
The story catches the United States in the midst of a civil war against the Reborn, consisting on the mutated remains of war veterans, who have a big problem with the US government and intend to solve it the Chuck Norris way. The biggie starts when an extraterrestrial meteorite starts mutating all kind of animals and humans into your regular sticky buggy aliens that just want to eat the hell out of you. These are called Xenos. The Reborn get a hold of the spores that cause these mutations and want to release it on the US as a biological weapon. You and your squad are there to prevent it.
A big point of interest here is that Blacksite's lead designer is Harvey Smith, known for his work on System Shock, the Thief series and Deus Ex. For those unaware, Deus Ex had a lot of political subjects on the table and some of them trespass into Area 51's domain. Things like lack of recognition for veterans, human experiments on war prisoners and homeless Americans, foreign policy and the shock of war on American soil are constantly addressed in Blacksite. These little details are actually the most interesting parts of the plot because the whole set of characters are forgettable. If there was a little more character development and less easy puns you could easily get involved with the plot. Hearing in-game non-scripted random rambling of your teammate Grayson about how inexcusable war on American soil is, says more about him than bearing him talk about how he just wants to shoot something. The story plays out right down in the middle of cheesy character personalities that kill the fairly good voice acting and a plot that isn't deeper than a few remarks here and there. But it all fits the game's fast and furious gameplay.
The way Blacksite gets you to do the killing is simply put, fast paced. For instance, weapons aren’t nearly as varied as the enemies. Like it or not, Blacksite almost forces you to use the reliable M4A1 rifle, that will accompany you from start to finish. While having more weapons as you progress would easily be more rewarding, there won’t be much need for switching weapons at every situation. You will handle them with the M4 at your disposal, which proves worthy of the task. You’ve got about 700 spare bullets at all times, an excessive amount of grenades (although one can never get enough grenades) and a secondary weapon like a scoped SCAR or a pistol. The game provides you with just enough tools for the carnage. It doesn’t bother with customizing or even choosing. While you’ve got enough bullets to take out a small country, the freedom of just throwing grenades without really caring how many you have left is priceless.
Other arcade-ish feature is the inclusion of the regenerating health ala Halo, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Gears of War, Call of Duty 4 and almost every other recent shooter. Surprisingly enough, there’s no cover to speak of, a feature that is starting to get standardized and that games like Vegas or Gears proved doesn’t slow down the gameplay one bit. Besides those simple features, there’s a few more that may be a little more complex but clearly lack polish.
No Pros and Cons at this time