The truth is out there… Area 51 the most mysterious facility on the planet, where buried deep within the complex you’ll find alien space ship technology, secret experiments all surround by wired fences and security that will shoot first rather than ask questions. What a back drop for a great game revolving around conspiracy-theories, aliens and government lies. A perfect fit for David Duchovny, the star of the most famous conspiracy-theory show, The X Files. David provides the voice-over acting for the main character, Specialist Ethan Cole.The story starts out with a distress call from Area 51, a special Hazmat team is dispatched to contain the situation. You take the role of Specialist Ethan Cole, and follow his team as they explore each vast level of Area 51 searching for the source of the viral outbreak. The team soon learns that the outbreak is actually an alien mutagen that changes a human into a controlled alien beast. The story unfolds as each level of the game is completed to reveal the Roswell crash site, ancient alien colonies, autopsies, and the faked lunar landing stage.
Consider this game as a sequel to Midway’s first two famous quarter sucking arcade light gun games. This third installment is a first person shooter with a hint of arcade action which makes this game different than those other first person games like Halo, and Doom. The game graphics come close to Xbox’s Halo and Doom, but puts more emphasis on balanced visuals of graphics and details. Visually the game is stunning for the PS2 hardware, better then Killzone overall. Details remain intact at close range as well as far, with no hardware glitches or drop outs. A good amount of detail and texturing is put into the characters and end bosses. The lighting effects are also very good, especially with your weapon’s fires and explosions. Cut scene graphics are very detailed and smooth. Overall the graphic engine performs well on the PS2 platform and is a pleasant surprise.
I am a fan of X Files’ David Duchovny, and he basically brought over his character from the TV show and integrates him to Ethan. Most reviewers thought the voice was not motivational and sort of dry, but that’s how he played the character in X Files. David basically narrates the game cut scenes, and adds a story line to the game, which is different than other First Person Shooters (FPS) which concentrate on body counts. Sound effects are in line with other FPS’s, and the alien weapons have a cool sound to them when they are charging and fired.
Game play is typical of a FPS. Area 51 adds the feature of clever use of leaning buttons, so you can take cover, peek out the side and shoot away. It also has the typical jump button, and snipe modes. The most noticeable game play is the element of mutation. That’s right our hero Ethan gets infected with the virus and has the ability to switch back and forth from mutant to human, which adds a little bit of strategy to the game. Plus Area 51 adds a little bit of scavenger hunt to the game where you must locate items to unlock additional cut scenes and weapons upgrades. Single player mode is just long enough to complete the game within a reasonable time and single player replay value is OK if you want to go back and unlock the additional Cut Scenes.
Replay value is one of the strong points for Area 51 with the two player split screen, and online play. Everything online is fluid, fun and no lag. All the weapons in online mode are very balanced, so it takes a little skill and or luck to win a match. Clan gameplay, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and capture and hold are the main team based games. If you’re a hot-dogger and want to strut your stuff try the challenging infection mode.
Overall I enjoyed playing the game. Area 51 has some refreshing content that did not fall into the body count type FPS. Being a Sci-Fi head I enjoyed the story line behind the Area 51 complex and being able to frag aliens just gave it a natural feel to the game. This is a must have in your PS2 library.
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