After more than 5 years of its release, Area 51 still lives to give quite a solid punch.
Quietpower09 wrote this review on .
- 10-12 hour campaign.
- Good graphics.
- Wide variety of weapons ranging from human guns to alien technology.
- Immersive environments.
- Good character development.
- Smart artificial intelligent enemies.
- Decent replay value.
- Gameplay can be repetitive.
- Multiplayer isn't quite fun.
- I don't think it's possible to duel-wield shotguns unless you have arms of a terminator or unless you're willing to break your arms.
- Voice acting could've been better, but wasn't.
- Story descends from interesting to boring after 3 hours of playing through the campaign.
- Soundtrack is quite weak.
I remember at the age of 13, I played an arcade game of Area 51. Basically there were two plastic guns, and your objective is to use these weapons and shoot the enemies from the screen. After more than 3 years, a remastered version of Area 51 was released in stores! Except this time there were no plastic guns nor was it an arcade game, but rather a real first-person shooter. But was it worth it? My answer to you is YES.
Area 51 is in the setting in Area 51 (obviously) where something had gone terribly wrong. Ethan Cole, the main protagonist, along with the HAZMAT Team must go inside Area 51 and search for the problem. From there, they must fix the problem, send the reports to the government, and get out. To give minor spoilers, Ethan Cole was soon isolated from his team and goes deeper and deeper into Area 51. Alongside, he meets several strange allies whom they will help Cole to fix this problem. However if Cole fails to cooperate, then quite literally the entire Earth will soon end in destruction.
When the game comes to graphics, it is pretty sharp! Once you played this game, you'll immediately be immersed by Area 51's setting. There will be hallways, laboratories, tech labs, all broken and in bloody and destroyed chaos. As you play deeper into the campaign, there will be more alien environments which will make you believe if these technologies are actually real.
Like other first-person shooters, Area 51 has guns and more guns. For your weaponry, you use assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, and sniper rifles. Something interesting of Area 51 is that there is a capability of duel-wielding assault rifles and shotguns. Deeper into the game, you can use alien weaponry such as a strange burst-fire gun which recharges over time. Also there are alien grenades which can give good punishment to pestering aliens.
When it comes to gameplay, Area 51 is quite fun. Because you have all these different and powerful guns, and for the fact you can duel-wield assault rifles and shotguns, you'd feel as though you're going Rambo on all these poor aliens! Even your primary-given pistol can punch an enemy within its clip of 8 bullets. However after going through 5 hours through the campaign, the gameplay can be quite repetitive.
The aliens, ranging from infected scientists, infected soldiers, tiny alien spiders, and soldiers can be pretty boring to constantly shoot at them. However that is not to say that the aliens are dumb. The standard infected aliens are bloodthirsty creatures eagerly wanting to kill you. The alien soldiers are clever enough to use cover when they're in heavy fire, use grenades to flush you out of cover, and flank too.
I've played good games that has extremely well voice acting (Mass Effect, Final Fantasy X, Halo 3, Gears of War), but I have some mixed reactions when it comes to Area 51. To begin, Ethan Cole's voice acting didn't live up to good expectations. You'd expect him talking rapidly, as though paranoid and afraid that a nearby alien would jump and tear him to pieces. Good hypothesis, but no. Ethan Cole talks as though Midway hired an extremely bored stranger with an extremely boring voice, and chose him to do the voice acting of Ethan Coles now extremely boring voice. There are interesting things he say before the loading times, but with no emotion from his voice, you could literally fall asleep from his boring lullaby. As for everyone in the game, there voice acting is great! It seems realistic hearing your squad team panting and desperate, as though they're in Area 51, fighting waves after waves of aliens, and fighting for their lives!! Same goes to all the other soldiers in the facility. When they get shot, they yelp from pain. When they're reloading, they yell with desperate voices that they're reloading, and much more. Even the alien voice acting sound realistic when they're growling and screaming while attacking you or being shot to death. Why Ethan Cole's voice acting sucks, is beyond my understanding.
Music plays a pretty big role in video games. When you hear a soft melodic song to a strong hardcore song, you'd be either relaxed or eager for action. Area 51's music doesn't live up the expectations of good music. The music played in Area 51 have songs that have good alien up-beats ranging to music that doesn't sound like music at all, but rather one single beat played one time, then wait 30 more seconds for that beat to play again. The music is played pretty quietly though. In fact it's quiet enough for you not to notice it unless you listen intently to hear that not-worth-listening- music. That is not to say the overall soundtrack is bad. There are songs that fits perfectly well while you're doing this certain objective or while you're with your squad team. But overall, you'd prefer grabbing your iPod or MP3 and listen your enjoyable songs instead.
The multiplayer in Area 51 fits quite well. You have your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, and more. From my limited multiplayer experience, the only good aspect which makes multiplayer unique was the number of avatars whom you can choose to become during the matches. You can become a HAZMAT soldier with different colors, or become someone else whom you'll discover later. Each multiplayer match is has its fast-paced shooting due to its small and medium sized maps. Sadly the multiplayer isn't as exciting at all. Becuase Midway stopped the production of Area 51, there aren't much users playing this game - sometimes causing lack of players for an average sized team. The multiplayer can be pretty repititive too, causing you to turn off the console after 30 minutes and play other exciting games like Uncharted 2 or Halo or LittleBigPlanet.
And last but not least is replay value. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of any video game because you wouldn't want a game sitting on your shelf collecting dust or being cheated from Gamestop with their terrible bargain of buying games. To me, replay value means I would be playing this certain game after 30+ years and enjoy its fun despite its age (i.e. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, Super Mario Bros. 3). The good news is Area 51 has replay value! Throughout the campaign, there are these certain articles whch you must scan using this technological scanner. From there, you unlock these videos from Dr. Crey (someone whom will be aiding you in Area 51) of his certain experiences and some dark secrets of Area 51. Once you've beaten the campaign once, you now have the privilege to play the campaign again on the Hard difficulty and unlock a secret avatar for multiplayer. As for the bad news of Area 51's replay value, it isn't very worthwhile. After you've played through the campaign at least once, you'll be thinking the articles aren't worth searching for and the hidden avatar wouldn't matter to you anyway.
So if you're considering playing a good futuristic first-person shooter, then Area 51 is for you. These games are rare, and if search on Amazon or Ebay, a new copy would be worth at least $80 minimum. Luckily I bought a used copy at Gamestop for $20 plus tax. If you've also been a fan of Area 51 during its arcade years, then you won't be disappointed with this newly remastered version. In fact, it will bring a lot of nostalgia. Overall Area 51 is a good shooter for many fans to enjoy.