Area 51 Review

Area 51 comes up short in gameplay, graphics, and sound effects.

Every once in a while, a company releases a computer game that sets new standards for the industry - offering outstanding graphics, stunning sound, and truly addictive gameplay. Area 51 is not that game. A repetitive, derivative shooter that offers nothing in the way of original features, Area 51 is inferior to many of its predecessors. For fans of the genre, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, and even Doom are far better choices.

Area 51's plot involves an alien infection at the famous "secret" military base. You are a soldier, a member of the Special Tactical Advanced Alien Response Team. According to the manual, you have been trained to deal with this exact situation. (I question the "training" involved, when the manual later advised me, "shoot anything that moves.") Once past the opening screen, you are given several options to configure the program to your taste. Unfortunately, there's no setting available that makes the game interesting or fun. A practice mode allows you to shoot mindlessly at the mutants until you've vented your anger at paying good money for the program. One positive note is the ability to adjust the mouse sensitivity - it has a tremendous influence on your accuracy.

Once you've begun the game, you're off on what literally looks like a roller-coaster ride. The graphics are low-res, which allows for an impressive frame rate. Your task is simply to shoot everything that moves, except for members of your team. You have no control over how you move or where you move. You simply shoot at barrels, ammo crates, windows, paintings (?!?), machinery, and the occasional mutant. The game may actually retain your interest the first time you play. Once you replay it, though, you'll realize how little randomness is involved. If you play it enough, you'll be able to hit the mutants simply because you have memorized their locations. When you die, enter your initials into the Roll of Honor; after all, anyone who plays this game long enough to qualify deserves some sort of reward.

Area 51 comes up short in gameplay, graphics, and sound effects. Many shooters crowd the PC game market, but this one has very little to recommend it. If you see it on a store shelf, be afraid. Be very afraid.

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    Area 51 (1995) More Info

  • First Released November 1995
    • Arcade Games
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation
    • Saturn
    Area 51 is a shooting game starring a soldier from the elite S.T.A.A.R. forces, sent into Area 51 to eliminate a deadly alien infection that has spread throughout the base.
    Average Rating388 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Atari Games (Midway), Midway, Tantalus Interactive, Mesa Logic
    Published by:
    Atari Games (Midway), GT Interactive, Soft Bank, Midway, Tec Toy
    Light-Gun, Shooter, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Realistic Violence