Area 51

1_1If you’ve been in an arcade in the 90s, you’ve probably seen some variation of the Area 51 light-gun arcade game. You may have even picked up one of the garishly colored plastic guns, dropped in some quarters, and busted some imaginary caps into splateriffic two dimensional alien soldiers. And you probably had a good time doing it for a while, before wandering off to play something else. Like all things that demonstrate a modicum of success, someone had the brilliant idea to bring it over to another market and try to squeeze some more cash out of it.

Reinvented as a fairly stock first-person shooter, it provides a modest amount of entertaining, if fairly no-frills, shooting. There’s a totally nonsensical story—dispassionately narrated by David Duchovny of X-Files fame (who, if there is any justice in the world, would receive a lifetime ban from ever doing game voice acting based on this performance) — and a little gameplay wrinkle by which you can transform and gain a kind of vampiric attack, but it’s never achieves anything other than being just so-so. The weapons are uninspired, as are the levels, and the enemies are just barely smart enough to move towards you and attack.

Much of the story and overall mythos of the game is developed through these items, and if you simply play through the game without exploring and accessing these, you will find yourself scratching your head quite often trying to figure out what’s happening. My complaint remains that you cannot access the information in-game like you could in Metroid prime, which would have encouraged more emphasis on finding these scan-able objects and items.

17_1Your in-game weapons are fairly standard, featuring the pistol, automatic rifle, shotgun, and sniper rifle, among others. This game likes dual weapons wielding and certainly two shotguns at once make for some nice action. When you run out of ammo, though, you immediately drop the second weapon and reload only one of them. Outside of these, you find the usual bevy of grenades, both the standard fragmentation grenades and the much more powerful JB grenades, which have a plasma look and feel to them.

These are but few highlights in an otherwhise fairly formulaic game. Like most shooters these days, Area 51 isn’t very long, nor is it very hard. It isn’t horrible, and for bargain bin price, it’s an okay buy for a temporary diversion. But until then, give it a pass.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 GHz, 512 MB RAM, WinXP

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