It takes a very good selling point to make it into the arena of first person shooters that already exists, and even more guile to force your way through the Halo influenza that still envelops New Zealand. Blacksite: Area 51 follows a commando of the U.S. Marines in a turbulent ride through alien-infested Rachel, Nevada. The game will no doubt provide an abundance of guns and aliens to slaughter your way into a good ten hour chunk of your life, as well as a multiplayer mode to provide many more hours of classic first person shooter action.
Blacksite begins like most modern-day first person shooters – in Iraq. You are Aeran (pronounced 'Aron') Pierce, a special forces commando for the United States military. Aeran is charged with the task of finding weapons caches in Iraq and to neutralize any resistance encountered. During the raid Aeran comes across some strange technology and even stranger things. These things turn out to be space aliens with one particular agenda: kill all human life. After killing them and then reporting the incident to headquarters, Aeran is told to forget what he saw and report back to base immediately. He has a new mission.
If the story and setting of Blacksite isn't enough to satisfy your lust for more shoot-'em-in-the-face then you may be delighted to hear about the squad control. Instead of giving the player a large variety of options and tactics to control their troops with - which can be a bit overkill at times - you are gifted with a magical one-touch button. Simply point over an area and hit the button and your troops will move there, highlight an enemy and your troops will concentrate their fire on it. This one-touch tactical command button adds flow to the game – which makes the whole gameplay experience much more fluid.
As well as the easy command feature, Blacksite features a morality system that affects your troops and their ability to fight. Say for example you are unable to hold back the advance of your enemy, your squad will start retreating and firing their weapons with the accuracy of a flying whale. This is bad news for the player as the squad is necessary to keep the heat off you and the pressure on your foes. If you start kicking some ugly extra-terrestrial butt however, your team mates will go gun-toting nut crazy and begin a mass slaughter of the enemy. Maintain your skill and you and your squad will succeed; cower like a cat and you will find yourself knee-deep in hostile projectiles.
Blacksite is shaping up to be another dish on the table for FPS gamers. Simple controls, big enemies, and bad (ass) weapons mean you can expect Blacksite: Area 51 to rock your world - and if not, the aliens will rock it for you. Keep a nose out around the fantastic month of November on the Xbox 360 and PC and if you happen to be a PS3 owner? Well you will have to wait until May 2008. Until then keep an eye to the skies, you never know when NZGamer.com is going to crash down and invade your suburb with a full review of the game.
The Good: An arcade-like shooter with a slight touch of squad control.
The Bad: More aliens than you can poke a machine gun at.
The Ugly: Tedious multiplayer.