X FILES MEETS FIRST PERSON SHOOTER
Area 51. The conspiracy is no longer a theory. Intrigued? No? Well let's look at what this game features. 'Battle an enemy unlike you've never faced.' Well there's admittedly hundreds of hulking freaks out there to blast in the face, look at DOOM 3. 'Mutate and experience amazing alien abilities.' This might sound innovative, but reality will hit you with an explosion; the whole mutant gimmick is frankly an afterthought to make this game stand out in the most crowded genre on the X-Box. 'Intensify the combat with online multiplayer action.' Not being a Live owner, I don't know whether this feature is as intense as Midway advertises, but I played this on split-screen and it was unremarkable. These days, a shooter without Live play is like Scotland without bagpipes, so it's obvious that Midway flung in this feature because it's now a standard; there appears to be no hard work or love lavished into the online experience.
So, if the Live is nothing to boast about, what with the Halo 2's of this world, what of the single-player? The truth is, it's quite enjoyable. It's not going to give Pariah, DOOM 3 or Halo 2 any trouble, but the whole alienation thing really gives this game the guts to stand up on its own. The plot starts off in pretty familiar territory though. 'Genetic experiments and horrible tests lead to an outbreak of aliens', but it eventually steamrollers out into a deeper one than your average shooter. And this particular outbreak of mutants is not your bog-standard excuse for things to shoot at. If you want millions of moving things to blast, you should get this game. The whole single-player is an avalanche of charisma from start-to-finish, and it's accompanied by crappy cutscenes voiced by David Duchovny. It's so bloody frantic it's unbelievable. Eerie mutant breathing is the main sound effect on offer, and millions of the freak swiftly leap into your position, resulting in machine gun fire, machine gun fire, and machine gun fire. In the end, your squad dies, the mutants are killed, and you get infected, and then the mystery of Area 51 really kicks you in the eyes. Lots of strategy and tactics are needed in later levels, which generally splits the game in two parts; the no-holds-barred shooting gallery, and the deep, intense, tactical skirmishes of the ending. The fact remains that it's a great blaster, albeit one that isn't particularly innovative.