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Video Game Vintage Title: BlackSite: Area 51

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BlackSite: Area 51

BlackSite: Area 51

BlackSite: Area 51 is a horror science fiction first-person shooter video game, released for Xbox 360 and Windows on November 12, 2007 in North America, with a PlayStation 3 version coming a few weeks later. The game is mostly unrelated to the 2005 Multi-platform game Area 51. The game was developed by Midway Austin and published by Midway. A demo of the game for the Xbox 360 was released via Xbox Live Marketplace on May 11, 2007. A PS3 demo was released December 11, 2007.

The game has been noted for its cynical political commentary, which challenges the often black and white viewpoint of many first person shooters with an unusually messy and nebulous situation. Characters comment on the injustice of the military's treatment of prisoners or wounded soldiers, the ethics of torture and other controversial subjects related to the War on Terror. Many level names are plays on speeches or comments made by members of the Bush administration regarding the Iraq War, i.e. "Last Throes", "Stay the Course" and "Misunderestimate".

BlackSite: Area 51 Plot

The game begins with Captain Aeran Pierce and the rest of his Delta Force Echo Squad being sent to investigate a supposed weapons bunker in Iraq. They are accompanied by the head of an elite science team, Doctor Noa Weis. Inside the bunker, they find aliens, who call themselves Xenos, and humans mutated by an alien crystal found in the bunker. This crystal incapacitates Pierce and forces the squad to retreat. One member of the squad, Lieutenant Logan Somers, is left behind during the retreat.

Three years later, the Xenos have taken control of Area 51 with the aid of a heavily armed militia, and Echo Squad and Doctor Weis have been chosen to reclaim the base. They begin with the nearby town of Rachel, where they discover that the �militia� are actually cybernetically enhanced US soldiers known as Reborn. Echo Squad finds survivors in Rachel, but as they rescue the survivors, they find Lieutenant Somers, now a Reborn. Somers explains that that the Reborn program was a US supersoldier program that forcibly recruited from groups of people who could disappear without being noticed, such as the homeless or military without family. Because of the harsh experiments, one of them led an insurrection.

Back at base, they find out that Weis was in charge of the Reborn program, but it was shut down years ago and the soldiers sealed in Area 51. Somers led the Reborn to escape and seek revenge, using an alien crystal like the one Echo Squad found in Iraq. After the explanation, the Xenos and Reborn attack the base as Somers retreats back to Area 51. Echo Squad successfully repels the attack, then joins another military division in an assault on Area 51. During the assault, Pierce is captured and the rest of Echo Squad is killed.

Inside Area 51, Pierce discovers that the Xenos were actually created by spores emitted by the crystal, and that Somers is using the crystal to spread the spores across the surface of Earth. Weis helps Pierce escape his prison, then shuts down the crystal and defeats Somers in a shootout. The game ends with Pierce and Weis flying off to try to contain the Xenos spores.

BlackSite: Area 51 Gameplay

BlackSite: Area 51 features standard first-person shooter gameplay. It uses a regenerating health system; additionally the player's character can absorb relatively large amounts of gunfire before dying. The game features 6 different weapons, however only two weapons can be carried at the same time. The game also features the ability to use grenades and melee attacks. The game's main weapon, the M4 carbine, has a reflex sight that can be aimed through for zooming in on distant targets. The game does not feature the ability to lean around corners.

One of the main features of the game is squad tactics. For almost the entire game, the player will have a team of two A.I. controlled squadmates accompanying them. Squadmates can be ordered to move on a location, concentrate their fire on a specific enemy, man a mounted turret, or set explosive charges on certain items. Squad commands are given with a single button; the commands are context sensitive based on what the player points the cursor at. Squadmates cannot be killed, and will only be knocked out for a brief period after taking a certain amount of damage.

The game also features a morale system, where squad morale increases as the player kills enemies or scores headshots, and decreases as the player takes damage or as squadmates are injured or incapacitated. At high morale, squadmates fight much more effectively and can survive more damage, while at low morale they contribute much less to firefights, and are incapacitated much more easily.

The game also features several vehicle sections, where the player must drive a civilian van or military Humvee cross-country to reach a location, while dealing with enemy attacks. The player can exit the vehicle at any time to collect items, investigate buildings, or man the humvee's mounted machinegun.

The game features 6 different weapons that the player can use. 4 are real-world firearms, while 2 are fictional weapons based on alien technology.

The game received mixed reviews, receiving a metacritic rating (as of November 25, 2008) of 60 for Microsoft Windows, 62 for Xbox 360 and 56 for PlayStation 3.

On November 29, 2007 Harvey Smith, the game's designer, came out publicly to announce how ruined the game's development schedule was. He claimed the schedule caused the low reviews due to the fact they were not able to test the game properly. He lost his job at Midway soon after making this comment.









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