Area 51 (PS2)

Area 51
PS2/Xbox (2005)

You know youve got a good product when youre the yardstick everyone else compares themselves to. For example, in the 1980s there were two types of modems: Hayes, and Hayes compatible (which rarely were). So when I see games that claim to be the next Halo Killer, I immediately know what the standard of measurement is. I first heard this term buzzing around the release of Sonys Killzone (2004). While Killzone may have momentarily alleviated console envy for PS2 owners, eventually the excitement wore off and the game fell by the wayside. Recently Ive begun hearing the term again, this time attached to Area 51, the new first person shooter from Midway, available for both the PS2 and the Xbox. While Im not a huge fan of first person shooters, since I always kind of enjoyed the mid-90s Area 51 arcade game I thought I would give this new release a spin.

Imagine my surprise to learn that this game is not connected to the old Area 51 game at all. Whoops. Instead, this new incarnation of Area 51 is one of the best-looking first person shooters around. The in-game graphics are nothing short of jaw dropping. And the good news for PS2 owners is that the game looks equally amazing on both consoles. By the looks of this, I dont think were too far off from a day where games become platform indistinguishable. A great soundtrack accompanies the games awesome graphics as well, with lots of sound effects, music, and commentary (by Mr. David X-Files Duchovny himself) to draw you into the experience. Like Doom 3, Resident Evil 4, and several other recent games, I found myself getting more into this game than ever before (and jumping and flinching more often as well).

Inside Area 51 youll find lots of things to hide behind and lots of things to shoot at. I mean, lots and lots. Fans of science-fiction and government conspiracy theorists will probably enjoy the games plot however cliché (something about a virus outbreak), but knowing that most first person shooters give me a splitting headache within fifteen minutes of starting them, I skipped as much as I could and got right to killing aliens and viral-infected mutant employees (hey, I believe in equal rights) as fast as possible. True to form, within minutes fleshy-headed mutants were attacking me from every direction.

Area 51s multiple online and multiplayer modes should give gamers a reason to keep playing it for quite some time. Whether or not Area 51 becomes the Halo Killer Sony so desperately wants remains to be seen.

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