|You know you've got a good product when you're 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
Killer," I immediately know what the standard of measurement is. I first heard this
term buzzing around the release of Sony's 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 I've
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 I'm not a huge fan of
first person shooters, since I always kind of enjoyed the mid-90's 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 don't think we're too far off from a day where games
become platform indistinguishable. A great soundtrack accompanies the game?s 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 you'll 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 game's plot however cliche'd (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 51's 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.