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May 30 2007
Blacksite: Area 51 - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
6/3/2008Red AntMidwayMidway Studios Austin
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
12-?$109.95
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You think these friends will save you?
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Lighting and texturing impresses.

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Enemy design is spectacular.
Certainly one of the best shooters during the PS2's lifetime was a game by Midway called Area 51. The alien invasion based First Person Shooter had some fantastic set pieces (who can ever forget the shootout on the fake moon landing set?) as well as some superb graphics. It has been two years since that game was released, and now Midway are putting the finishing touches on a highly anticipated sequel, Blacksite: Area 51. In a move that will likely cause some PS2 owners to become upset Midway have skipped to the next-generation with this game only due out on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC this September.

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Getting too close for comfort.
Much of the storyline in Blacksite: Area 51 hasn't been revealed by Midway as yet. All that has been released is this rather interesting statement on the official site which points to a non-linear plot running through the game... "The player’s modern-day emotions and fears are driven into a world charged with grave responsibility affecting lives hanging in the balance and eventually finding himself torn between his professional orders and his own ethical standards." Time will tell how strong the storyline is in this FPS - it is, after all, a genre which rarely makes an impression in this regard.

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Just hanging around the petrol station.
In this squad based action title you play the role of Aeran Pierce in a battle with aliens which, we assume given the title, have links with the super-secret Area 51 in America. You will be joined by two squad mates - Cody Grayson and Mitchell Ambrose each with their own skills and abilities. Interestingly according to the developers you will not only lead your squad, but if you perform well and they’ll rally behind you when the enemy brings the fight, but waver in the face of the enemy and their morale will sink accordingly, affecting their aim, their fatigue and the will to fight. Naturally you will also be able to order your squad mates around to perform a variety of complex actions, including planting C-4, sniping an enemy in the guard tower, or taking control of various vehicles.

Other things to note include the ability to drive vehicles including both military and civilian, or take a seat in the gunners position while you flow low over the combat zone in a helicopter raid. The developers are also promising multiple paths to 'solve the problems' which we assume means complete the levels.

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Characters in the game all look brilliant.
The developers are also including a host of online multi-player modes, however at this stage the number of players remains under wraps. Still, in terms of game modes the developers are including Death- Match, Team-Death-Match and Capture-the-Flag. All-new, unique modes will also be available in the form of Human vs. Reborn mode and the new Siege mode, where teams try to capture each other’s squad members on the way to controlling territory. It appears all the right boxes are ticked in this area. We also believe, but don't have confirmation as yet, that the developers are looking at implementing a co-op mode in the game.

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Check out the textures on the footpath!
Graphics in Blacksite: Area 51 are nothing short of spectacular. Using a highly modified and optimised version of Unreal Engine 3, the first thing that hits you is the stunning texturing, lighting, weather effects and explosions found in each of the levels. The rain, in particular, looks extremely realistic and ensures there are some gorgeous reflections of wet surfaces such as roads and footpaths. Also noteworthy are the stunning alien designs throughout the game. Overall Blacksite: Area 51 looks like being one of the best games we've seen on the PS3 to date.

With a release currently scheduled for February 15 2008 Blacksite: Area 51 is a game we can't wait to get our hands on - although out excitement has been dampened by the games own developers turning against the game and describing a nightmarish development. If you're lucky enough to own a XBox 360 then I believe there's a demo available now - as for a PS3 demo through the Playstation Store, well, we don't have confirmation of that but we could only hope one will come out soon. This looks like another superb, albeit not exclusive, game in the PS3 roster late this year.