FutureFive NZ - Blacksite: Area 51 – Xbox 360

Warning: This story was published more than a year ago.

Blacksite: Area 51 – Xbox 360

In the current climate of next generation gaming, the market is being swamped by first-person shooters, and for the most part it is a logical outcome. The successful combination of next-gen console hardware and the physics of the FPS results in an unrivalled gaming experience that other genres, for all their valiant attempts, have not been able to match. Proof of this can be found in such titles as Gears of War, Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. However this saturation of the market is starting to take its toll on the industry and a trend for developers to churn out mediocre FPS titles has emerged in what seems to be a bid to ride the wave of success created by the aforementioned titles. Sadly Blacksite: Area 51 falls into this latter category and does not join Gears of War and COD4 in the pantheon of champion FPS titles, despite the significant hype surrounding the concept leading up to its release.

From start to finish Blacksite’s narrative is ambiguous at worst and frustrating at best, revealing the plot painfully slowly and quite often refusing to piece things together. The game places you in the shoes of Aeran Pierce, commander of an elite division call the Echo Squad. Pierce’s squad has been tasked with investigating a series of mysterious incidents involving dealing to some not-quite-human beasties that seem a tad disgruntled with the way things are being run in the good old US of A and decide to wreak havoc.

Blacksite operates like your typical run of the mill FPS; you run, jump and shoot anything that gets in your way. The hardware designated for dispatching your foes is your typical military mixture of pistols, machine guns, snipers and shotguns with a few other-worldy pieces like the scatter gun, a weapon that fire multiple rounds that ricochet of walls, thrown in for good measure. A squad mechanic allows you to direct your squad mates to move to new locations, focus fire on a selected enemy, and take up mounted gun positions by pressing the squad button. While this may sound exciting, but your squad mates very rarely respond to your directions as you intended, and quite often end up getting lost or even completely disregarding your commands. So nine times out of ten it is more effective to commando in to a battle situation solo and hope your squad will mop up the stragglers.

Blacksite’s redeeming feature lies in its strong graphical presentation that contends with the best of them, but even its gorgeous visuals do not rescue the game from the tedious and boringly typical gameplay. In the sound department, the game is supported by some solid but not amazing voice acting, and the music and sound effects
effectively accompany the mood of the action and settings. Blacksite also supports an online feature that allows up to ten players to play together in a woeful collection of game modes. For fans of the First person shooter Blacksite is worth the hire, but game critics will find it hard to enjoy the unoriginal gameplay and lacking narrative.

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