Format: PS2
Midway Games


5 037930 071799
Age Restrictions: 15+
29 April 2005

The U.S. Army has received a distress signal from Area 51 where a viral outbreak has just shut down the research facility and the automated quarantine procedures have locked all scientific and military personnel inside. A small Special Forces unit including specialist Ethan Cole of the HAZMAT (hazardous materials) division is sent to investigate. As Cole, players delve into the massive levels within the confines of Area 51, only to discover a deadly mutagenic side effect of the virus that controls the minds of those infected, as well as an ancient alien colony buried beneath the facility. Cole must solve the enigma of Area 51 before the viral mutagen is released and irrevocably mutates all life on Earth...

Most of you will already be aware of the rumours surrounding Area 51, and the fact that it doesn't supposedly exist (if the US government is to be believed). This game opens at the same start point as the original 1994 Coin Op - right in the thick of the action.

Shortly after an unusual viral outbreak has occurred deep within the confines of the facility, you're sent in to investigate the disappearance of numerous scientists, shooting your way through five massive levels. There's no telling what sort of biologically altered enemies you'll face, in was has to be one of the best looking PlayStation shooters I've ever seen. If you want to get technical, there's bump mapping, specular lighting and z-buffering to the max, but in English, it just looks really, really great.

Game play is broken up in new ways also, with players meeting up with another squad of soldiers in the middle of a battle with a swarm of mutants. Pinned down, as the enemies continue waves of attacks, players will have to arm a pair of giant gun turrets and prepare them for use. After these turrets are ready to go a pair of soldiers will take charge of them as and you can enjoy watching a few waves of mutants getting mowed down by the awesome firepower of the turrets. Then you get a chance to man one of the turrets, unleashing the most impressive display of firepower that these mutants have and will ever see.

The lighting really does play a part in the later levels, with dark corridors and empty rooms only brought to life by the reflection of fire from the walls, making a deeply immersive experience. Oh, and did I mention that David Duchovny provides the voice for the main character in the game? It's probably because his voice is the same in every single role he plays. If you can imagine someone falling asleep while reading a script, you're pretty close. Otherwise, the audio in the game matches up to the visuals, with different sounds for each weapon, extensive team audio, and a more than adequate supply of screaming mutants.

While the multiplayer part of the game could've done a little more than provide another game mode, the single player experience alone is worth the price, and I'm sure you'll enjoy a few hours exploring the worlds most secret underground base... Allegedly!

Gareth Williams

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