Thoughts on the BlackSite: Area 51 demo

As I write this, I’m waiting for the Forza Motorsport 2 demo to finish downloading, and for some reason, it’s rolling along at paint-peeling speed. In the meantime, I got to try out the BlackSite: Area 51 demo earlier this morning. It certainly looks nice enough, especially since the whole demo is using rain effects. But after seeing the rain in Gears, I had slightly higher standards … and I’m not sure they were met.

Anyway, the demo puts you in a town called Rachel, which is being swarmed by alien lifeforms. You’re the point man on the three-man squad (like GRAW) sent in to clean up the place. All I was able to do in the demo in terms of tactics was use the right bumper to order my guys to go in a certain direction. In the finished product, how you lead determines the kind of morale or energy your team members have. If you keep leading them to danger, there’s a chance they won’t like fighting for you much longer.

I kept trying to break the habit of applying Rainbow Six Vegas covering techniques to this. The left trigger is the zoom button (like Gears), and I resorted to simply moving and crouching behind solid objects for cover. Fighting the aliens reminded me a lot of Resistance: Fall of Man, but without any strange weapons to use. Well, it is the demo … perhaps there’s some strange plasma cannon I can use in the finished product. Who knows?

I’ll say one thing … these freakin’ aliens can take a lot of bullets. I spent a considerable amount of time hurling obscenities at these tall creatures whose torsos disassembled from the rest of their bodies and crawled toward you after getting shot. And they exploded. These guys are going to loads of fun in the finished product. You do a lot of fighting in a gas station, so I got to see how the game handled medium-sized explosions. Decent, but nothing that brought a tear to my eye.

The coolest visual treat happened at the end, when some flaming alien being slams into the ground in front of you, decimating a store and sending a shockwave that ends up flinging a bunch of parked cars at you and your squad. Upon impact, the game slows down, Matrix style. Part of it is for dramatic effect … the other part, I imagine, is so you can avoid getting a faceful of station wagon.