BlackSite: Area 51 is an amalgamation of everything we've seen a million times before. It's got aliens invading our planet. It's got beefy soldiers running around and shooting those aliens. It's even got the generic desert landscapes on which such clichéd action invariably unfolds. So why, in a holiday season packed with triple-A marquee shooters, are we still so excited to play it?
The answer is buried beneath the game's testosterone-laced surface. Despite all the sci-fi military trappings aimed squarely at the young male demographic, BlackSite: Area 51 is an adult game, and one with a decidedly adult message.
Take the enemies. The first time you encounter a slobbering beast with tentacles crawling out of its throat and bubbly lesions pulsating across its skin, you'll probably want to slaughter the wretched thing as soon as possible. But how will you feel when you discover that the creature is, in truth, a disabled war veteran? Will your trigger finger hesitate when you learn that its disfigured state was caused by the United States government's experimentation? The government you're fighting for in the first place?
The secrecy and lies don't end there - they are a running theme throughout the BlackSite experience. The Reborn, as the former humans are known, have more than unsettling creepiness on their side. They control armies of real aliens and spread viral spores, the existence of both having been kept from the public for years. Don't expect your heroic attempt at stopping the invasion to make the evening news, either. The only way the majority of the nation will ever find out is if you fail.
Most of this plot is fictional, if pointed, allegory for the frustrating times we live in, but BlackSite: Area 51 is not afraid to get specific. Flashback missions will reveal the war in question to be the real Iraqi one. Your squad mate is a New Orleans native who will often mention Hurricane Katrina in conversation. Developers used the recent controversies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Abu Ghraib as story inspiration while certain missions will take their name from infamous political quotes like President Bush's "Mission accomplished."