Area 51 review

GamesMaster holds its own in Midway's first-person alien-shooter

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Most FPS titles have you running around while shooting at everything else that's running around. But Area 51, in its opening stages at least, is tenser than that: you've got to stand still while hell breaks loose around you.

Sweeping through a ruined and still-burning underground science complex, Area 51 begins by throwing more enemies at you in one go than most games manage per level, and it's your job to hold your ground without being overrun by them.

It's a rush, that's for sure. Moody looks and an effective selection of sounds keep you on the tip of your bladder, as you get swamped from all sides by dangerous freaks. But, like all highs, Area 51's lows have an unpleasant side-effect: it can feel dull and repetitive all too quickly.

Still, there's some compulsion to see what ambush or twisted plot development awaits you around the next corner, giving you a boost when your adrenaline gland has shot its load.

And there's a dose of variety in the range of weapons and the fact that the lead character ends up more mutant than man - able to turn enemies against one another, eventually - but it never goes beyond feeling like an enjoyable, balls-out shooter. Well, except from its extremely well-crafted atmosphere...

Flashing lights? Dribbling, howling idiots falling over one another? An oppressive environment filled with deafening bangs? The prospect of contracting a nasty virus? Area 51 is probably more like a rock nightclub than any other shooter yet.

It's noisy, simple and effective, which is very satisfying for those wanting a thrill, but anyone after something along the lines of Halo's tactic-heavy skirmishes will find the game soon turns into another boring drone.

Area 51 is out for PS2, Xbox and PC on 20 May

More info

US censor rating"","","",""
UK censor rating"15","15","15","15"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)