Blacksite: Area 51 Review

It’s not often that a game’s creative director steps out on a limb to openly lambaste the fruit of his labors. So when Harvey Smith called this game "So f#@%ed up," it was readily apparent that something must have happened that made him want to distance himself from his creation. As was the case with Mary Shelly’s classic, the result of this convoluted development is a monster of epic proportions. At first, Blacksite appears to be an adequate, if not underrated, shooter. However, after the introduction the game quickly devolves into a tedious, uninspired affair. Without the advent of new weapons or gameplay elements, each chapter plays nearly the same, resulting in a bland, monotonous shooter. In the end Blacksite is unable to capitalize on its strengths. Dozens of little issues begin to accumulate, marring and otherwise adequate game that eventually becomes a painful, entirely forgettable experience.
Somebody woke up angry…
Taking place in a modern setting, Blacksite places you in the role of Commander Pierce. However, the ‘command’ aspects are half-baked and feel tacked on. You begin in the Middle East where you lead (follow) your rag- tag squad into battle, and every mission has you commanding different soldiers. This revolving nature of the cast hurts any characterization and results in little attachment to any of the faceless soldiers. This is not helped by the fact that your character Commander Pierce is similarly devoid of any personality, which works for games like Half Life 2 only because the NPCs picked up the slack with their colorful behaviors. In short, dull NPCs combined with a protagonist who has the personality of frozen yogurt result in an insubstantial experience you’re never able to care about.
The lack of a compelling narrative becomes compounded by the lack of gameplay mechanics. This title plays like a paint by numbers first person shooter with no paint included. The much hyped morale system is entirely forgettable and adds very little to the title, since your squad is almost entirely worthless even when its morale is high. Like many games, you can have them focus on a target, but in general, this just makes them walk into the open, fire a few rounds, and then stand still until their body is riddled with more holes than Swiss cheese. With only six weapons to choose from, you will find yourself feeling multiple moments of déjà vu for the length of the six hour story. Not only are the members of your squad complete wastes of pixilated oxygen, but the enemy AI is downright pathetic. The final boss fight is probably one of the biggest letdowns I have ever seen in a game. In fact, he is probably the easiest opponent in the game. Apparently he can’t hit you if you just walk in a circle around him. Blacksite did have a fun segment or two. The helicopter level mixes things up from a gameplay perspective and is graphically impressive, but this brief glimpse at what could have been can’t possibly make up for the abundance of missteps that ultimately define the game as a whole.
Warning: This looks cooler than it really is…
The graphics are almost the saving grace of this title. From a distance everything appears detailed. The cover will be blown apart right in front of you. However, the longer you play, the more you will notice its issues. The framerate often suffers in major fights, and objects, such as rocks, can sometimes be seen floating. Still, they are probably the highlight of this title. The voice acting and sound is solid, but there is nothing that truly sets it apart and you don’t really care about your team mates.
The multiplayer suffers from the same flaws as the main title. You have no reason to play this over other titles. The graphics are solid, but not exceptional. The gameplay is an uninspiring experience with little to no variety. Due to these two aspects, the games largest problem arises: a lack of players. Each time I attempted to find a match, I was forced to wait at least 20 minutes just to find a minimum of 4 players.
Blacksite is a game that is full of potential. The problem is that in glimpsing this potential, the player will realize just how boring and mediocre this game actually is. With so many other compelling, well balanced shooters on the market, this game should definitely be ignored. It really is f@%ked up.

Author: John Laster