I have been wasting what time I can burning through a number of second-rate games and this is in fact a public service to you; the gentle reader. I am more than willing to be the canary in the video game mineshaft when it comes to the first person shooter format. It's strange but I much rather play a mediocre shooter than a top notch racing game or dating sim. If I were to guess what it is that brings me back time after time I might say... oh, I don't know... THE SHOOTING.
These are titles that I was looking forward to optaining upon release but when they got reviews in the 6’s and 7’s my priorities naturally changed. Such titles can be usually picked up for half-price within a couple months of release thanks to the numerous copies to be found in the used aisle of your local game store. I’m going to review a few of them this week in hopes of getting back into blog-making form, to tighen up my blog-gina, as it were.
BlackSite: Area 51 was developed and published by various wings of Midway as a multi-platform release that was mostly skewered by the gaming enthusiast media. The game’s developer even went so far as to publicly denounce it by outlining the difficulties faced in the development cycle before leaving the company. Juicy! I was willing to slog through this potentially bad game because I absolutely fell in love with the demo and after finishing it my initial impressions stand. I’m happy to keep this one in the collection.
BlackSite is an alien/robot/zombie shooter (seriously, all three) that I must admit fails to deliver in several aspects. The story and level design are lacklustre in addition to being short in duration. As well the developers were unable to add a co-op element and the multiplayer is forgettable. So why am I not slamming it? Here’s why; it’s a shooter and the shooting is bloody excellent! If you get this one thing right with this kind of game then in my books most other factors will be forgiven. In BlackSite the weapon of choice is this meaty, chugga-chugga M4 carbine and it felt like a much-needed extension of my dick! This was one of the most satisfying weapons I have used in a game and as the ladies will not hesitate to tell you, I aim to satisfy! This one element made the game at least a fun-filled, visceral experience.
This game was something of a throwback; like an old Doom or Quake game. It’s hard to explain but when playing you don’t feel like a soldier with a rifle – as you would in Call of Duty 4 – but more like a mobile weapons platform. It was actually a nice break from some of the slower moving, more realistic titles I’ve been playing lately. You just move through the funhouse at high speed and blast away any zany creatures that happen to pop up. No strategy, no taking cover; just pure, unadulterated run and gun.
Throughout the game you travel with a couple soldiers who you can direct with the most rudimentary of squad commands. Though other games have fleshed this out far better in Blacksite it is nonetheless an effective mechanic. With a click of the button you can ‘paint’ a target and your team-mates will go after it with gusto. I quickly found that as battle was joined it was important to give your squad targets in order to maximise your power. This and an interesting Squad Morale system kept the fights interesting. As well, I have to give BlackSite props for using the Unreal Technology to create some of the most realistic character models I’ve seen to date. Even Bioshock with its herky-jerky character animations could take a tip or two from what Midway did with the same middleware.
BlackSite has its more than a few shortcoming; one of them being it happens to be very critical of the United States and the Iraq War it started. The game’s not-so subtle message was that volunteer soldiers are being betrayed by their government with such measures as extended tours, stop-loss policy, and institutions such as Walter Reed Hospital. I don’t think these concepts are going to sell games this year and perhaps this is because Americans don’t want to hear about that stuff right now. The reviews I read were fairly harsh and dismissive to the topic; they even questioned its place in a game. I feel it’s a topic worth discussing and any venue is better than nothing. Such talk of a nation’s culpability does not however sit well with the citizenry even in the best of times.
I won’t go so far as to say that this game was reviewed unfairly and in truth I would be very surprised to see a sequel of any kind. Overall I felt the good outweighed the bad and I found the highly charged political aspects interesting. Now I've played through on the 360 version and also did a few chapters on the PC and will vouch for them. However I hear the port to the PS3 was not as good. Let the budget bargain bin buyer beware!
The news these past couple weeks has not been doing it for me. It's been either too dumb (Clinton vs. Obama) or too depressing, but I will leave you with this.
In-Meatro is coming!!!
My comments are thus... VAT GROWN MEAT!