Next Gen Squad Combat
Product: Blacksite: Area 51
Company: Midway
Date: 07/15/2007
Avaliable On:

Blacksite: Area 51 is one of Midway's newest IPs as they venture into the genre of squad-based, alien-filled combat. In Blacksite, you will control Captain Pierce and his special unit squad assigned to protect the secret government facility of Area 51. But when decades old experimental human/alien hybrid soldiers whom everyone thought were contained revolt and call down a horde of aliens, Pierce and his team must stop the spread of both the alien and mutated threat.

The developers had several goals going into this game. One of them was to make the squad-commands and movements as seamless and out-of-the-way as possible. No D-pad tapping to get your squad to fit into particular arrangements here. Instead, there is one button and a lot of context sensitivity. If you want your squad mates to move to a particular spot, aim at that spot and tap the button. If you want them to interact with an object, same thing. If you want them to attack an enemy... guess what, its the same thing, just point and command. The squad-A.I. seemed to be really good and tends to follow your lead really well. They advance when you advance, hold back when you do and seem to adjust themselves to your personal pace really easily.

On top of the squad-command system, the team at Midway Austin also created what they call Squad Morale. Here your team looks at how well you are playing and respond to it in very interesting ways. For instance, if you aren't doing very well, your squad will hide behind barriers more and do more blind firing, while a better run through will make your teammates more aggressive. That plus the change in stature and facial expressions depending on their morale really helps to add a level of believability to the game.

Blacksite: Area 51 is scheduled for release this September and demos are due to come out on Xbox Live and The PlayStation Network this August.

J.R. Nip aka Chris Meyer

GameVortex PSIllustrated