Three guesses as to where Area-51
takes place. If you guessed Area-51, good job -- if not, well...
Area-51 takes you through the infamous military installation where all of the really good alien gadgets like phasers, teleporters and the plans to the Death Star are stored. You are Ethan Cole, a member of a HAZMAT team sent in to take care of a viral outbreak in the facility. Since an easy assessment of the situation wouldn't make for a good game, things go wrong. Long story short, Area-51 is apparently a lot like Las Vegas; so what happens in Area-51 stays in Area-51. As a result, Ethan soon finds himself fighting his way through the facility as he takes on members of the military, mutants and aliens. Had the game kept the simple escape premise it would be fine, however the story soon begins to add in a few other elements like psychics, the Illuminati and nearly every conspiracy theory you can think of. While a good story with lots of twists is always a good thing, its not something that is really needed to make a good FPS, so these latter elements begin to bog down the action and add little to the game.
At its heart, Area-51 is a standard, old school FPS. The overall feel of the game is similar to the original Half-Life, if a little more watered down. The overall feel and gameplay is fun, but the game as a whole does very little to break out or add something to the genre. You'll spend a good part of your time running through a labyrinth of corridors, collecting guns and generally shooting anything and everything you come across. In an attempt to break up the shooting action, you'll find yourself performing other actions as well, such as scanning objects scattered throughout the game. As you find new objects, you'll earn extras like backstory elements.
When you're done with the single-player story mode, you can take part in Area-51's multiplayer modes. Supporting up to 16 people, the multiplayer modes cover all of the FPS standards like capture the flag and deathmatch. Area-51 also includes a "new" gameplay mode called Infected, which is like a deathmatch only you take the role of either a soldier or mutant. Multiplayer doesn't offer anything new or exciting, and certainly won't hold you like multiplayer modes in other games do, but it still makes for a fun diversion from the single-player mode.