May 10, 2007 - A few months ago, IGN had the good fortune to take Midway's BlackSite: Area 51 out for a test run. The short (but oh so sweet demo) was just a taste of the alien-stomping action that awaits gamers when BlackSite ships this fall. Now gamers can experience the same level in an updated demo set to release to the public on Xbox Live Marketplace this Friday.
The brief demo only lasts about five minutes, but it's one hell of a five minute ride. Taking place in one of the earliest levels, your strike team arrives at the back door of a gas station in the town of Rachel. Trouble has been brewing and your job is to open a few doors and shoot whatever doesn't look human. The first half-minute of the demo is quiet and a little tense. Then all hell breaks loose.
After opening a couple of doors to find nothing eventful, you come upon a Reborn Scout ripping apart a minivan near a gas pump. From this point forward, it's a whole lot of shooting and explosions. Humanoid Reborns join the Scout and the battle becomes heated quickly.
You can direct your squad with the Right Bumper. Aim your reticule at any location, press the bumper and you set a way point. It's contextual, so if you highlight a door, the squad will infiltrate; target an enemy and your squad will focus their attacks in that direction. This isn't Brothers in Arms or Rainbow Six. It's an arcade FPS and as such the command controls are kept as streamlined as possible. The only thing you need to worry about is your squad's morale. As long as it appears your winning, morale for your two squadmates increases. The higher their morale, the better they perform on the field. If one man goes down, the rest of the squad gets the jitters. Morale resets after every battle, so it never has too daunting of an effect on gameplay.
As you'll discover quickly, most objects in the environment are destructible. And your first shootout is in a gas station. Expect lots of kabooms as gas pumps erupt both from your bullets and those of the enemy. And be especially careful, because the first alien you run into, a Reborn scout, is deadliest when about to meet its maker. This nasty critter falls down after being hit enough times and in its death throw, the tentacled head detaches, scampers forwards, and explodes.
Aside from a few of these unpleasant creatures, there are some humanoid Reborn grunts who don't take kindly to grenades and the encephalopod-like Drudges skittering in an area beyond the gas station. The Drudges patrol in small packs, leaping off walls and vehicles, slashing with claws and spitting venomous liquid. None of the enemies in the demo are terribly difficult to take down, particular with your assault rifle. You can try out the pistol as well by pressing Y. It's highly effective and the firing animation looks great.
While killing aliens is fun, the real delight is shooting up the environment and seeing what is and isn't destructible. Most things take notice of your bullets. BlackSite uses elements of the Stranglehold engine, allowing you to lay waste to the environment. You can shoot out signs, blow up the aforementioned gas tanks, and destroy barriers that the Reborn are using as cover.
As you'll discover, the demo is very brief. This is just a tantalizing taste of BlackSite: Area 51. Be sure to check to check out IGN's full video walktrhough for more details on the demo.
Should you be hyped? Decide for yourself on Friday.