This past weekend we had a chance to sit down with Midway’s recently released teaser demo of Blacksite: Area 51 for the Xbox 360. While short in length the demo does pack quite a punch that conveys a fast-paced, visceral action-driven shooter that should appease fans when it drops this fall.
The demo starts you off on a dark and rainy night at a local gas station in the town of Rachel. The first thing you will notice is the use of the Unreal 3 Engine to power the games environments. Watching the rain bead off of signs and illuminate the ground by casting reflections from the overhead lights is absolutely gorgeous. The demo also allows you to take a quick tour of commanding your squad via the right bumper on the 360 pad. This is a simple context-sensitive action very similar to Rainbow Six Vegas.
After opening a few doors and getting adjusted to the control scheme you finally get your first taste of the action. From inside the gas station you witness a giant alien ripping through a parked minivan outside trying to get to the human snack inside. This is where the action heats up and you get your first taste of actual combat.
The controls are pretty standard for anyone who has played any other FPS on a console. What is different about Blacksite that you will realize very early on is that almost every single object in the environment is destructible. Gas pumps will explode from crossfire and neon signs will explode with gorgeous particle effects as you unload clips into them.
The enemies are also very well designed, at least the few we witnessed in the demo. The first one you will encounter is a reborn scout that stands much taller than an average human and is even deadlier once you take it out. Simply shooting down this massive extra-terrestrial is not the end; as soon as you take him down his head detaches and comes scurrying for it’s murdered with explosive consequences.
The other enemies we encountered range from your typical grunts with guns to the slimy Drudges that scour all over the walls and spit venomous liquid at you. Although I won’t ruin anything for you the real star of this demo is at the very end right before you are cut off from play time. Needless to say I am stoked about getting the final version to finally get to see how this battle pans out.
While this is certainly a small taste there are few hindrances worth noting. For starters the frame rate during intense action sequences was less than exceptional. During some instances of our play-through we witnessed almost stop-motion animation, which is really a shame. Granted this is an extremely early version and we expect these to be fixed by the time the game hits retail. The other thing to note is that the squad commands are very limited in the demo, so we are still unsure how your AI partners will react in more intense sequences later in the game.
We have still yet to sample the multi-player, which will be one of the deciding factors when this game ships this year, but for now I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with this small taste of Midway’s latest game. Be sure to check back when the game releases for a full review, but for now make sure to hop online and download this incredibly visceral demo that is sure to peak your interest for the final game.