The original Area 51 was an arcade hit in the '90s in which two players fired optical guns at prerendered screens, advancing to a showdown with the alien mothership. Midway's first-person adaptation extends the premise of the original with an involved story, impressive graphics, and voices from Hollywood players such as David Duchovny. Like many FPS demos, this single-player version is too short and too easy, but it hints at the full game's strong potential.
You can skip the lengthy introduction, but it's entertaining. Quality acting from Duchovny and Powers Boothe adds considerably to the atmosphere. The included mission has four checkpoints that automatically save your progress. In the last stage, you'll get one clue about the conspiracies unraveling at Area 51, but the end comes far too soon. Starting in the middle of the story makes it hard to pick up the plot. Enemies are cloaked and disintegrate soon after death, so it's difficult to see exactly what you're fighting. As easy as the demo is, the enemy works together and shows some promising AI. Graphics are excellent, though camera angles sometimes obscure incoming fire. If you have the bandwidth and an itchy mouse finger, Area 51 is worth a shot.
Area 51 is the only action-packed first-person shooter set in the U.S. government's most secret and secure military facility. The U.S. Army has received a distress signal from Area 51, where a viral outbreak has just shut down the research facility, and the automated quarantine procedures have locked all scientific and military personnel inside.
Players will delve into five massive levels within the confines of Area 51, discover a mutagenic side effect of the virus that controls the minds of those infected, and an ancient alien colony buried beneath the facility. With a multitude of human and alien weapons, players must explore chilling conspiracies such as the extraterrestrial crash at Roswell and the faked lunar landing to solve the enigmas of Area 51 before the viral mutagen is released and irrevocably mutates all life on Earth.
This single-player demo for the alien shooter includes an introductory cinematic and playable portion of the full game.