Area 51 (2005)

Video Game  -  Action | Horror | Mystery  -  1 March 2005 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 326 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

Ethan Cole, Anthony Ramirez, Mitch 'Crispy' Chrisman, and Jack McCan are part of HazTeam Bravo. They are brought to Area 51 to investigate underground and search for HazTeam Delta... See full synopsis »

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Title: Area 51 (Video Game 2005)

Area 51 (Video Game 2005) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ethan Cole (voice)
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Major Bridges (voice)
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Edgar (voice)
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Dr. Cray (voice)
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Mr. White (voice)
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Ramirez (voice) (as Marc Rodriguez)
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Crispy (voice)
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McCan (voice)
Beng Spies ...
Lt. Chew (voice)
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Marco (voice)
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Victor5 (voice)
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Additional Voices (voice) (as Steven Jay Blum)
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Additional Voices (voice) (as Dan Hagen)
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Additional Voices (voice)
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Additional Voices (voice) (as Lori Allen)
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Storyline

Ethan Cole, Anthony Ramirez, Mitch 'Crispy' Chrisman, and Jack McCan are part of HazTeam Bravo. They are brought to Area 51 to investigate underground and search for HazTeam Delta... See full synopsis »

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Release Date:

1 March 2005 (USA)  »

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Trivia

This game is based on a 1996 light gun game by the same name. In fact, the original "Area 51" light gun arcade game can be found in one of the lounge areas in one of the early levels of the game. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. Cray: The tides of history have left me little choice. And once again, science will require the sacrifice of the insignificant.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Entertaining shooting and a dark sense of humour make for quality stuff
28 April 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Ah, aliens: the prototypical video game bad guys. Along with Nazis, zombies and goblins, more extra-terrestrials have appeared as enemies in games than sewer levels and annoying sidekicks, and games like today's subject use this cliché to their advantage to serve up some enjoyably cheesy FPS blasting. Pull on your HEV suit and dive in with me. And don't touch anything sticky and glowing.

The famous base with untold mysteries is portrayed as what every conspiracy nutter claims it to be in real life: chock-full of intergalactic guinea pigs, reverse-engineered technology and enough mad scientists to host a convention of the gits with. The least stable of the lab jockeys decides to unleash the various captive nasties one day and as a result the entire complex is overrun, as folk either get eviscerated or turned into mutants by a super-contagion. Intrigued by all the screaming, some HAZMAT blokes are sent in and soon wish they hadn't been. You're the sod who has to go in and get 'em out. This wonderfully two-dimensional plot setup is what I'd want and expect from a common or garden shooter, and Area 51 gets it just right. A convoluted plot can be more of a detriment than a positive addition in games like these, and keeping the focus on exaggerated action is the best option. After all, TimeSplitters has basically no story, and look how that turned out. My only problem with the plot for Area 51 is that it's hard to take seriously, since historical documents prove that the crew from Futurama were the cause of Roswell's famous enigmas, so this junk about human-alien pacts and the like seems far-fetched. Bender was the UFO, obviously. Basic stuff.

The weapons themselves are mostly disappointing, consisting of your bog-standard shotgun, rifle and pistol, but though predictable they're also sufficiently boomy. Much like Republic Commando, just because the equipment selection is forgettable doesn't mean it's not entertaining. Plus you do eventually get an alien gun that fires bouncy, sticky explosives, and another that just destroys a whole room, so at least it's not completely boring. It's definitely no Ratchet and Clank, though. One saving grace is that the rifle and shotgun can be dual-wielded, and the extra firepower is much appreciated in small corridors. In short, there are a good few brown trouser moments.

I mentioned the mindless "leapers" before, but you also get mutants with guns, headcrab impersonators, the occasional hulking titan, some shadowy military types and eventually a few Greys. Of these opponents, the only truly memorable ones in my mind were the Greys, which is ironic considering they're the only creature designed to mimic a popular established image. For whatever reason, they stuck with me and little else did. Perhaps the main Grey's voice actor had something to do with it, having given such a chilling performance. Who might it be, you ask? Only that lord of all weirdness, Marilyn Manson. I smeg you not. Both the alien and his actor are a bit wrong in the head, so you can't fault the casting choice. The extra features show Marilyn identifying with his character (known as Edgar), and saying that they "share a general contempt for mankind".

Perhaps most easily remembered about Area 51 is its lovely sense of humour. It's nothing of Armed and Dangerous levels, but worthy of the odd snigger. Most of the comedy comes from documents that can be scanned to reveal either backstory or description of some ludicrous government project. Bigfoot, cropcircles, cow mutilation and more are explained. It seems that every urban legend from the 40s onwards was related to the secret base, and the most amusing thing I discovered revealed the true nature to a certain famous mission in 1969. Just watch and try not to chuckle. Destroy All Humans! is more funny overall, since the B-movie styling and alien perspective are hard to beat, not to mention the fact that Invader Zim plays a starring role. Even so, Area 51 has regular bursts of comedy and sometimes a flash of brilliance.

It's immeasurably awesome that the troubled grunt you play as should be voiced by Mulder from The X-Files. He sounds exactly the same, with that monotone mumbling which just embodies him as an actor. He works not only in terms of performance, but also because, you know, Area 51? X-Files? It's just too perfect, and quite the privilege to have The Man himself lending his voice to you. Just keep the tank topped up and be gentle with her.

A great inclusion is the level select, which goes a step further by letting you continue from any checkpoint. Many, many games before and since should have incorporated the same idea but didn't. It allows for replayability, as you can avoid the less good bits and focus on reliving the best sections, mainly the middle third.

The music is some very stylish synthesised goodness that's most similar to the Return to Planet X theme from TimeSplitters 2. It's appropriate in terms of frantic mood and alien-ness, and you've gotta love it.

Cover-ups, conspiracies, traitors, Illuminati, genetic manipulation...it's all here and all brilliant silliness. Combine that with passable shooting and a handful of cunning sections and you've got a well-made game that's more than competent and the gaming equivalent of popcorn cinema: utterly derivative, but one Hell of an expedition. A respectful nod towards such gaming traditions as invaders from space and escaping before the facility blows up in classic Metroid fashion lends character to proceedings, and elevates the package above being "just another FPS". It's not outstanding, but it's nearly there, and ideal throwaway entertainment.


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