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1 Reviews

Blacksite

The most 'alright' game Steve Hogarty's ever played

At the time of writing, there's been no PC demo of BlackSite. However, if there'd been a demo of BlackSite, like there was for the 360 version, you'll have already played the game's best part.

Since I don't want to encourage you to play this game, I'll just have to tell you what happens: as you enter the town of Rachel, Nevada, a house-sized alien spore tower plummets from the sky and smashes into a row of shops - sending cars and debris arcing in slow motion, twisting gently on the crest of a beautifully rendered shockwave before ploughing into either you or the tarmac.

Zoom

Immediately after this, you're shooting glowing weak points on the alien spore tower's arse to make it die, while it spews out a depressingly endless stream of aliens.

This is BlackSite's problem, it borrows from brilliantly scripted shooters like Half-Life 2, apes the look and feel of Call of Duty 4 and Gears of War, but is at its core a mundane waltz through stupid enemies, a handful of varied locations that tend to linger awkwardly, and some hideous clichés too, like the weak points. And some on-rails bits.

It's such a so-so experience that I can barely muster the effort to move my arms, let alone type. Also, I think it's against the rules to use terms like 'alright', 'not bad' and 'decent enough' to describe a game, which is making this review really hard to write.

You see, there's nothing disastrously wrong with BlackSite, I just think it'll be difficult for anybody to be particularly enthusiastic about it - especially when you start comparing it to the likes of Crysis, UT3, Episode 2 and COD 4. And Gears of War too. BlackSite is just distinctly average.

Your character refuses to do things like open doors and flick switches, like the Victoria Beckham of the battlefield, meaning all of these trivial matters must be handled by ordering your companions about. This is, effectively, the one-button squad control system.

You can also use it to order your squad to focus fire on an enemy, or move to a location - neither of which you'll have to do on anything but the hardest difficulty setting, leaving the button redundant.

Something else you won't be doing is paying attention to the squad morale system, which monitors how well you're performing and projects this into the brains of your squad. If their squad morale is high, they'll be able to bounce bullets off their faces and straight into the hearts of the enemy.

If it's low, they'll cower behind corners sobbing into a puddle of their own urine. At least that's how it's supposed to work - in reality your team consists of a pair of bipolar schizophrenics, whose morale can sway madly from low to high in a matter of seconds. Cars make them happy, big billboards with Midway on them make them happy, aliens make them sad, leaving a man behind to die in Iraq has no effect.

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Again, on the hardest difficulty setting this is claimed (by the game loading screen) to matter more - but practically speaking it just doesn't seem to work, or even make sense, no matter how you play.

And surely entire features shouldn't become worthless simply because you're not playing on the 'correct' difficulty setting. Squad morale is an interesting idea, but it's far too inconsequential to warrant a constant notice in the HUD's corner.

Yet there are moments that amaze and delight, not enough of them to make me recommend this while considerably better shooters sit right next to it on the shelf, but they're moments just the same.

Bridge-straddling alien behemoths must be trounced, laser-beam-faced gigantosaurs must be outwitted (twice because they're reused), but it all takes place in and around the rest of the game, which is, as I've said four times now, a bit dull.

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