Midway's first stab at turning Area 51 from a blazing arcade lightgun blaster into a first-person shooter was a formidable one when it gunned its way on to PS2 back in May of 2005. With a twisty, turny storyline, Marilyn Manson as Edgar the alien, Powers Boothe as a kick-ass Major and David Duchonvy in a career-killing performance as the game's hero with a gun, Ethan Cole; aside from the latter, Area 51 was actually pretty damn good and a solid hit for Midway.
Naturally, a sequel, BlackSite, was green-lit. Unfortunately for Midway, this follow-up has been fatally tarnished, no thanks to one of the game's designers, Harvey Smith who thought it might be a smooth career move to stand in front of an audience weeks after the game's Xbox release and a few before the US PS3 shelf date, publicly slam his game and welcome the impending lukewarm reviews it was to go on and receive from US games mags and sites.
You won't find him in the Midway office anymore. Sadly, and despite the incredibly bad move on Smith's behalf, he was right in a lot of ways. BlackSite does actually feel like a massively rushed experience encompassing mediocre gameplay, soulless level design (the opening missions are achingly bland) and an eye-bashingly bad framerate that caused more than a few headaches around the office.
It's a bloody shame because despite this, BlackSite does have a few solid moments including some stellar extra terrestrial creatures, a few awesome action-flick setpieces and some nice looking graphics during certain missions.
It's just a shame then that terrible squad AI, awful writing and a completely irrelevant squad-based morale system shatters all of this in a heartbeat. What could have been a fairly enjoyable romp of a shooter quickly unravels all-too quickly into a mess of sci-fi clichés, poor plotting and lacklustre action.
There's an equally tepid approach to the multiplayer side of the game - plus some horrible driving missions - and we can't help but wonder what in Christ's good name went wrong with this one?
A damn shame really. This isn't what we had hoped for when we first signed on. It's just not a patch on the original PS2 remake. Get that instead for around £10 and give this one a miss.