It’s Monday, and god dammit. So let’s cheer ourselves up with some quality video games! I wanted to play some SNES games, but as it turns out, I’ve actually played almost all the SNES titles that I own… and the few that remain wouldn’t really work for a Goddamn Mondays. So instead, we’re going classic Xbox with the David Duchovny vehicle Area 51!
Some things, it’s better just to not ask why I own them.
Unlike the Gamecube, I’m in game in no time with no hassle. Let’s see how much of the story we can figure out from this intro. Old white guy in a lab coat rambling about progress. Pictures of UFOs and such. Okay, so, aliens are real, they showed up a while ago, we’ve been studying them at Area 51, government hiding them. Looks like the guy narrating is getting ready to release some of them, and he’s not supposed to. So, I’m gonna guess, mad scientist who wants to continue his research but they want him to stop so he releases a threat to make his research seem vital? I don’t really care about spoilers, so let’s check Wikipedia… well, damn! I was close. Ah well.
This game really wants me to know that it has David Duchovny and Marilyn Manson in it, among others. Full screen name cards. I know Duchovny is the main character, but I’m not gonna know what any of these other guys sound like, so I’ll never recognize them.
Okay, and we’re in Area 51! Boots on the ground. I’m being sent in as part of a HAZMAT team. And this first area they have me in is a hangar that looks just like the start of the Area 51 light gun game! That’s a cute shoutout.
They want me to do some target practice. Uhm. What? I’m not stupid, I know this is an FPS, and you have tutorialize, but you couldn’t think of any better way to contextualize it? You send me to clean up a contaminant, but want me to sit here and have a little target practice. On site. For that matter, how come everyone around here has an assault rifle but me and my team, who have pistols? You gotta earn your suspension of disbelief, guys.
This pistol feels surprisingly good, though! Vibrates gently when you fire, solid recoil animation, a satisfying crack with each shot. Controls are screwy, though– first off, it defaults to invert aim, which… no. Just no. Second, we’ve got CoD-style iron sights… but it’s tap left trigger, not hold. And crouch is hold left thumbstick in. Seriously? Click and hold? This is the most uncomfortable button input I’ve been asked to do in a long time. Can’t find any option to change the crouch or iron sights either. Weird how it’s so close to what we consider modern shooter consoles, but just not quite there.
Oooooo. They just gave me a wrist scanner– scan items, Metroid Prime-style, and it goes to a database I can check later as well as splashing some info on screen. Okay, game. You’ve got my attention.
Annnnd you’ve lost it. None of the cool computers or anything around here are scannable! That’s completely lame. I’ll keep messing with it periodically, but for now, looks like it’s a disappointment. Bummer.
Uh oh. There’s a hostile loose on the perimeter! Me and this squad mate will give chase! Is this guy Nolan North? He sounds like Nolan North. IMDB? Yep. Nolan North. This is pre-Uncharted, too, before that guy was absolutely everywhere.
Cornered the guy! Die, freak! …Uhm. Die? DIE. I am shooting you and you are not dying what is this. Oh, and he runs to a corner and explodes. But he was shooting me that whole time, and I was taking damage, so if that was scripted invincibility that I just lost 80% of my life bar to I’m gonna be pissed.
Alright, now we’re going downstairs to the real threat. And my squadmates are making bad jokes. I mean, bad jokes. Barely recognizable that they’re supposed to be funny. This is some really lousy writing! Like, I’m kind of impressed.
Duchovny narrating a cutscene showing what’s going on down below. Surprise– mutants! The zombies of the 90s. Only this came out in 2005, so you’re a little behind the curve. Anyway, Duchovny’s voicework sounds bored as shit. I know sometimes that gets thrown around, but he literally sounds… I don’t know, hung over or something. He sounds miserable. And oh lord these animations. These animations. Mutants apparently have the coordination of a two year old.
Alright, and a pack of mutants attack my squad! And man, they are dropping really fast. That guy upstairs was definitely invincible. Let’s see if there’s anything in here worth scanning… people? Oh. My. God. I scanned a soldier and it told me his name, his blood type, and what he had on him– an adult diaper, a wallet, his keys, and an assault rifle. This is fantastic.
Grabbed a couple assault rifles off some dead marines. Dual wielding them now. You know, like soldiers do. Double-fisting machine guns. Standard practice.
Round a corner… there’s an old man, banging on a glass wall, crying for help– and he smashes, through, and transforms into a monster! Oh my god, you guys, I think this game is trying to be scary. That’s adorable. I am dual wielding assault rifles here and it’s trying to do horror. That said, he did run my second assault rifle out of ammo. And I can’t reload it?
Confirmed, no button reloads the offhand gun. And I can’t drop it. In fact, the only way to get rid of it is to run dry on both guns, and then he’ll throw away the other one. Given that having two guns takes away my iron sights for the duration, that makes it actually more of a downgrade because the second gun runs out of ammo first, every time, for some reason. And there’s no way not to pick it up, actually! If you walk across a second gun, your character automatically dual wields, without any button presses on your part. So a powerup becomes an obstacle. If this were Ghost Recon I’d think that was a commentary on the exaggerated portrayal of the military, but here? I suspect it’s just shitty design.
Alright, now I’m in a room with no light. I’ve got a flashlight, but what’s cooler is that the enemy’s eyes glow in the dark! So I can just shoot at the eyes. This is actually kind of fun! But I keep bumping into desks and shit in the dark. Finnnne, I’ll use my flashlight.
Actually, I never took the time to scan my squadmates. Let’s see what the game has to– what. They are chiding me. My squad mates are chiding me for scanning them. Why would you even put data for them in the game if you don’t want me to– whatever. There’s something over here that the game is indicating unsubtly that it wants me to scan, so let’s go do that.
“Databank Item Acquired: Super Contagious Body.” You are shitting me. A functioning adult wrote the words “Super Contagious” with a straight face. Man, this game is killin’ it.
Oh, I wouldn’t want you to think I’ve been holding out on you, by the way. If this narrative seems to jump around a little to you, move a little fast, just fill the space between every paragraph with “walk through hallways and shoot mutants.” I have seen one environment, one enemy type, and two guns. It has been uneventful to the extreme.
Alright, and I need to turn on a generator so I can progress. Let’s look for a switch, which appears to be just past this narrow space between two generators. Problem is, electricity is arcing back and forth across it, like three different streams. Different heights, different speeds.
An electricity jumping puzzle.
…ALRIGHT! So that has been Area 51! Fuck this game, I am going to go drink myself into a stupor. Given that I drink tea, not booze, that may take a while, but dammit, I’m gonna try. Bye!