Midway went through a bleak patch a few years ago after the likes of Haven, Freaky Flyers, Dr. Muto and the 3D re-make of Defender failed to perform at retail. A re-think was required and some bright spark decided that they’d be better off making some decent games that people actually want to play. The result was a trio of more mature efforts – Psi-Ops, The Suffering and Area 51. It’s safe to assume that The Suffering was the most popular as a sequel quickly appeared on PlayStation 2 and Xbox. And gore always sells.

Blacksite screenWisely, they’ve decided to wait until PlayStation 3 and 360 have built up steam before releasing a sequel to Area 51. Something odd has happened though – in the teaser released on Xbox Live they’ve removed the Area 51 sub-heading, hence why we’re referring to it as Blacksite.

And it certainly is a teaser – on our first run through it took ten minutes to finish, then only around five on our second play. The demo is set in a rundown American suburb at night and lets you get used to the controls before a quick spot of alien shooting. The first section gives you a chance to use the ‘one button command’ system – ordering your team-mates around by aiming a green cursor and tapping the shoulder button. It works well enough for things like placing detonators on locked doors but it’s hard to say how well it’ll work in combat.

The next section sees the troops having a shoot out on a petrol station forecourt and it’s here that you first witness the destructible environments – hide behind a wall or pillar and it’ll slowly be ebbed away by enemy fire. The aliens in this battle are large and gangly, but go down quite easily due to the overly generous auto aiming. The mission then moves over to a large motel building where a screen-filling alien appears. It emits some kind of EMP blast that sends parked cars flying – easily the most impressive part of the demo – and the screen goes black. That’s your lot, in other words.

The visuals are crisp and detailed but never jaw dropping. There are a few frame rate issues too, but remember this is just a work in progress. The online co-op mode should prove entertaining – even rubbish FPS games are worth a blast for a few hours with a friend – and we also feel quite confident in saying that it’s shaping up to be the best game Midway have published for a while… if only because they’ve been putting out tat like The Ant Bully and Happy Feet for the last year.

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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