Area 51 (2005 video game)

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Area 51
Area 51.jpg
Developer(s)Midway Austin
Publisher(s)Midway Games
  • JP: Success Entertainment
Composer(s)Chris Vrenna
SeriesArea 51
Platform(s)PlayStation 2
Microsoft Windows
ReleasePlayStation 2 & Xbox
  • NA: April 25, 2005
  • AU: May 26, 2005
  • EU: May 27, 2005
  • JP: November 9, 2006 (PS2)
  • NA: June 8, 2005
  • EU: July 1, 2005
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Area 51 is a science fiction first-person shooter video game that was released in 2005. It was developed by Midway Studios Austin and published by Midway for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows, silently canceled for Nintendo GameCube. It is a loose remake of the 1995 light gun video game of the same name,[1] and was followed in 2007 by the loosely related BlackSite: Area 51. The player controls Ethan Cole, a HAZMAT operative sent to the Area 51 base to assist in the cleanup of a mutagenic virus.

Area 51 at first starts out with intense combat where the player has several AI teammates with him (ranging from two to seven most of the time) versus hordes of mutants. Midway through, the player will have to go through shootouts with more intelligent enemies in the form of alien soldiers. Notable among the voice actors are David Duchovny as Ethan Cole, Marilyn Manson as Edgar the ancient and powerful Grey, Powers Boothe as Major Bridges, Nolan North as McCan, and Ian Abercrombie as Dr. Cray.


Area 51 is a first person shooter, played from the perspective of the protagonist, Ethan Cole. The game features operable machinery, including artillery turrets, besides the player's inventory of weapons. The player begins with a team of three other HAZMAT soldiers, who cannot be killed by the game world, unless it is scripted into the story.


Throughout the game, the player uses a variety of weapons, both Human and Alien in origin, to defeat their adversaries. Most weapons can only be wielded one handed, however the player can dual wield some weapons, such as the Shotgun and the Sub-Machine Gun. Each weapon can also be used as a melee weapon for close quarter combat, and for its original intended purpose. Each weapon has two modes of firing, the first being the primary method, while the second is of a much higher power level, at the cost of ammunition and accuracy to the player. The player can also use explosive grenades, one of human origin, and the other of alien design.

Midway through the game, Ethan Cole becomes infected with the mutagen, and the option to turn into a mutant temporarily is obtained. Mutating offers a variety of benefits, such as increased strength, stamina, as well as the initial ability to fire health-replenishing parasites as well as the later ability to contaminate enemies, both at the cost of mutation time reduction. While in a mutant form, players can easily spot enemies, which would otherwise be cloaked to the regular human eye, albeit with a slight ocular defect.

Players can replenish health and mutagen either through the use of medical syringes found throughout the game or by using parasites, and mutagen by melee combat or "using" infected corpses, or by finding mutagen syringes.

A notable aspect of gameplay is the ability to scan and analyze various objects in the game environment. This is possible by using the scanner present on the player's suit, worn throughout the game. While using a scanner, the player has no access to weapons, and must switch to an available weapon in order to fight (though they could still melee). Scanning provides detailed information on a player's surroundings, as well as combated enemies.

The scanner, when equipped, adds a translucent bar to the player's HUD, which changes in color and height from light blue, to deep red. This bar indicates how near or far a player is, to one of many scannable clues, such as file folders or personal digital assistants. The scanner can collect information from the items without it being touched. The HUD shows red when the player is very close, and blue when very far. Items which are scanned are viewable in-game, providing insight into the workings of Area 51, as well as proving necessary to unlocking secret videos made by Dr. Cray or Mr. White.


In July 1947, an alien spacecraft crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in the United States. The craft was recovered by the U.S. Air Force and taken to Area 51 in Nevada, where the lone survivor of the crash, a powerful Grey named Edgar (Marilyn Manson), was held captive by the U.S. military. Eventually, the Greys opened a dialogue with the Illuminati led by the ominous Mr. White (Phil Proctor), and struck a deal with them. The Illuminati would give the Greys a research base 3 miles below the surface of Area 51, the use of the base as a landing site, and give them human test subjects where they, along with human scientists, would research a mutagenic virus to use in a war on their homeworld. In return the Greys would give the Illuminati exclusive access to Grey technology. The Illuminati used some of this technology to spy on the population.

The Greys and the human scientists eventually developed a powerful alien being - known as the "Theta", which spread the virus. Unbeknownst to many of the scientists working on the project, the Greys and the Illuminati were also planning to use the virus against the Earth population and dominate the planet. When Dr. Winston Cray (Ian Abercrombie) found out about the plan, he let loose the "Theta" and the mutagenic virus throughout Area 51, in an effort to slow them down. This prompted the United States military to send in a Quick Reaction Force led by Major Bridges (Powers Boothe) to quarantine and contain the virus. HAZMAT Team Delta, the first team initially sent into Area 51 are ambushed by the "Theta" creature, sustaining casualties, before withdrawing deeper into the base. HAZMAT Team Bravo, composed of team leader Ramirez, McCan, Crispy, and mission specialist Ethan Cole (David Duchovny) is sent to find Delta.

After initially encountering the mutants, McCan is killed when a mutant decapitates him. Deeper into the base, Crispy and Ramirez are both ambushed by the Theta and killed, leaving Cole on his own. Cole manages to locate the rest of Delta, however they are attacked again by the Theta, and all but Cole and Lieutenant Chew are killed. Making their way topside, the Illuminati disables the cargo elevator, killing Chew and leaving Cole bitten by one mutant, partially mutating him. Able to switch between human and mutant form, Cole is guided deeper into the base by Edgar reanimating corpses to deliver information telepathically. Cole is guided to Dr. Cray's bio labs, where Cray claims there is time to decontaminate Cole, and rid him of the virus. Before he can be cured, the Illuminati attack, killing Cray and stopping the process.

Cole proceeds deeper underground into a cave system, where he eventually gets reacquainted with the Theta. He manages to kill the creature, avenging both his team and HazTeam Delta. He meets Edgar miles beneath the surface who reveals the scientists used his DNA to create the virus, and the nature of the experiments at the base, which killed dozens of his species to harvest it. He then tells Cole the history of the Greys and Area 51. Edgar gives Cole the cure to the mutagenic virus, and instructs him to destroy the Grey's ship, that is leaving with dozens of Theta duplicates. Cole locates the vessel and destroys it by overloading its reactor, and uses a teleporter to escape into the Nevada desert. He lands by the "White Mailbox" area and watches Area 51 being destroyed by the exploding ship in a tornado like explosion. Cole watches as a truck drives past, with a green, alien-like container on board with unknown contents inside and walks away from the site. He reflects upon his original purpose at Area 51 and recognizes that while he and Hazmat Team Bravo had failed, their sacrifices may have saved mankind.


Review scores
Game InformerN/A8.5/10[5]8.5/10[5]
Game RevolutionN/AC+[7]C+[7]
GameProN/A4.5/5 stars[6]N/A
GameSpy3/5 stars[10]N/A3/5 stars[11]
OPM (US)N/A4/5 stars[19]N/A
OXM (US)N/AN/A6.8/10[20]
PC Gamer (US)73%[21]N/AN/A
The Sydney Morning HeraldN/A2.5/5 stars[23]3/5 stars[24]
Aggregate score

The PlayStation 2 version received "generally favorable reviews", while the PC and Xbox versions received "average reviews", according to video game review aggregator Metacritic.[25][26][27]


In 2004, ahead of the game's release, Paramount Pictures announced that they had reached an agreement concerning the film rights for the game.[28] In March 2007, comic book author Grant Morrison was hired to adapt the game as a screenplay.[29] This project is unrelated to the movie Area 51 by Oren Peli.[30]


  1. ^ Drury, Paul (December 2016). "More from Area 51". Retro Gamer. No. 163. Future Publishing. p. 52.
  2. ^ a b c Edge staff (July 2005). "Area 51". Edge (151): 92.
  3. ^ a b EGM staff (June 2005). "Area 51 (PS2, Xbox)". Electronic Gaming Monthly (192): 96.
  4. ^ Kristan Reed (June 20, 2005). "Area 51 (PS2)". Eurogamer. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Andrew Reiner (May 2005). "Area 51 (PS2, Xbox)". Game Informer (145): 108. Archived from the original on January 4, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  6. ^ Fart of War (April 25, 2005). "Area 51 Review for PS2 on". GamePro. Archived from the original on April 26, 2005. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  7. ^ a b JP Hurh (June 7, 2005). "Area 51 Review (PS2, Xbox)". Game Revolution. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Alex Navarro (June 10, 2005). "Area 51 Review (PC)". GameSpot. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Alex Navarro (April 25, 2005). "Area 51 Review (PS2, Xbox)". GameSpot. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  10. ^ Jamie Madigan (June 28, 2005). "GameSpy: Area 51 (PC)". GameSpy. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Will Tuttle (April 26, 2005). "GameSpy: Area 51 (Xbox)". GameSpy. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Area 51". GameTrailers. May 5, 2005. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  13. ^ Kevin "BIFF" Giacobbi (June 26, 2005). "Area 51 - PC - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on December 25, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  14. ^ Nick Valentino (May 10, 2005). "Area 51 - PS2 - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on December 30, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  15. ^ Eduardo Zacarias (May 10, 2005). "Area 51 - XB - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  16. ^ Ivan Sulic (June 9, 2005). "Area 51 (PC)". IGN. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  17. ^ Ivan Sulic (April 21, 2005). "Area 51 (PS2)". IGN. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  18. ^ Ivan Sulic (April 21, 2005). "Area 51 (Xbox)". IGN. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  19. ^ "Area 51". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine: 86. March 2005.
  20. ^ "Area 51". Official Xbox Magazine: 78. April 2005.
  21. ^ "Area 51". PC Gamer: 68. September 2005.
  22. ^ Scott Steinberg (May 23, 2005). "Area-51 (PC)". Maxim. Archived from the original on July 28, 2005. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  23. ^ Jason Hill (June 16, 2005). "Artful design". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  24. ^ Mike Wilcox (May 21, 2005). "We're not alone". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  25. ^ a b "Area 51 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  26. ^ a b "Area 51 for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  27. ^ a b "Area 51 for Xbox Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  28. ^ Rebecca Murray (August 31, 2004). ""Area 51" the Game Set to Become "Area 51" the Movie".
  29. ^ Pamela McClintock; Dave McNary (April 3, 2007). "Comicbook author to write 'Area 51'". Variety. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  30. ^ Rick Marshall. "What Does 'Paranormal Activity' Director's 'Area 51' Movie Mean For Grant Morrison's 'Area 51'?". MTV. Retrieved December 22, 2015.

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