|System: PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Midway||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Midway||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 12, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 2-10||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Aside from this aliens-in-our-own-backyard appeal, BlackSite feels pretty average. Not bad, just not remarkable in any way. The shooting feels good-although we would have enjoyed a few more weapons. The simple squad commands work okay, but seem mostly unnecessary and occasionally forced; we would've been okay with opening our own doors and setting our own explosive charges.
The story offers the usual mix of government conspiracies and human experimentation, and when BlackSite leads you to a military compound or secret government facility to drive this narrative, it ironically feels less interesting than fighting back chemically-engineered super soldiers on Main St. BlackSite also features a morale system that, like the squad commands, doesn't so much interfere with the experience, but never seems to add to it either. Based on how well you're fighting your squad will receive a boost or a hit to their morale; on-screen text prompts when this is happening, but we never noticed a significant difference as far as the tide of battle turning in our favor or not.
BlackSite's audio and visual presentation generally gets the next-gen job done, with the only notable exception being the absence of some ambient sounds; water bursting from pipes and boots trampling over ever-changing terrain are two areas in particular that could've upped the immersion with appropriate audio cues. However, the guns and grenades penetrate the ear with meaty pops and explosions, and the summer-blockbuster-like score will keep you hoofing it to the next check point. The graphics are supported by some nice set pieces; an enormous multi-tentacled alien wrapping his many mits around an interstate bridge is a highlight, as are many other moments where screen-filling foes surprisingly pop out of real-world structures. The levels also get injected with a bit of visual variety via fast-moving vehicle segments where you're patrolling Nevada's highways in a Humvee and taking to the skies, above the red-canyon landscapes, in a military chopper.
BlackSite is a good shooter, but in a season packed with game-of-the-year caliber FPS offerings, "good" might not be enough to get it noticed; seems Midway would've done themselves a financial favor by releasing this during mid-winter when we're starving for quality titles. If you're looking for a ground-breaking experience or a robust selection of multiplayer modes- BlackSite's don't offer much more than a weekend distraction--this isn't it. However, if you find the idea of fighting aliens in your own backyard appealing, you won't do better than BlackSite's relatable, the-truth-is-out-there experience. Master Chief might be a universe-saving hero with a beam-of-blue-light hottie for a sidekick, but has he ever felt the satisfaction of turning a trailer park into a mass of alien-ooze-splattered twisted metal?
CCC Freelance Writer