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Area 51 (2005)

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Area 51 is a 2005 first-person shooter survival horror video game developed by Midway Studios Austin and published by Midway for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Microsoft Windows, and is a loose remake of the 1995 light gun video game of the same name. Players control Ethan Cole, a HazMat operative voiced by David Duchovny sent to the infamous base to investigate some manner of viral outbreak.

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. 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), and Ian Abercrombie (as Dr. Cray).


Gameplay involves combat in a first person view, through the eyes of Ethan Cole. Players may either be required to move to a certain location in order to complete objectives, or at later stages, operate a stationary turret against oncoming enemies. The Player will have a team of Hazmat soldiers through the starting levels and will meet security forces on most of the floors that will not follow the player, but will just hold their position. The player's Hazmat soldiers are in fact invincible and cannot be killed unless the story demands it.


Throughout the game, players may use various weapons in order to defeat increasingly larger amounts of enemies. These weapons can be fired using one or both hands for increased firepower. Each weapon can be used either as a melee aid or for its intended purpose. Some weapons can also be dual wielded to increase firepower for the player.

In all cases, every weapon has two modes of firing, the first being a regular mode, while the second is a much more powerful mode of firing, (at the cost of accuracy,ammo etc.). Players may also use grenades in combat, one of a human make, and one of an alien design.

At a later stage in the game, once the player is infected, 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 and finding mutagen syringes.

Other aspects

A notable aspect of gameplay is the ability to scan and analyze various objects and environments. 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, apart from melee, and must switch to an available weapon in order to fight. 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.


An unknown virus has been released inside Area 51, and Team Bravo has been assigned to clean it up. First, due to a manpower shortage, they must protect a transport truck being targeted by a saboteur. Once inside, the team discovers that the virus turns people into murderous mutants, and anyone killed by a mutant turns into a mutant themselves.

As the game progresses, members of Team Bravo (and soldiers Ethan meets) are killed one by one by mutants, until only Ethan Cole, the player character, is left alive. Ethan is later bitten by a mutant, slowly turning him into a mutant. Later he finds Dr. Cray, who promises to cure him using a machine that can remove the virus. Before the process is complete, the machine loses power as Dr. Cray's laboratory is invaded. Ethan then gains the ability to switch between being a mutant and a human. Eventually Ethan makes his way through the complex until he finds a Grey, called "Edgar" several miles below the surface. Edgar tells Ethan about the history of the Greys and Area 51 and gives Ethan a cure to the virus in the form of Edgar's blood before he sends Ethan to destroy the alien ship preparing to leave with the virus. Ethan destroys the ship in an effort to stop production of the virus. Ethan then proceeds to destroy the alien's powercore in their facility, causing a massive explosion. He narrowly escapes by jumping through a portal that sends him back to the surface of Earth, only a short distance away from Area 51. Ethan watches as the base is destroyed in several tornado-like explosions, he then sees the same truck that he helped protect at the start of the game driving away, loaded with an unknown containment canister. The game ends with Ethan walking away from the base.


Gamespot gave it a 7.2 out of a possible 10. IGN and Game Informer both gave it 8.5 out of 10. 1UP, on the other hand, gave it a 6.5 out of 10. The average, as told by Gamerankings, has been a 78% out of 100%.

Freeware release

The game was released as freeware by the United States Air Force,.[1] It is no longer available on, but it can be downloaded from this link.


In 2004, ahead of the game's release, Paramount Pictures announced that they had reached an agreement concerning the film rights for the game.[2] In March 2007, counter-cultural comic book author Grant Morrison was hired to adapt the game as a screenplay.[3] This project is unrelated to the upcoming movie Area 51 by Oren Peli.[4]


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