On March 21st, 2007 PSX Extreme was invited to attend Midway's Press Event right here in New York City. Midway scoped out Shop Studios as their venue for the second time and it was quite an enjoyable event, complete with a cocktail hour thereafter. Most important though were the games Midway had on display, one of which was an all new Area 51 game titled Blacksite: Area 51.
When I was first previewed Blacksite, it was a hands-off experience based on what I'd seen of the game, and information that Midway had provided me with. Well, this time around I was able to go hands-on with a demo of Blacksite and I came away fairly impressed. The Xbox 360 is currently the lead platform behind the game's development, but the PS3 version is expected to ship side-by-side with the X360 version, so fear not.
Now, immediately the first thing I noticed about Blacksite was its impressive use of textures and the way the pouring rain coated the entire environment with a glistening finish. The textures on the walls and the ground were so impressive that they were borderline distracting. On top of that, the scope of the game did feel quite grand. For instance, the enemies range from a miniature size, to a standard size, to a toppling size that's quite intimidating. And intimidating is how the demo also ends, with a creature about the size of a football field crashing down near you and coming to life.
The environments were fairly destructible, which was a given considering that Blacksite is employing Unreal Engine III. But it must be said that even though Blacksite is using UEIII, Midway has actually gone and retooled the engine to improve its performance and has added custom libraries and tools of their own. In other words, Blacksite's engine is actually a fairly modified version of Unreal Engine III.
Commanding your team is done with a simple point and click, and is much more accessible as opposed to a game like Ghost Recon. Likewise, your fellow squad mates' performance will be based on their morale; if you guys are taking a beating, the morale will be low. On the other hand, if you're performing well, their morale will be high and their nature will become a bit more aggressive.
As far as multiplayer goes, Midway is aiming to support up to 16 players, and at the very least we'll see 12. Most importantly though, I can confirm online co-op gameplay for Blacksite. Yes, I repeat, online co-op. So far, Blacksite is coming along extremely well and our faith is quite high with it. Stick around for more content as it comes our way.