We were toying with the idea that the standfirst should just read, “Blackshite more like”, but it’s a bit too obvious really.
Better then to lead with a direct quote from BlackSite’s designer Harvey Smith, who has saved us the trouble of coming up with lots of reasons as to why there is no point in buying this game, except that’s exactly what we’re gong to do anyway. We would’ve liked to get Smith to do the review, but he’s incredibly difficult to get hold of these days.
It’s a bit odd reviewing something that’s already been damned by its designer, we’re pretty sure this has never happened before. Plus there’s the fact BlackSite has been out on the Xbox 360 and PC since December last year and was getting scores of around 50 to 60%. But can things really get any worse for this absolute clusterflap of a game?
Yes. A big fat yes, smeared all over the disc currently making our PS3 sigh beyond belief. It’s not like the idea behind BlackSite isn’t good, it’s a bit Resistance: Fall Of Man obviously with aliens mingling with good ol’ US soldiers for a bit of a shootout, but it has a slight subversive undercurrent that anyone who finds American politics hilarious will enjoy. But there’s no chance in hell that a bit of smirking at Bushisms can save this from going down as one of the poorest FPSs ever. It’s worse than Turok for God’s sake.
It starts off with a jaunt through Iraq as you pleasingly kill off each and every threat to America, while trying to find some WMDs, which then turn out to be mere tanks of chlorine to be used as a biological weapon – just like in WWII! Smell the satire! (That being that there are no WMDs and the Iraqi’s are ill-equipped to be a threat to America and so on.) And then… and then…
There are only freaking aliens running around and mysterious artifacts, and some more aliens, then some confusing cutscenes followed by some long loading times. Long enough to feel like three years have passed, which is handy because in story terms three years later you reunite with a couple of your team-mates from Iraq and have to go and sort out the infamous Area 51, which has become overrun with aliens and zombie soldiers. It’s a double whammy of B-movie schtick.
All this boils down to is that instead of shooting Iraqis and having your beardy tough guy team-mate shout stupid things, you’re shooting aliens and having your beardy tough guy team-mate shout stupid things. He’s not the only stupid thing, you’re pretty dumb, too. Not you personally, your character, Aeran Pierce, who might be brilliant at shooting stuff and getting on the obscene number of machine-gun turrets (seriously there’s about three in every single section), but can he open a simple door by himself? Can he bollocks.
Every time you’re supposed to go through a door, you’ll know because there’s this big green sign spinning in front of it. You are then required to call a team-mate over to open it for you. And that means waiting, and when you’re playing something like BlackSite, waiting is the last thing you want to do. You just want it to be over as soon as possible. The whole game clocks in at about six hours, if you didn’t have to wait for someone to open every bloody door, we reckon we could have been done with this in about three.
Although there is quite a nice duckingbehind- cover system, it’s actually the rest of the combat that drags the game down even further. The lack of weaponry is one thing, there’s hardly any different guns and since most of the aliens rely on melee attacks you don’t get any sci-fiweaponry for quite a while. We like the fact there’s no dual wielding though, it feels better somehow, but it sure is dull switching through the few paltry weapons and having so many on-the-rails sections and far too many times you’re manning a mounted machine gun blowing away waves of pesky scuttling aliens.
But the worst thing about the PS3 version of BlackSite is the frame rate. It stutters, it freezes, it nearly costs you your life and another lengthy load to get back to the checkpoint. Obviously, this is only when there are large numbers of enemies on screen, but once you get a little way in there’s always a large number of enemies on screen. Wee scuttling things that explode frame by frame when you shoot them. It’s so bad, it makes you think about buying a special Blu-ray laser cleaner just in case that’s what’s causing it, and then buying one anyway because you feel that the BlackSite disc has sullied it.
Harvey Smith is right, and Midway has managed to publish this prime example of a rush job, a delayed one at that. Congratulations on a massive failure, this one is going in the history books.