I can’t tell you from a technical standpoint why Midway’s BlackSite is so great. The graphics aren’t stellar, the AI is lacking and your main weapon works like every other gun from every other FPS you’ve ever played. But it’s fun as hell—not a cookie cutter FPS, but a dynamic new title that captures the heart of its arcade shooter roots. The first demo level is stereotypical suburbia. You work your way through backyards and down cul-de-sacs while keeping your eyes open for aliens reminiscent of Resident Evil Hunters. You eventually command two NPCs who join your party, both who will run ahead to a spot of your choosing with a quick click of the bumper.
Funny detail? Whenever there is a door or gate, you need to send in the soldier to kick it in for you. Yeah, he’s the “kick the door down specialist” or something.
The game tracks your party’s moral as well, which I only noticed after plowing down a bunch of baddies when a very small message popped up on the screen.
But what’s so great? It’s the moments like when you are walking through one man’s backyard. He holds a pistol at you feebly and orders you to leave. Then a giant tentacle dragon thing pops out of his house.
You wonder if the guy has a hundred cats in there so he never noticed the smell.
It’s especially elements like these tentacle battles that are so reminiscent of arcade shooters. Here, and during another moment when you are battling a boss on a bridge (riding in a wonderfully scripted helicopter), you get that retro head-on, quarter-hungry shooter feel, complete with fireballs hurling toward your person that need to be shot lest they kill you.
Even many enemies seem to attack in a square-shouldered manner, begging for a good nut shot. The view is still the standard FPS complete with trademark ready-to-fire generic machine gun. But somehow developers have pulled off something…dare I say it…new?
Having seen screenshots and heard the pitch, I expected BlackSite to be the epitome of a cliché FPS. But the game is worth looking out for if you appreciate the reinvention of an old mechanic, or just some mindless fun.