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Awful Review: Blacksite: Area 51 (Xbox 360)

In one of the most egregious examples of poor timing ever reported, Blacksite was released in November 2007.
Sent to die on a battlefield where the heroes of the day were known well in advance: Rock Band, Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, and Modern Warfare (nee Call of Duty 4, and releasing THE SAME DAY), Blacksite never had a chance.  Which is really too bad.  It's not a "AAA" game, but it is the equal of other tier two shooters like Battlefield: Bad Company (which EA had the great sense to release in the middle of the following summer instead of going up against four of the largest titles released in 2007).
Published by Midway and developed by Midway Austin (Tribes Aerial Assault, and the first revival of Area 51 also called Area 51), Blacksite takes the name of one of Midway's venerable yet awful arcade franchises, and then runs the other way completely.  A team of poorly behaved special forces searching for WMDs in Iraq uncovers a bunker containing an alien device.  When activated, the device engulfs one of the members of the squad and the protagonist escapes along with the accompanying science expert.  Years later an alien invasion in Nevada apparently lead by escaped US military forces exposed to alien technology in a super-soldier program brings the protagonist and the science expert back together to kick some ass.
The ass kicking is solid.  Sniping and general weapon handling is accurate and pleasing.  Ammo is just rare enough to force the player to ration their use of various weapons instead of finding a single adequate weapon and using it for the entire game.  Overall the feel of combat is similar to the original Half Life, but in larger open areas.  Some set pieces also feel very specifically inspired by Half Life 2 (which is good and bad at the same time).  Graphically the game could use another pass.  The set pieces that are inspired by Half Life 2 unfortunately invite visual comparisons with that game, which was released in 2004, a full three years before, and still looks better (particularly the 360 release which hit the week before Blacksite, another case of poor timing).  Blacksite also features adequate driving sequences (no worse than those in HL2 or indeed most first person shooters).
The story falls apart at the end and there's a climactic boss battle that doesn't feel right at all.  However, the overall story is interesting, even if certain of the characters are more than worthless examples of humanity.
Overall: Better than Bad Company, really bad timing, not as good as Half Life 2 or Modern Warfare (big shockers there).  A really good rental because you can easily wrap up most of the single player achievements in a weekend.  Sadly, the developers also chose to put the majority of the achievement points into the multiplayer game.  If there was ever anyone playing multiplayer Blacksite, they're almost certainly not playing it anymore.