Midway's 2005 Area 51 game has been lovingly restored to work on modern PCs thanks to the efforts of gaming journalist and tech enthusiast Lucas C.
Area 51 is an iconic location in gaming. Many gamers might remember their visit to the secret military base in Rare's Perfect Dark, a franchise that has a brand-new game in the works. Others (like myself) may have fond memories of the classic Area 51 lightgun arcade game that is probably still being played in arcades around the world.
That original lightgun game developed into a small franchise of shooters. Unfortunately, we haven't had much in the way of new games since 2007 -- and remasters can be pricey affairs that sometimes go badly wrong. Fortunately, a dedicated games journalist and tech enthusiast named Lucas C has done the hard work for us and managed to get one of these classic shooters working on modern PCs.
How Midway's 2005 Area 51 Game Was Restored for Modern PCs (and How to Get It)
Surprisingly, the 2005 Area 51 game wasn't completely broken on modern PCs. However, it did have "a collection of smaller problems" that needed to be resolved according to Lucas C's account of the development experience (via Reddit). This was tackled through "a combination of DirectX wrappers and my own configurations, scripts, and code patches when necessary."
The original game featured mission specialist Ethan Cole (voiced by David Duchovny) and HAZMAT Team Bravo is sent to rescue another team that was attacked by a mutant creature known as "Theta." It's a pretty alright shooter as far as these things go and it has surprisingly good voice casting; it also features Powers Boothe, Marilyn Manson, and the legendary Nolan North in one of his first voice acting gigs.
One question does need to be raised: how exactly can this game be distributed in the open without any problems? Well, you see, the United States Air Force paid game developers a bunch of money to distribute three games for free, one of which was the 2005 Area 51 game. It is that version of the game that Lucas C worked on to get it running on modern systems.
You can download the restored Area 51 game on Lucas C's website. Oh, and it also has online multiplayer, too, so you can play it with some friends if you're looking for a fun nostalgia trip. It's a bit of a process to put it all together, but it's sure to be a lot of fun -- especially for fans who enjoyed the game when it first launched over 15 years ago.
What's your favorite game in the Area 51 franchise? Did you ever have a chance to play the original lightgun game? Let us know in the comments below!