The Brainy Gamer (via Electro Lemon) has a very interesting article up discussing the heady ideals of Blacksite: Area 51, Midway's latest attempt to bring the Area 51 label a decent game. By all accounts, the title is but a shallow one about shooting aliens and provides little of thoughtful substance, but according to lead designer Harvey Smith, its intentions are/were so much loftier, aiming to provide commentary on the state of the Iraq war:
The Brainy Gamer's writer expresses his disappointment at a message so subtle and interwoven that it actually isn't there at all. Aside from having the cajones to namedrop Iraq, it seems that Area 51 is very much just a game about aliens, and nothing more. He ends with frustration that games are not moving in the direction that Area 51 was promised to move in and I very much join him in his lamentation. More socially aware games, rich in commentary and provocative in message, are something I yearn for, and it's a shame that a game with such intent became a generic and shallow shooter.
Even BioShock fell way short of its deep, thoughtful promise. A game of supposed moral choice devolved into a very black-and-white, good-and-evil affair. In fact, most games claiming to be deep, engaging and shaded in grey turn out to be little more than shallow tarts in high-class dresses. Only Call of Duty 4's single player campaign has come close to an affecting and engaging socially aware experience this year, in my estimation. Other games could take a cue from it if they aspire to something greater than mindless monster fragging.