In 1995 Area 51 was a hit in the arcades, so of course Midway cashed in and decided to port their shooter on the Saturn and PlayStation.
The graphics in area 51 are dated, bland, and grainy. The characters are Fully Motion Video - which is generally good for FMV, but that's not saying much - and so it almost always tends to look terrible. There are also only about three different enemies, sometimes different colored (but always the same). The enemies and allies are imposed over bland, repetitive backgrounds (although they are actually always different, they look quite similar); the results being from pleasing to the eyes.
It controls how you would guess, via a light gun (preferable) or controller. The controller proves adequate but I recommend the light gun if you want to take home any of the original arcade experience.
Let's analyze what is listed on the back of the box. "Incredible cinematic effects and stop motion animation sequences" Incredible my ass, everything here has been done for years. "Six long, intense stages of constant gun fire and alien encounters," which ends up being a flat out lie; you can beat the whole game in less then an hour, and the game is only intense during the last 5 minutes or so. "Engaging Sci-Fi storyline with aliens UFO's and secret experiment cover ups," no again, here is the story line: Aliens invaded area 51, kill them.
"Tons of secret rooms and buried Government secrets," guess I have to give them that claim, there are over seven different secret rooms, several of which aren't in the arcade game. Even then, they are extremely hard to get and you just about have to know what you are looking for.
"Power ups and sophisticated weaponry keep you armed and dangerous" Sophisticated? It has the same weapons from every other shooter! Lastly the most bogus claim of all; "Explore an accurate simulation of the most secretive air base in the world!" God I hope that is a joke. But I digress; games aren't graded by the claims the developers make, just look at Daikatana.
Genre clich?s are abundant throughout the game; you have the shot gun power up (they color the shell green to make in "Hi-Tech"), automatic power up, and machine gun power up. Between each section you get your shot totals and percentages, you get points for kills which go on a top 10 list, shoot identical barrels throughout the game to blow up the enemy, and shoot down incoming projectiles.
This game brings absolutely nothing new to the genre and generally looks like crap. It is blessed by Revolution X's existence in that because of Aerosmith's shooter, Area 51 is no where near the worst shooter on the system. It is mediocre for a light gun shooter, but even worse when compared to everything else. Buy only if you demand more shooter in your life.