Written by: Nick Farinola // Edited by: Joe Ahart

Area 51 is somewhat of a hot topic online. Whether you call BS on the siege or not, you can’t deny the interest behind the idea of wanting to know the history of what goes on behind the sealed doors of the notorious and highly classified US Air Force base. Do aliens actually exist? Are these alien lifeforms being experimented on in Area 51? Is our government hiding their existence from us on purpose? So many questions, so little answers. That is unless our people storm the compound. If you’re one of those people who had signed up on the Facebook group to charge Area 51, I have a list of seven games that will prepare you for the battle. I’ve compiled a small list of both retro and contemporary games that may or may not, depending on your mood or whether or not you’re an internet troll looking for a brawl, have been as widely accepted and praised as other games, but play along, would ya?

First up we have Area 51. I mean, I would be doing everyone a disservice if this game was absent from my list. It has Area 51 in the title for crying out loud! In 2005, the now defunct Midway released a pretty standard first-person-shooter with an overly-complex plot circulating around, well, Area 51! To make everything simple, the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico was covered up by the government and then brought to the Area 51 compound. The Greys (a.k.a the alien people on the cover of the box) made contact with the illuminati, and from there on struck a deal, giving the illuminati advanced weaponry and the ability to perform research on human subjects with a mutagenic virus. Simple, right? Well, at least it sounds cool. Exploring the depths of Area 51 all while engaging in fun combat with aliens and the illuminati are great fun. Oh, did I happen to mention that you can unleash mutagenic powers once you get infected early on in the game? No? Yeah, you can do that.

Up next, we got a personal favorite of mine. Destroy All Humans! (2005) And Destroy All Humans 2! (2006) (don’t worry about the others that come after) place the player in the space boots of Crypto, or Cryptosporidium 137 if you want to be technical, an alien who arrives on Earth in 1959 to investigate Earth and search for his predecessor clone, Cryptosporidium-136, who disappeared in 1947. The objective? Well, destroy all humans. Taking the form of what cinema and pop culture deemed acceptable for what an alien would look like then, Crypto is a small, potty-mouthed, grey alien with a un-proportionally big head and huge eyes. The satirical, overly-exaggerated nature of it all, the violence, and the B-movie plot culminate to deliver exactly what its title promises. Crypto is armed to the teeth with awesome alien weaponry, from an electricity ray to an anal probe, and has a ton of ridiculous mind abilities, allowing the player to mind read and to disguise themselves as another human for a short period of time. 

Coming up at number three is Saints Row IV, which is probably the oddest entry in the series. If you’re a fan of the series, then you’re aware that it wasn’t until the third game that it found its footing to differentiate itself from Grand Theft Auto. We transition from dildo melee weapons to fighting an alien invasion as the president of the United States in a simulated reality…kind of like the Matrix. Come to think of it, Saints Row IV is the Matrix. If an alien invasion wasn’t enough of a catch to buy this game, then the fact that you have super powers should. As I continue to explain this game to you, the more I realize that it really is the Matrix. The Saints Row series is known for its crass and over-the-top humor, and the fourth entry does not disappoint in that department, delivering an insanely fun gameplay, and an entire city to wipe clean of the alien infestation.

And at number four, I bring to you Dead Space. Where do I even begin? This game series has a special place in my heart, which is ironic because it never fails to scare the living shit out of me. You play as Isaac Clarke, a space engineer looking for his girlfriend who went silent on the USG Ishimura, an interstellar mining ship. Little does Isaac know, the Ishimura has been devastated by an alien infestation, turning people into reanimated corpses known as “Necromorphs.” The atmosphere is suffocating, the violence brutal, and the lore profound. The series draws heavily from movies like James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) and Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon (1997). The third-person, survival horror game-play is tense as Isaac must adapt and develop weaponry to take on the varied alien threat. Though each entry never sold notably well (and the third game having more of an action focus that ultimately led to the demise of Visceral games), cult interest did spark comic book and animated film adaptations.

Poor Isaac can’t catch a break. [Credit: Visceral Games, EA]
Next up is Alien Isolation. Look, I’ve praised this game so much in both my writing and my YouTube videos, so I’ll try and keep this succinct. Alien Isolation is arguably the best Alien game on the market right now. Playing off of the defensive mechanics of Outlast, Alien Isolation introduces us to Amanda Ripley…that’s right, the daughter of Ellen. Aware of her mother’s disappearance, Amanda comes across the Nostromo’s flight recorder located on the Sevastopol, a remote space station owned by the Seegson corporation. As you’d probably assumed, all hell breaks loose when an alien infestation devours the station. The game does arm Ripley with certain weapons and gadgets, but she is in no way a colonial marine. Ammo is scarce, and the alien hunting you in an unscripted manner cannot be killed, so stealth is usually the best approach. What struck me about this game immediately was the overall presentation, something developer Creative Assembly nailed. The retro futuristic vibe of the original movies is here full force, and on a technical level, the game is impressive. Aside from a few noticeable frame drops, the dynamic lighting and fog system seriously enhance the experience. Unlike some of the other games on this list, Alien Isolation will prepare you to take on a more menacing alien force with careful consideration. 

You better hope the Xeno doesn’t see you. [Credit: Creative Assembly]
The last two on my list differ greatly in quality, but I wanted to include them together. Duke Nukem Forever is a critically-panned abomination. Well, that’s what critics believed at least. To me, it’s a testosterone-fueled adventure with the beloved Duke Nukem as he takes on an alien threat to our home planet. He’s here to chew bubblegum and kick some ass…only problem is, he’s all out of gum. As a Duke Nukem game, it’s disappointing, but the fact that it’s not a complete shit show after its hellish development is a miracle in its own right. Duke Nukem Forever will deliver all the thrills you need for a Friday night for a cheap price. Hail to the king, baby! The other game, or rather game series, is XCOM; specifically XCOM Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2. This is an alien game that forces you to use your noggin. XCOM is a notoriously difficult, turn-based strategy game, but dying has never been so exciting. The games introduce, and are known for the permadeath mechanic, where any one of your soldiers, no matter how upgraded they are, can die and stay dead. You more often than not feel incredibly overwhelmed and outnumbered, but a smart commander comes out victorious. 

Hail to the king, baby! [Credit: 2K, 3D Realms, Gearbox Software, Triptych Games, Piranha Games]
So folks, here’s your Area 51 survival guide. Did I miss any other games that could help against an actual alien threat? Let me know! As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read, and for those of you actually going to Nevada…good luck.     

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