Welcome to another Gaming For Official Use Only. I have wanted to cover this topic for a long time, but I really couldn’t decide on which Area 51 game I would cover. There’s the classic light gun arcade game from the 1990’s, and a fairly forgotten FPS reboot from the 2000’s. I spent too much time trying to figure out which I would cover until it hit me: I don’t have to choose. I’ll cover both before going on to probably the most well known conspiracy theory in mainstream media. Let’s start with the awesome light gun game.
The light gun version of Area 51 is a bit light on story, which is nothing unusual for a light gun game. In this game you play a member of the elite military unit Special Tactical Advanced Alien Response or STAAR. It’s not STARS, because otherwise Capcom would sue their asses. Again, the game doesn’t go into detail on the lore but the name seems to suggest that the STAAR unit was designed as a counter to any technologically advanced aliens trying to start shit on American soil. Area 51 of course has alien bodies and tech recovered from the 1947 Roswell crash – don’t worry, that’s another article – and of course the government has been experimenting upon them. Yeah, that’s always a good idea that never ends badly for anyone.
Well the scientists mess with things from beyond the solar system and pay for it by becoming zombies. The government responds by sending in generic Sci-Fi special forces unit #573… I mean STAAR. The STAAR unit’s mission objectives are to fight their way through the mutated hordes to reach Area 51’s nuclear fail safe and glass the whole area. The aliens, called Kronn, can not only fight as themselves but can take over the human researchers so you get all the fun of blasting aliens with the added bonus of a zombie apocalypse. SyFy Original Movies, you’re missing out on a goldmine!
As you’re unleashing some Old Testament Justice upon the alien invaders you of course have to avoid shooting your teammates. Apparently, every single special ops team in 1990’s shooters were trained to know the best position in a firefight, which is directly in front of your allies’ firearms. Interestingly, if you say “I’m chlorinating the gene pool” and blast nothing but the first three human allies at the beginning of the game, you can enter “Kronn Hunter Mode” which lets you play as an alien who’s hunting the other aliens complete with a different HUD and weapons. How many people found that by accident just because they got tired of their teammates not understanding that the “Friendly” in “Friendly Fire” isn’t what it sounds like? In other random trivia, the game itself ran upon a modified Atari Jaguar yet was never ported to that system because Atari hated money.
The game was a massive hit so of course a sequel was released a few years later called Area 51: Site 4. The plot is mostly in the same vein as the first: Area 51 researchers were playing with alien stuff, but that was a really bad idea so you must go in there and “kill them until they die from it.” The difference is this time you’ve got to do training missions along with the actual Site 4 mission, which was a nice touch. Site 4 wasn’t near the success of its predecessor so the license sat dormant for almost a decade until the PS2 era saw a reboot simply called Area 51. Instead of a light gun game this was a first person shooter, with David Duchovny supplying the voice acting for the main character. After all, Duchovny was somewhat famous for stuff relating to aliens and conspiracies but I doubt anyone’s heard of that show.
This game went full bore on conspiracy lore. In 1947 an alien spaceship crashed at Roswell, New Mexico and the US military took the remains to Area 51. The aliens, known as “Greys” under the leadership of a powerful Grey named Edgar, began a dialogue with members of the Illuminati – that is another article – who agreed to help the Greys take back their homeworld in exchange for highly advanced alien technology. The Illuminati help the Greys develop a mutagenic virus along with a mutated life form known as Theta to deliver the virus. However, the Illuminati were secretly planning to release the virus on Earth to help them dominate the planet which nearly none of the scientific personnel were aware of. One scientist, Dr. Winston Cray, discovered their plans and took action to stop the destruction of Earth. He releases the virus onto Area 51, knowing that the US government would have to send a military unit to stop the virus thereby accidentally saving the world. His plan almost works, except that Theta attacks the HAZMAT Team Alpha that is sent in, so a HAZMAT Team Bravo with mission specialist Ethan Cole – your character – is sent in to both recover Team Alpha and neutralize the threat. Unfortunately, Theta attacks again and Bravo is curb stomped. The End.
Of course not. Cole is bitten by a mutated human, but he is only partially turned which allows him to switch between human and mutant forms. This mutant form allows him to receive information telepathically from Edgar so he fights his way through the underground facility where he meets Dr. Cray. Cray then informs Cole that the virus can be cured, but the Illuminati aren’t fond of this idea so they attack and Cray is killed. Cole survives and goes further into the facility, eventually finding a sound set that’s made to look like a moon landing. In a rather nice subversion of the typical “the moon landing was faked” conspiracy it turns out we had been to the moon but found things we really didn’t want to, so we had faked later landings. It’s hinted that a second stage features a set for faking a Mars landing for the future. Cole soon finds Edgar for himself who reveals the full nature of the Grey/Illuminati partnership along with the fact that Edgar’s DNA is the base of the virus which has also killed many Greys. Edgar gives Cole a cure with the request that the alien spaceship, full of Theta clones to spread the virus, be blown up along with Area 51. Cole does so, jumps through a teleporter that just happened to be there, and finds himself on the famous highway leading to Area 51 just in time to watch it go kablooey. He sees a truck carrying an alien-like container and mutters something cynical about people.
The final game in the series is another FPS called BlackSite: Area 51. Instead of continuing on the somewhat cliffhanger ending of the previous game it follows an entirely new story. A Delta Force squadron under the command of Captain Aeran Pierce is investigating what is claimed to be a weapons bunker in Iraq, alongside scientist Dr. Weis. An alien crystal inside the bunker has mutated humans and wildlife into bizarre creatures called Xenos (Games Workshop, how’d you miss that lawsuit?) which attack, forcing the squad to retreat. Pierce is incapacitated by the crystal and a single soldier, Lt. Somers, is left behind in the chaos. A few years later an armed group has overtaken Area 51 so the same squadron along with Dr. Weis is sent to do what Delta Force does best. They arrive at the nearby town of Rachel to discover both an outbreak of Xenos and the fact that the militia controlling the base are actually cybernetically augmented US soldiers from a project called Reborn. As the squad tries to save the survivors in Rachel, they discover that Somers has come back as a soldier of Reborn. He explains that Reborn is a program to replace the volunteer military with super soldiers. Few care about them dying so they are pulled from various groups where they aren’t missed; the homeless, illegal immigrants and some military members with no family.
As is legally required in video games with shady military super soldier programs, one goes rogue and starts the insurrection. As they enter the base, the squad discovers Weis originally led the program but it was shut down years ago with the remaining Reborn soldiers sealed in the base. Somers had discovered an alien crystal in the base, released some sort of spore from the crystal to create the Xenos and does the Face-Heel Turn by attacking the squad and running back to Area 51. The squad fights back, along with another military group sent to retake Area 51, but the only survivor is Pierce. He is captured and taken to Area 51 under orders from Somers. Pierce then learns about the spores that Somers is planning to spread across the planet. With help from a repentant Dr. Weis, Pierce fights Somers in a shootout and shuts down the spore device. The game ends as Pierce and Weis leave to find out how bad the outbreak had gotten. In other words, you could say this game has Delta Force fighting the Universal Soliders who are spreading the aliens from Warhammer 40k out of Area 51. It’s like the craziest fever dream of a cross over that you could hope for. Again, why has Syfy Original Movies not done a film of this?!
Four games, three timelines yet all are connected by the common thread of the infamous Area 51. We all know the name, but what is Area 51 and does it even exist? Surprisingly, as of just a few years ago Area 51 officially exists but the history of the site is a bit murky. Let’s start this section with what is either fact or widely accepted as such before we get into the crazy stuff. What we call Area 51 is actually two facilities that are connected, Homey Airport and Groom Lake although the name Area 51 does date from a classified memo from the Vietnam War era. The Groom Lake title is appropriate as the facility is located at the bottom of the dry Groom Lake bed. Interestingly enough, the Homey Airport actually has an international airport code: KXTA. It’s located in the state of Nevada, just 83 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The nearest town is actually Rachel, as referenced in Blacksite, and a long, straight highway connects the base to Rachel, which the state of Nevada cheekily named “Extraterrestrial Highway.”
The purpose of the base of course isn’t said outright but it has been stated that it’s been used to test experimental aircraft as a dry lake bed is a perfect location to do so; the fact that it’s out in the middle of the desert bordering a nuclear test site makes it rather out of the way and secluded. A few projects rumored to have been developed in Area 51 are the U-2 spy plane, the F-117 stealth fighter and the Lockheed A-12, which is a precursor to the famous SR-71 Blackbird. The desert around Area 51 has been claimed to have a high amount of UFO activity, which strongly supports the theory the site is for aircraft testing. The site was also used to train pilots to fight against Soviet MIG aircraft that were brought over from Soviet defectors in a program with the single greatest code name ever, HAVE DOUGHNUT. No, I did not make that up.
The base itself was purchased in 1955 by the US Air Force originally to test the U-2 spy plane. The base actually shares a border with the Yucca Flat region of the Nevada Test Site, where over 700 nuclear tests occurred. In case you weren’t aware, you really shouldn’t go into that area unless you really enjoy dying of radiation poisoning (or happen to have a refrigerator handy). The base is very, very classified as a sign tells you at the furthest border that the guards are authorized to use lethal force, though for the most part the guards tend to avoid that. There isn’t a solid answer why the place is even called “Area 51” though most believe it’s based off the grid system used by the Atomic Energy Commission. The Air Force called it Area 51 because they didn’t believe the AEC would use that number. The airport in Area 51 actually began taking flights early in World War II under the name Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field with two dirt runways. They may have used this area to train bombers as craters are still visible nearby.
Until just the last few years Area 51 was perhaps the most famous “open secret,” at least here in the US. The US government refused to even so much as admit its existence, but its own actions essentially proved they had something in Groom Lake. The government was adamant about removing the area from any published aerial photography, which admittedly wasn’t much of a problem until the advent of satellite photography on the internet but there was one famous incident of space based photography getting censored. In the 1970s the US government launched the space station SkyLab and during the third manned mission, Skylab 4, one of the scientists innocently took a picture of the Earth while Skylab just happened to be over Groom Lake, Nevada. In a memo that went all the way up to the director of the CIA there were questions directed about why it happened at all. According to the Skylab personnel the only place on the entire planet that they could not photograph was Groom Lake, or as historian Dwayne Day put it “In other words, the CIA considered no other spot on Earth to be as sensitive as Groom Lake.” Being fair, CIA Director Colby commented on the memo in his own words that such secrecy was a bit overblown, as he pointed out that the Russians had their own satellites, the photos revealed nothing, and the whole thing could be countered by simply stating the USAF did classified test work at the location. The photography censoring continued into the Information Age as Google Earth infamously featured a large black rectangle over its photography of the location for many years. The location of other such boxes were usually highly classified locations such as a location in Russia identified as its counterpart to NORAD. It’s hilarious to me that the fact they worked so hard to cover up the area essentially proved to all interested that they had a classified base there because if there was truly no such thing as Area 51 why would they try so hard to hide it?
It was in 2013, answering a request under the Freedom of Information Act from 2005, that the CIA relented and for the very first time officially acknowledged Area 51’s existence. It immediately declassified a number of documents related to Area 51 and it’s history, ending decades of denials. It was hoped that such information releases would stop the many conspiracy theories surrounding the site, a few of which were beyond insane. Now for the fun part, the crazy ideas about what really happens in Area 51. I’m going to do this in bullet points so I can quickly do quite a few of the theories, and I’ll add my skeptic’s commentary on why I don’t believe this is true. Take it away, bulleted list!
- Alien tech/life forms: I’m lumping the two together since the most common conspiracy theory is that we recovered alien tech, corpses or even live beings from the infamous Roswell crash of 1947. Sometimes the theory goes further by stating that we reverse engineered most of the technology that makes the Information Age possible from alien tech. A good example of this idea is the “Transformers” live action movie series. Beyond the Lightspeed Barrier I’ve touched on in previous articles, I’m going to state unequivocally that I believe any species capable of interstellar – or hell, even interplanetary – travel could curb stomp humanity as an afterthought. A perfect analogy is European explorers versus native tribes. The tribes could at most send out ships for fishing while the Europeans traveled across oceans. Flint arrows never, ever beat gunpowder.
- Similar to the above, the base is used for meeting with alien visitors. The government uses the secrecy of the hidden base to meet with visitors from beyond the solar system. If you ignore my previous caveats and assume these beings are friendly it would actually make sense to use a highly classified location for such meetings. I still think this is as likely as Hideo Kojima releasing a game that allows you to play more than 5 minutes between cut scenes.
- Time travel. This theory states that the US gov’t uses Area 51 to research into time travel technologies, a trope used in the TV series “7 Days.” Again, if the gov’t was researching such tech Area 51 would be a fine place to do so. The problem is that while time travel is certainly allowed by certain solutions of relativity – for example, wormholes warp space time so they could just as easily send you across centuries instead of light years – but the technology to do so is FAR beyond anything we have today. Nobody has replicated the fine work of Dr. Emmett Brown, even though 1.2 gigawatts required by his machine is easily attainable with modern technology, though Deloreans are quite hard to find. The problem here is that time travel offers many MANY ways to completely screw up history beyond the infamous Grandfather Paradox. There’s simply far too many ways time travel would lead to horrifying things that I can’t imagine even the government is dumb enough to mess with it.
- Weather control. This is a common conspiracy and it has been applied to everything from HAARP, to aerial recon planes, to the International Space Station. It boils down to the idea that the government has tech that can completely change the weather in a given area to a chosen pattern. Usually it’s said along the lines of “The US caused that tsunami!” or whatever. While we can modify weather to a small degree – for example, causing rain by cloud seeding – the large scale manipulation of weather is completely beyond current science as the climate of Earth is an incredibly complicated system that would require enormous energy, computational power and information to handle. Interestingly, the UN has officially banned the use of weather modification, but only in warfare.
- Exotic transport. This has been applied to everything from teleportation to faster-than-light travel. While I will happily talk about FTL travel theories all day I don’t have that space here. Teleportation would require having the ability to monitor the information of trillions of atoms to teleport a human being in a manner similar to Star Trek, or the ability to open a traversable wormhole. Strangely, such an ability would allow for both FTL travel and even time travel but you would need “exotic matter” which is negative matter – NOT antimatter – and is anti-gravity and has negative mass. A really cool thing, if it even exists, which has never been proven.
- Aurora project. The Aurora project is a rumored high tech aircraft that the US supposedly worked on in the 80’s. Mockups somewhat resembled the SpaceshipOne but there was never any evidence such a program existed. Don’t worry, this is another article.
- Meetings for Majestic 12/some other shadow gov’t/One world gov’t. Here’s the second of the Big Two. Area 51 is used for meetings of secret gov’t cabals or shadowy groups who desire to have a one world government. Such groups have been named as, but not limited to: The Illuminati, Freemasons, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Majestic 12, the New England Patriots coaching staff, and Satanists. I’ve covered a few of those before so I’ll just go ahead and say that if any group really has the kind of power to hide in the shadows while taking over all of the planet then they possess an ability that has so far eluded the combined ability of humanity. If you have that kind of power, why the hell even hide? Just show up and do what you want because unless Chuck Norris shows up who the hell is going to stop you?!
I could honestly fill several pages with theories of what has happened in Area 51, but it mostly falls in those categories. Wikipedia’s article on Area 51 is quite in-depth for both reality and conspiracy, so I highly advise reading it. I doubt that any truly clandestine activities beyond current science have ever, or will ever, have occurred at Area 51, but it is one of the best sites I can think of for aircraft research. If we have just history to go on then maybe the rest of Area 51’s files will be declassified in 2073 and we’ll finally know how we used Roswell-recovered alien spacecraft to fight those damn Nazis on their hidden moon base in the 80’s or whatever craziness Syfy original movies cooks up. I’ll finish this with metal’s greatest tribute to Area 51, Hangar 18 by Megadeth. Until next time.