This much anticipated and hyped game is finally here. If you haven’t heard of it before I’ll give you the story preview as released by Majesco…
It’s Christmas time in New York City and a strange virus has appeared turning seemingly normal citizens into the insane, violent Infected. Rookie Officer Stevens is one of the first victims … but unlike others, he is strangely immune. The mysterious Dr. Schaeffer discovers that Stevens’ blood can be used to destroy the otherwise invincible Infected, and creates a special “viral gun” filled with Stevens’ blood. Blast this straight into the Infected, and they will violently explode.
So, did you get that? Well good, because that is probably the only story that you’ll be getting in this game. Infected is more of an old school shoot-em up then a full on story driven shooter, think of Infected as more of a Serious Sam then say a F.E.A.R or Halo. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that this is a bad thing. I have many good memories of gunning down wave after wave of critters in Serious Sam on my PC. The whole run and gun method of gaming can be a good thing. The question now remains… did they do it right in Infected? We’ll see about that later on in my review.
Let’s chat a little bit about the Infected’s gameplay options. Gameplay in Infected is basically divided into single player and multiplayer modes. Let’s focus on the single player game first; I’ll get into the multiplayer later in the review. When you start the campaign mode you are first asked to create your avatar for the game. You might be thinking that this is another game offering useless avatar customizations to extend gameplay time, but this time spent on your avatar is actually important. I’ll get to this a little bit more when I cover the multiplayer modes, but you should make sure you like the look of your Avatar, as your fallen foes in multiplayer will start to see your avatar running allover their games. But anyways, on with the gameplay.
The main campaign mode in Infected takes you through 40 levels of zombie hunting. The main goal in each level differs a bit, sometimes you have to rescue people, other times you have to clear the level in a certain timeframe, but the main goal in each level is to wipeout the zombie horde as fast and brutally as you can. You are not just limited to using your viral gun to dispatch the Infected horde, there are a pile of different weapons that you can unlock as you make your way through the game. Once unlocked your guns will automatically become available in a particular level based on how fast you are dispatching the zombies. For example, you start with a handgun, but kill 5 or 6 zombies quickly and you’ll get the shotgun, kill some more quickly and you’ll get the machine gun, ect ect. Of course, these guns will have to be purchased first with the mission bonus you get at the end of each level. Confused yet? I was. But this auto gun upgrade system becomes second nature after a few levels.
Of course your guns alone won’t kill the infected, well except for the last weapon you unlock; dispatching the infestation remains a job for your viral gun. Guns are used to whittle down the health of the infected; once they are injured enough you can shoot them with your viral gun to make them explode. A zombie’s life is displayed by the glow around them. Yellow zombies still need to be shot; red ones are ripe for some exploding. When two or more red zombies are close by, you’ll start to see a strange orange bolt thing; don’t be afraid of this though, it’s a good thing. This means that when you shoot one red zombie, all the red zombies around will also explode. This is the chain system, and it’s both the key to getting bigger guns and also a medal requirement in some levels. And I’ll tell you now, there is nothing more enjoyable then a 10x chain, blood and guts fly everywhere coating the screen in blood if you are too close. Nice. Oh, and if some yellow zombies are nearby when you explode a red zombie… the flying blood and chunks will actually damage them often turning them red. I used this effect when a pile of zombies were running at me. Kill one and then explode the chain that appears.
I mentioned medal requirements so I’ll touch on that a bit here. Each level has a bronze, silver and gold requirement for level completion. You’ll have to attain a medal in a particular level to pass it and open up others. Getting gold in a particular level isn’t a requirement, but doing so will net you a pile more cash as a bonus that will help you to unlock the various locked avatars and weapons.
The controls in this game do not require much getting used to, which was nice to see for a shooter. The analog nub moves your avatar around the level, if you want to strafe you can hold down the right trigger. Your main weapon is fired with X and your viral gun fires with the square button. You can also do a 180 degree turn by hitting down on the DPad. This is a nice addition that is also very necessary in certain levels.
Graphically, Infected is quite impressive for a PSP title. There will be points in the game where you’ll have 15-20 Infected running after you, and the engine won’t even hiccup. In fact, the only time I saw any slowdown is when I lined up a huge chain reaction. Sadly, the resulting explosion of blood and carnage was too much for my little PSP. Not that I can complain though, that was one huge explosion.
If there is anything bad to say about the graphics in Infected, it’s that the levels are basically the same. All of the levels take place around New York, so I can understand that the levels would be similar, but these levels are cookie-cuttered from each other. Sure there are a few levels that take place in a park, but most of them are all rectangular, in the same cityscape, with subway connections that take you from one area to another. I would of liked to see some more variety, but like Serious Sam that I compared this game to earlier… this game is here for one thing; for us to run and gun and kill us some zombies.
Majesco made an interesting, yet fitting, choice for the soundtrack in this game. While playing through the levels you’ll be treated to track after track of heavy and death metal. I’ll tell you now that this is not my music of choice, but it fits in perfectly with the crazy run and gun style in Infected. Bands such as Chimaira, Slipknot and Junkie XL have songs on this soundtrack, so yeah… it’s loud. As for the sound effects and all other audio pieces, it all fits. The guns sound powerful, and the splatter of blood and guts sounds just as it should. Everything here just fits, and makes for a great game audibly.
So what about multiplayer you ask? Infected has it, and it’s great. You can play in four player deathmatches through AD-HOC, or two player deathmatches through online Infrastructure multiplayer. Yes, only two players online. I was originally disappointed by this piece of info, and still am really, but I keep reminding myself that two players online is better then zero players online. Games have to start somewhere I guess, I was just hoping that we would have been past that hump already.
The only neat twist that Majesco added in for multiplayer matches is the ability to infect the people that you beat. Yes, you can infect other people’s games in Infected! Once infected people your victim can then spread your virus to other people they beat. If you do become infected, and want to clean your game up you can play through 3 special unlocked missions in the single player mode. In these missions the zombies will all become the avatar of the person who infected you! So remember back when I said that avatar selection/creation was important? This is why. This is a unique and quite inventive addition to this game, I only wish that more then two people could be in an online game. Oh well, maybe that will be an option in Infected 2, if that ever comes out.
If you are looking for a fun mindless shooter, Infected is most definitely the game for you. Although I’m not sure about how the replayability will hold out for this game. I rented and quickly beat the single player campaign, but like most of the other Adhoc based multiplayer games, I really don’t know enough players locally that would have a PSP and this game to go with it. Better online play could of really made this game a stand out star in the PSP game scene, sadly we might have to wait for another version of this title before more players get infected.
The Zombies and gore are great, the repetitive levels are a bit of a drag though.
If heavy metal and big guns are your thing, this game is for you. Everything sounds great, and the soundrtrack keeps you pumped.
The controls are some of the best in a shooter on the PSP.
I had high hopes for the multiplayer extending the life of this game. Sadly, 2 players online does get old rather quickly.
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