Infected (Video Game)

Available now for the Sony PSP

Released by Majesco Games

For the gamer and genre fan on the go, what could be better than some quick portable zombie killing carnage? Not much! Since the very first mention of Infected, PSP owners have been chomping at the bit. The question beckons: Does Majesco’s zombiethon make the cut, or is it just death warmed over? Unfortunately, it’s a bit of both.

Let me start off by saying that I bought the Sony PSP for this game. The premise was just too tasty. Not only would the gamer be able to slay the dead whenever they wanted, but their player avatars could infect other gamers’ PSPs all over the world.  Imagine if you will the simple satisfaction to be gained from knowing your character’s evil mug will be haunting some schmuck in South America! Just the mere notion gets me giddy. Talk about a whole new level of trash talking and bragging.

Let’s get a bit more in-depth here. Basically how this works is after you first pop your Infected UMD into your PSP, you’re asked to create a character (also referred to as an avatar). After customizing its look and other attributes, you can bring your character online to compete against other opponents via a wi-fi connection anywhere in the world. Once you get hooked up into a multi-player game, if you should win, your player avatar will now show up as an enemy on your opponents’ infected PSP game for a short period of time. They can also pass your infection on to others by playing them. The best part? You can even track your infection online.

Now I don’t know about you, but when it comes to playing videogames online, I am one spiteful prick that revels in being annoying. When I infect, I want my avatar to be as ridiculous looking as possible. I’m talking pink leopard skin prints here, people. That’ll learn someone for daring to play me! The only downside — I’ll probably lose and end up with someone else’s stupid looking character haunting me for hours. Sigh. Anyway, this is without question the best part about Infected.

Before we get any further into the multi-player aspect, let’s look at the single-player campaign. The setting is around Christmastime in New York City, and the mayor just gave the word to light up the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Upon illumination we see that some of the city’s residents have been infected by a virus that makes them have an extreme hankering for human flesh. The infection spreads like wildfire, except for you. You are immune. Not only that, but just one drop of your blood can make a baddie explode on contact should they have an open cut. The country’s surviving officials fashion you with a standard weapon to wound the enemy and a secondary plasma firing one to finish them off. Thus begins the story. It’s you and your blood against thousands of hungry zombies. Sound like a blast? It is. Except . . . 

Things get repetitive fast. Every mission is comprised of the same thing. Kill them all, escort this one, and protect that one. This is par for the course the entire time. Compounding the game’s repetitive nature, you will frequently find yourself blasting away at the same kind of zombies over and over again. Oh look, another 10 Santa zombies. Joy. Along the way you’ll pick up power-ups and of course extra player skins for further customization of your avatar. The monotony is only broken up by the game’s hilarious cut scenes. These were a real surprise to me. They are funny as hell, but at the same time they kind of bummed me out. I like my horror serious. I was hoping for an engaging, spooky experience. What I got was a thrill a minute uberviolent laugh-a-thon. For me the experience was both charming and disappointing. Gamers waiting for a good portable survival horror title will still have to wait.

The graphics themselves are a bit of a mixed bag. There are times when the visuals are eye-popping, but the character models are kind of blurry, resembling that of a jaggy PS One game. Adequate, but not cool. The sound design is great with crystal clear shrieks of agony and explosions, but the music can get on your last nerve. Slipknot is the featured artist on the soundtrack, and skins of them also appear in the game. Other than them the soundtrack is comprised of similar sounding bands such as Ill Nino along with a host of techno/electronica tracks. In small doses the soundtrack is good and fits the onscreen action. After a while though I found myself wishing that everyone would just shut the hell up. Luckily, there is a jukebox feature which lets you decide where, when, and if you want to hear any of the game’s tracks.

Now back to multi-player. Yeah, playing online sounds good and infecting the world sound great, but you can only do so in one game mode: one-on-one death matches. Again, after a while you get that “Yeah, this is cool, but what else is there?” feeling.

Infected is a game with a lot of great ideas and a lot of ambition. As it is, the game is exciting and a lot of fun to play. It just doesn’t stay that way for long. If we ever do see a sequel, I think the game gurus at Planet Moon Studios will deliver all of the gory goods exactly the way that we want them. For now, however, Infected stands as an ultra violent quick fix at best.

3 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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