Review: The only transmitted disease most gamers run the risk of getting.
Infections tend to be bad things that nobody wants, but when you've got one coming from a developer like Planet Moon Studios, responsible for games such as Armed and Dangerous and Giants: Citizen Kabuto, vulnerability is a plus. The company's trademark symptoms of humor and fast-paced gameplay are mixed well with zombie-killing action, death metal music and a cool ?Infect the World? WiFi feature. Depth side effects aside, the thrilling third-person arcade qualities of Infected are the perfect cure for PSP owners looking for a solid game built exclusive for the handheld instead of ported for profit.
Infected fills Manhattan with the undead during the Christmas season due to the fact that more than holiday cheer is being spread. A virus is going around that turns just about everyone into flesh-eating zombies. For some unexplained reason, the blood of New York City Police Officer Stevens happens to be immune to it and even works as an antidote. As this rookie cop, you go around pumping the zombies with bullets or rockets from one of your ballistic weapons and then shoot them with a vial of your blood. In between missions that involve eliminating zombies, protecting civilians or getting them to a helicopter, conversations between Commissioner Burgees and Dr. Schaeffer in the war room provide you with instructions and comedy relief.
The humor ranges from being funny to being just plain offensive from the audio-only conversations dispatched to you from headquarters. It's funny to hear the phone call between the Prime Minister of Japan and the Commissioner, who, despite the positive sounding conversation, doesn't in fact know Japanese and thus accomplishes nothing. It's dumb humor, sure. However, like any good Leslie Neilson movie, it gets a decent laugh. On the other hand, you may find other jokes either side-splitting or insensitive every now and then. When a school trip arrives at headquarters and the Commissioner kills one of the students thinking he's a zombie when it turns out to be an entire class of mentally challenged children, that's either going to bother you or be one of the best joke of the game depending on your taste.
For the most part, the gameplay is arcade-basic in that you shoot zombies with your ballistic gun, then shoot them with your viral gun and run into humans to save them. However, you can score combos by shooting many zombies with your ballistic gun at once without finishing each one off with your viral gun one at a time so that they're automatically linked together. Then, finish just one off with your viral gun, and they all go splat and you score a combo because the cure travels between their weakened bodies. Sometimes to achieve mission medals and earn hazard pay, you need to finish with a certain number of combos, complete the level under a set amount of time or save a specific amount of civilians. From here, you can buy attribute or weapon upgrades in between the missions, which give the game some depth, and purchase alternative avatar elements, which don't affect your performance in the single-player game.
The weapons, although few in number, work perfectly for this arcade shooter: the more you kill, the better the weapons are at your disposal. You start out with a pistol in the beginning of each level and once you kill a couple of zombies, are upgraded to the shotgun, then to the machine gun, then to the RPG, and finally to the BMFG. On top of that, if you cease your slaughtering rampage, your weapon meter will begin to decrease and the onscreen gun ladder will go backwards. It's not your conventional way of ?switching? weapons, but it works great for a truly arcade style of play by encouraging you to go on a non-stop killing spree.
Your avatar does have an impact on the game's multiplayer mode, which includes up to eight players through local wireless play and head-to-head matches online. In the ad hoc mode, you're treated to modes of deathmatch, team deathmatch, savior, in which everyone must rescue civilians while dealing with blows from each other, and mad cow, a hot potato mode where the objective is to maintain mad cow form for as long as possible. Sadly, in addition to being limited to two-players, infrastructure is also restricted to deathmatch. Its saving grace is that when you beat your opponent, you infect them with you avatar. The loser of the match must beat a bunch of single player and multiplayer games to purify themselves of the virus. On top of that, you can track how far your infection has spread throughout world via PSP's browser. So while the actual matches are limited, the ?infect a foe? feature is endless fun.
The game's presentation sets the perfect tone for a zombie title with dark colors and death metal music. Many of the environments are recycled level after level and more detail could've been added theoretically, but this keeps the frame rate running at a constant, speedy rate, which is more important. The end result is a Grand Theft Auto inspired engine with hordes of zombies instead of hordes of prostitutes lining streets. The music contains tracks from bands like Ill Nino, Chimaira and Slipknot, the later appearing as special avatars along with Majesco's BloodRayne. With the exception of some overly grating songs, the soundtrack fits the theme perfectly.