The PSP has been available for quite sometime now, but I think that consumers, as well as developers, are still a little confused about what they want to do with this powerful handheld system. The PlayStation Portable is capable of producing complex 3D games, powerful sound, and even supports online play. However, power of this size comes with a cost, the main being load times. PSP owners are looking for console games that they can play on their handheld complete with interesting story lines, entertaining gameplay, and full high-res graphics and sound. However, in order to display all these features, the game will bog from long load times, something that is not only unacceptable on console games, but even more so on a handheld. Infected is one of the first PSP games to give gamers what they want: an interesting story and entertaining gameplay with less load times. And the infrastructure mode is pretty cool as well.
Infected?s main gameplay focus is zombies. Unlike the slower paced, conserve-ammo-whenever-you-can, Resident Evil style, Infected is built upon action, similar to a Contra or Smash TV. The game?s story is a tried and true theme, but works very well with the gameplay. A virus has caused the general population to be turned into destructive zombies. Stevens, the playable character, was attacked by these zombies, but unlike everyone else his immunity was able to ward off the infection. Not only was his immune system strong enough to fight off the virus, it is also strong enough to attack, kill, and explode the virus. Sure enough, your blood becomes the only hope of saving mankind from certain doom. A special gun is then created, that uses your own blood as ammo, to fight off the killer zombies.
This 3rd person action shoot?em up starts off as an interesting gaming concept, but does grow stale within time. Each stage has a main mission to complete such as save the hostages, bring the hostages to a helicopter, or destroy all the zombies. However, every stage is nothing more than a run and gun. Zombies must first be weakened with a standard weapon such as a pistol or shotgun, then finished off with your viral gun which explodes zombies into a pile of goo. If multiple zombies are weakened and are within close proximity of each other, then a combo can be executed by killing these zombies at the same time. Combos grant more points, which in turn will allow more things to be unlocked.
After each stage, the player is awarded points and medals. Points are collected and spent in the option screen to purchase stat and weapon upgrades. Not only are new weapons available for purchase, but each weapon can also be upgraded several times. This will force players to play a better single player match to unlock and gain new stuff.
The game has surprisingly good presentation. The menu systems are clear and easy to read, and FMVs are smooth and comical. Also, the game does display some healthy looking graphics. Everything from character models, environments, and animations all look good on the wide PSP screen. My only real complaint is the non interactive objects spread through each stage. These park benches and fire hydrants are placed within every stage, but do not do anything. In fact, the player can walk right through them. This makes you wonder why they were put in the game in the first place. Yes, it can spruce up a bland environment, but having them completely transparent to the gameplay is very misleading.
The music also takes a slightly different route than your standard game. Just about every musical track has been licensed from professional heavy metal bands such as Slipknot, Ill Nino, and Fear Factory. While I wouldn?t normally listen to these bands in my leisure, I can understand why the developers put these musical tunes in the game. The harder music does fit the faster paced violent gameplay, but it can grow to be a bit much after time with its obscene screaming and insane riffs. The game?s soundtrack can be customized within the options menu, however. As an added bonus, Infected includes full music videos from a few of the bands.
The coolest part of Infected is utilizing its online (Infrastructure) mode. Before you jump into playing the main game, the player must create an avatar, or skin, of your playable character. After you design the way you look, the game will assign you with a virus. This virus is then put to good use when playing online.
Online matches are One Vs One. It is a bit disappointing that more players couldn?t play online at the same time, but I can see why the designers left it this restricting. The game will automatically pair you up with another Infected player and throw you into a matchmaking game. The goal is to kill your opponent more than he kills you within a set amount of time. If you win, you then infect your opponent with your virus, and he takes on your appearance that you customized. The only way to eliminate this virus and return to normal is to win three online matches. However, by winning, you spread your newly acquired virus to other players, and they spread it to other players, and the cycle keeps going. The whole process is actually quite genius and unique.
Now this whole form of infecting other players would suffer if the presentation wasn?t there. Luckily, the developers included a super cool way of keeping track of your stats. Not only does the game keep track of how many kills and deaths you had, it also will record the worldwide path that your virus has taken. When creating your avatar, the game also asks for your location. For example, I can?t get over the fact that my virus started in Chicago, but quickly spread to other big cities like New York. Tracking your virus in real time is pretty sweet. As long as you update your PSP?s firmware to the latest version (web browsing support), you can keep track of your virus and stats online. You can also see the Top 10 Best and Worst players in your city. Very, very cool. And I thought it was noteworthy that the main character from BloodRayne, another Majesco produced game, was one of the avatars that I fought online.
The game also features numerous players via Ad-Hoc mode if Infrastructure mode is not an option. More Vs mode options are only available this way, like Mad Cow, but both modes have their positives and negatives.
Infected is a game that was specifically made for the PSP. It is not a port from some console game. Because of this fact, the developers knew that they needed to make an entertaining game that can be played for a few minutes instead of a few hours at time to support the handheld motif. This is why each single player level will usually take no more than two minutes to complete. Load times are also significantly low but the graphics still look great. Unfortunately, the music can become annoying and the gameplay can grow repetitive within time as it is nothing more than a ?blast the crap out of everything? shooter. But because the developers took the extra time to develop an excellent online mode, this is a game that should be played by all PSP players. And where else can you blow up zombies with a viral chainsaw dressed in a Santa suit?