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PSP  header logo


For: PSP

We prove fairly resistant to the low-rent charms of Planet Moon's zombie shooter

Product: Infected (PSP) | Publisher: THQ | Format: PSP | Genre: Shooter | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Infected (PSP) PSP, thumbnail 1
Good ideas are infectious. The good idea behind Infected is that if you beat your opponents in multiplayer games, you'll infect their game with your own unique virus, which they may go on to transmit to other players. You can then use the game's infrastructure network mode to see the extent to which your virus has spread across the globe.

But good ideas are undermined by bad execution. The third-person combat that lies at the heart of Infected is poorly implemented and pretty simplistic. It's not quite enough to sustain your interest in that good idea.

The basic mechanics of the game are straightforward: a series of (super-brief) missions see you taking on the role of Police Officer Stevens, battling relentless hordes of infectious undead across the snow-swept streets of New York. To do so, you'll need to use your regular ballistic weapons to deplete their health, before following up with your viral weapon to eliminate them altogether in a satisfyingly explosive burst of blood.

Aiming is performed by a lock-on system. Completing each mission within certain constraints allows you to upgrade your weapons or player attributes (well, health and speed anyway).

It's a commendably simple premise, but the graphics are also pretty rudimentary, and the control scheme is far from perfect – particularly turning to face your opponents in the heat of battle. Consequently, the game isn't very much fun at first. That is until you discover the implications of infectiousness, at which point things do get a bit more entertaining.

The first, and most important implication of infectiousness is that any other undead in the vicinity of an exploding zombie will instantly lose all of their health, or, if they've already lost all of their health, explode. This enables you to string together potentially massive combos, as you spread your anti-zombie virus through their ranks.

The other implication of infectiousness in singleplayer is that, if you fail to take out your enemies, they can infect innocent civilians, adding tactical nuance to your anti-viral exertions.

It's in the multiplayer modes, though, that infectiousness really begins to throb with malevolent potential. Beating other players infects their PSP with your avatar, who will then appear as the zombies in their games. In order to cure themselves of your avatar, they must then beat three other players in multiplayer (spreading your virus in the process), or complete their three most difficult singleplayer missions.

It's a neat idea, but it's crucially undermined by the fact that the game isn't enough fun to want to infect anybody, even accounting for the visceral satisfaction of turning hundreds of zombies into clouds of virus vapour by chaining together combos. Apart from the infectiousness, the multiplayer modes are very basic, and it's just too apparent, from the problematic controls and basic graphics, that the game has been constrained by a low budget.

Although the game's creator has tried to turn this to its advantage by adopting a low-rent, Adam and Joe-style sense of humour, the jokes are too obvious and generally fall fairly flat, rendering the cut-scenes almost pointless.

Further window dressing, in the shape of a legion of licensed music tracks, also fails to inspire, and is undermined by the one-dimensionality of the playlist. It simply won't be to your taste if you're not into throbbing teenage rock (even if it is an appropriate soundtrack to the adolescent action on-screen).

So yeah, Infected just isn't infectious enough. It's a good idea let down by poor execution. The single-player campaign is unlikely to take you more than a few hours to complete, and the novelty of the multiplayer wears off quicker than it takes to make yourself a cup of Lemsip.
Reviewer photo
Dave McCarthy | 10 October 2006
Infected is more akin to a mild tummy bug than a potentially life-ending bout of Ebola. To be fair though, it's probably more entertaining than either.
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