Infected

Infected

Planet Moon's trademark humor finally makes its way to the PSP, and it's a blast.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 12, 2005
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The PSP hasn't been hurting for good franchises. WipEout Pure and Ridge Racer are the best entries their respective series have ever gotten, but when it comes to truly original stuff, the PSP is definitely lacking.


Planet Moon Studios is nothing if not original. Their blend of humor and tight, focused gameplay that manages to feel different with each game is one of the developer's biggest strengths, and with Infected, they managed to channel the dark comedy and horror situations that made the recent Dawn of the Dead remake so fun.

Blasting endless waves of zombies is such a simple idea, but it's pulled off with a kind of flair that few games ever get to settle themselves into, and the result is a game that's completely unique and fits into a niche in the PSP library that I didn't even know it had. It's not perfect; the single-player campaign ends just as the scant three types of missions start to get tiring and even still the game starts to get a little long in the tooth, but the multiplayer helps bolster the experience in a way that no PSP game can.

You play a cop, built however you'd like with a couple of basic male and female skins and then some light tweaks to the clothing and hair. The options at the start aren't all that varied, but as you continue to march through the storyline missions, you'll unlock baseline charcters can have their hair, clothing and accessories tweaked for an impressive number of variations.

In all honesty, it's enough that your construction and first name submission gives a personal touch to becoming Officer Stevens, the only person in New York apparently immune to the infection turning everyone into brain-hungry zombies, but there was an effort to keep the different create-a-character options open -- even if you can't do hardcore tweaks to to actual weight or dimensions of the character.

By fashioning bullets filled with the antibodies from your blood, you're giving the ability to wade through the armies of the dead by blowing the crap out of them until they're weakened enough to shoot a bit of your blood-filled bullets into them, freeing them from their tortured existence with a huge, bloody splat. Normal zombies glow with a yellowish tint, but damaging them enough for the final splat shifts the glow to blood red, indicating it's time for some 'sposions.

The excessive gore isn't just there for fun (well, the blood that hits the PSP screen is); if you happen to catch nearby zombies in the blast radius, they'll instantly shift to this "red" state and you can blow them up instantly. If enough weakened zombies are near each other, connected by arcs of red energy, detonating one of them blows the others up for a nice combo bonus that gets you more points, more money or weapons upgrades.

The weapons come in five flavors, starting with your pistol. You then move up to a shotgun, submachine gun, rocket launcher and finally a massive explosive energy weapon that just sends everything flying. The only way to work your way up to these bigger weapons, though, is maintaining a streak of zombie kills that slowly builds a meter on the right side of the screen. Should you stop or have to travel to another area with more zombies, the meter slowly drops, and with it your firepower.

The game also allows just a bit of stategy, since leaving too many infected in one area with no humans to munch on will eventually cause them to go berserk, which makes all the infected shift into faster, more aggressive and much more powerful versions of themselves. The game really only has three types of enemies (pedestrians, tougher santa zombies and huge, hulking things that take a ton of firepower to splat and leave a skeleton you have to blow up), but they all behave slightly differently when they shift forms, with the normally less aggressive pedestrians becoming far more deadly jumpers.

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