PSP Review: Infected

A sadly rare original PSP title, Infected sucks players in with a wild action concept. In a few levels, it falls apart. Then it sucks players back in with an innovative online feature, and then that falls apart. That's the flow of Infected, and it's not possible to recommend it, even though the deranged sense of humor gives players something to work for.

The story is set up only to give a purpose to the action. An infection is spreading throughout New York, and you're the only one that can stop it since your blood is immune. Taking down those unfortunate enough to become a member of the infectious breed relies on nothing more than shooting… a lot. That's about all you'll do, and the freshness of the style wears thin quickly.

To make things slightly interesting, all the shotgun blasts to the head won't kill anything. You'll also need to spray them with your own blood via a variety of gadgets unlocked through completing missions. Even still, that doesn't help the repetitiveness, and to unlock decent weapons or stat boosts, you'll need to earn the best medals in each stage. These are overly hard to earn late in the game, and you'll be replaying most stages a few times over.

Multi-player doesn't change much, whether local ad hoc or infrastructure. The latter has a brilliant concept. By winning death match struggles, the winner "infects" the other players system, and the loser will need to clear single player missions (against the winners avatar) to remove it. If they fail, they'll spread the infection to others. Unfortunately, online players are aggravating and cheap, dropping out of losing games with a few seconds on the clock. There's no penalty for doing so, and no wins/losses assigned.

The control system is fair for a 3rd person action game with only a single analog stick. Since no enemies fly, there's no need to look vertically. The horizontal targeting system is adequate, though it will have problems attaching itself to what you're looking at. Blasting away multiple enemies leads to combos, which are spectacular to watch and add to the players score. It's simple to do, though maybe too much so. It takes the thrill of doing this repeatedly away from the person performing them.

The only things going for Infected are the cinemas. These wildly over-the-top pieces are sure to draw ire from a more sensitive section of the gaming (and non-gaming) community while providing a smile to those expecting it. Horror fans will also appreciate the vulgar, gory, and darkly amusing pieces. It gives the game a little momentum heading into the frustrating escort, timed, and "kill everything" missions.

While it had some hype, Infected didn't deserve it. At full price, it's a rip-off, a full game masquerading as a budget title. It's likely to find a small, dedicated audience who will appreciate the online play (and use it properly without cheating), and they'll be the only ones left in a few weeks.

(** out of *****)

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