Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 23, 2006
From Planet Moon Studios, the wacky and creative developers of the classic third-person shooter MDK (when the company was still called Shiny), we now have a release provocatively entitled Infected. Featuring nonstop shooting action in a race to rid the Big Apple of swarms of diseased mutants, this is new third-person shooter is a real throwback to earlier times. This promising offering is one of the first exclusive titles developed for the PSP, which up to this point has largely been the beneficiary of derivative material. But is Infected successful enough to attract contagiously other developers to focus on exclusive PSP releases?
The setting for the story of this carnage is Christmas in New York City. A rampant virus converts civilized people into crazed homicidal maniacs, with thousands killed or deformed as a result. You play the role of Officer Stevens, a rookie cop assigned to guard the city’s tree-lighting ceremony and one of the first victims of the epidemic. In an unusual design decision, you get to choose Officer Stevens’ first name and customize his appearance to create your own avatar. Amazingly, after realizing that Stevens is immune to its devastating effects, Doctor Schaeffer — the leading authority on the epidemic — discovers that Stevens’ blood can actually serve to destroy those already contaminated, and as a result concocts a weapon that shoots shells filled with Stevens’ blood to combat the affected hordes. So your life essence is literally the only hope to save the city!
The single-player campaign consists of well over 30 missions, organized by neighborhood. While not all that varied, aside from blasting everything to smithereens, these include defending law enforcement officers and protecting innocent bystanders or bringing them to safety. Within the confined environments it is especially hard to keep the vulnerable safe when there is no secure location to take them to. Each mission is extremely short, often lasting just a few minutes from beginning to end. Although generally a pretty linear experience without much replay value, the enticing promise of earning a gold medal and cash to buy health and weapons upgrades — through clearing areas quickly and efficiently — encourages you to keep trying missions over again to improve your outcomes.
All of the adversaries you face act and look like diseased zombies, but there are some differentiations. Part way through, you encounter giant creatures that shed their skins and throw their bowels at you, more terrifying than the average diseased foe. While at the beginning your enemies just throw oozing toxic substances you way, later on they master the art of war by using more sophisticated weaponry against you. These foes move incredibly quickly, never pause to ponder their predicament, and are absolutely relentless in their desire to kill you. They want to get not only to you but also to the few unaffected New Yorkers who lack your immunity and so can be quickly transformed into the opposing camp. If you move too slowly in managing the attacks of this semi-human blight, then you lose not only bonuses and pickups but also face more berserk foes whose speed and lethality rises dramatically.