The Playstation Portable is a handheld device, but for some reason many developers treat it like a home console. They make beautiful games that either have loading times measured in minuets, or craft superb experiences that feel out of place on-the-go. Thankfully, Planet Moon Studios knows that the PSP is meant to go beyond the couch, and from the first mission it’s readily apparent that Infected was crafted for on-the-go gaming.
Planet Moon Studios is responsible for one of the funniest games I’ve ever played, Giants: Citizen Kabuto. Heck, even the overcooked Armed and Dangerous was packed with gut busting weapons like the “shark gun.” Yet Infected is almost the opposite of funny. This might have something to do with the heavy metal punk rock that started screaming obscenities at me before I’d even finished naming my save file.
Maybe it’s the season we’re currently in, but for some reason a zombie Santa Claus just doesn’t get my chuckle wagon moving. Seeing hapless New Yorkers fleeing a Christmas tree lighting ceremony? That’s funny. A radio transmission that quickly becomes a riff on South Park’s Timmy killing tradition? Not funny. For me the bar on zombie comedy was set by “Shaun of the Dead,” and Infected doesn’t even seem to be trying to limbo under it.
Not being funny however, shouldn’t be seen a crime against gaming. Videogames have been trying, and failing to a great extent, to be funny for years now. What really matters is how Infected plays, and sadly this is where the game becomes funny for all the wrong reasons. It’s that kind of laughter that comes when you’re so sad it hurts all your bones, even the funny ones.
In Infected's of New York City, zombies are walking biological time bombs set to explode unless they’re dispatched. Thankfully, these terrors have one weakness: your blood. It turns out that even just a small shot of it causes zombies to blow up like that guy in Big Trouble in Little China. First though you must weaken zombies with a standard projectile, ie bullets.
On paper, fighting zombies sounds exciting, and certainly more entertaining than dispatching those lug-heads in Resident Evil games of old. However, it really just boils down to running forward mashing on the X button and then tapping the square button. The dual weapon gameplay comes across like the drunken offspring of Metroid Prime and Grand Theft Auto.
What hurt even more than my brain upon traversing a few boring missions were my fingers. Infected’s extensive use of the right shoulder button and analog nub together forms a chiropractors best friend. I’m really starting to wish that Sony had put a real analog stick in place of the d-pad. Thankfully all of the missions are less than four minuets long. This is great both from an on-the-go handheld gamer and a “god make it stop” point of view.