Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures: Infected

Infected Box Front
Image courtesy of GameFAQs.

Infected maybe the only zombie shooter set around Christmas time

Infected is one of the earliest titles on the PlayStation Portable. Developed by Planet Moon Studios back in the mid-2000s, Infected is a twisted and darkly humorous third-person shooter in the backdrop of a zombie-infested New York City around Christmas time. It is also one of the more creative games to be released for Sony’s ill-fated handheld, making use of online play in a creative manner.

Infected  was released right in the middle of the holiday 2005 season, where the release of the Xbox 360 was imminent and the handheld market was still dominated by the Nintendo DS. Needless to say, Infected was dead on arrival (pun completely intended) and it sold very little.

Image courtesy of Giant Bomb.

Looking at Infected today, gamers can see an experience something that should have been a cult hit. The image of a zombified charity Santa Claus is enough for anyone to give it a shot. If they do, they will play a fun, if not a little mindless, shooter that had a little more personality than most early PSP games.

Ho, ho….no. Image courtesy of Cheat Code Central.

Infected is the definition of a “popcorn game;” turn your brain off and have fun
A few weeks before Christmas and the Big Apple is hit with a zombie outbreak. Instead of families enjoying the magic of the holidays, they are being slaughtered and eaten by the flesh-eating horde. The game portrays this tragedy with a wicked grin and comes off less Walking Dead and more Dead Alive. Players take the role of Officer Stevens, whose blood can be used as an antidote against the monsters. The character is fully customizable with several ridiculous costumes, including Rayne from Bloodrayne and all nine members of Slipknot. Stevens is given the task to eliminate as many zombies as possible, in increasingly gory ways.

Infected PSP Pizza guy's campaign screen
If you want, you can make Stevens look like a total dweeb. Image courtesy of Moby Games.

The tongue-in-cheek treatment of the horrifying scenario is bookended with raunchy faux-newscasts and over-the-top cut scenes. Stevens’ wardrobe also adds to the zaniness of the game. Zombies are still scary, but have an overtly animated feel to them where laughing at them is more appropriate. Again, it is dark humor so it is not for everyone.

Gameplay in Infected is simple and has a barebones control set up tailor-made for the PSP’s awkward control set up. The two shoulder buttons are for firearms, and the single analog stick allows for basic aiming and movement. Quick-turnarounds are the norm in Infected and it keeps the gameplay fast-paced. It’s a blast to play and feels similar to a rail shooter, where bullets and blood are flying all over the place. The game has a list of missions for Officer Stevens to complete, but it mostly involves shooting, blowing up, destroying, etc. the living dead.

Well, this certainly is a strange Christmas. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb.

Infected’s most interesting feature is the use of online play. Players can engage in typical deathmatch modes and creative ones where one player vs an army of zombies. However, one unique social feature is the ability to jump into a player’s game and infect them. It’s entirely juvenile, but what did anyone expect from a game like this?

Image result for infected psp
Rayne in all her non-Uwe Boll glory! Image courtesy of Hardcore Gamer.

Infected also contains a varied soundtrack. Slipknot not only makes cameos in the game, but have more than a few songs. Metal bands Chimaria and Fear Factory fit in right next to techno/EDM songs done by Junkie XL and Pimp X. It very much screams mid-2000s, but it certainly fits Infected.

One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
There aren’t many games that take place during Christmas time, much less combining the zombie apocalypse. Infected fills in this oddly specific void. The senseless violence found in its facile gameplay will make many gamers grin and laugh at the December dismemberment.

Infected is not expensive to buy new or used. Any Vita owner looking to play something different this holiday season, Infected is worth checking out.


Leave a Reply