Infestation (Psygnosis) Review | ST Format - Everygamegoing

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Infestation
By Psygnosis
Atari ST

 
Published in ST Format #11

Infestation

Computer games have been inextricably linked with films ever since software houses discovered the money that movie licences could make. Infestation doesn't draw its name from any popular film, but it's closely based upon the Aliens scenario. Set in space, it tells the haunting story of research station Alpha II which is studying possible life-forms on a nearby planet. After an alien intelligence penetrates Alpha II, strange eggs are discovered, computer systems fail and suddenly all transmissions from the planet cease. Typically, you're the only may who can save the planet, and possibly the universe from the threat of alien attack.

The game is played through a window showing your view of Alpha II as a series of 3D polygons. Surrounding the window is a set of icons and control keys. Your main objective is to search for alien eggs and destroy them. You can't achieve this by wandering in with guns ablazing, you have to cunningly trap them inside incubation areas and poison them with cyanide gas. When all the eggs have been obliterated, head for the centre of the complex where the power source is located. Power comes from the centre of the moon, and you'll need to work out how to set it to achieve critical mass and explode.

As you wander through the 3D labyrinth, you encouter various features such as lifts, shuttles, radiation areas and blast doors. Shuttles carry you from one place to another at high speeds and blast doors are air-tight doors which cannot be opened once shut. It's features such as these which keep the game entertaining and challenging.

Effects

When 3D visuals are done well they're still something to admire, and like all Psygnosis games, Infestation looks great. The main playing screen is constructed as a daunting control panel, with an irregular-shaped oval window providing your view of the planet. It's within this window you see all the 3D polygons making up the action. As you steer through the 3D universe, the graphics scroll very fast, but when there are lots of objects on screen at once this movement tends to become jerky. Colours in the game look grim to start with but liven up as the action proceeds.

Sound effects are unimpressive. There's no atmospheric music to accompany play, instead you have to make do with the occasional spot effect.

Verdict

This might sound like a straightforward arcade-style shoot-'em-up littered with aliens and eggs for you to search and destroy, but Infestation is really a combination of adventure and action.

In typical adventure style, you need to have an extra save game disk and a sheet of paper to map out where you're going so that you don't get lost. This means that the game takes some considerable time to get to grips with, but if you're prepared to invest effort in the challenge, you're going to find it rewarding.

Admittedly, it takes time, but tracking down eggs and negotiating ventilation tunnels, radiation areas and blast doors eventually becomes extremely engaging and at times exciting.

If you can tolerate the jerky screen movement and can afford to turn your full-time job into a part-time one, go for it. Otherwise, give the aliens a miss this time.

Mark Higham

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