Title Infestation (Second Review) Company Psygnosis, 1990 Game Type 3D Action Players 1 HD Installable Yes, with WHDLoad Patch Compatibility OCS, ECS, All With WHDLoad Patch Submission Adrian Simpson Profiled Reviewer Review Death is inevitable, but in Infestation its inevitability hits the player swiftly and in many ways. The end comes from asphyxiation, starvation, overheating, freezing, radiation poisoning, an attack by robots, tripping on a wire, the base core reaching critical mass, a fall from a great height, egg secretion contamination, being crushed by a closing door, general head injuries, being poisoned by vicious moon marauders, electrocution, cyanide gas poisoning, a collision with one's own drop ship and a head explosion caused by rapid depressurisation. When initially deposited on the surface of a planet the player is unhelpfully thrown into the middle of an affray with bugs and killer robots. Apart from affording little chance to get acquainted with the controls it also gives the wrong impression about the rest of the game. Rather than being an alien blast-'em-up Infestation is instead a slow-paced game of exploration, puzzle solving and making the best use of available resources. The surface is unlike the rest of the game, which is set underground. Above ground you can move around freely and also fly but there isn't a great deal to see. However, the stars, the changing colour of the sky and the arcing moon do provide an atmospheric beginning. It should be noted there is no oxygen on the planet's surface and that the player is wearing a spacesuit with the ever-present sound of breathing. The suit's helmet restricts the field of vision but can be removed to give a wider, but short-lived and oxygen-free, surface view. Getting down below is the first task and involves a quick trip to a terminal where a password will activate the transporter. Shortly after this you should gain access to the complex. The infestation is now revealed. Foul alien eggs have been laid on each of the floors and it's the player's task to destroy them all. They can only be removed using cyanide gas. The consequence of this indirect method is that the gas must be used sparingly and collected throughout the levels to top up the supply. The major benefit is that one release of gas can wipe out eggs en masse. Inside the complex there's artificial atmosphere so the suit's helmet can be removed freeing the player from the confined view. Watch out, though, as some rooms have no oxygen and cyanide gas released into the air will kill the player as readily as it destroys eggs! The suit offers additional benefits including a range of useful HUD functions. One monitors vital signs and another shows atmospheric conditions. There is even a window for taking notes should the player lack a pen and piece of paper. One of the first tasks is to take the central lift to one of the six levels and enter the main control room. Getting into this room requires completing a logical puzzle on a console. Once inside another console disturbingly indicates that the core is rapidly overheating due to the coolant system being turned off. To avoid a short game it's a good idea to locate it and turn it back on again. It's not initially clear where this can be done so some exploration is required to find out. In addition to the puzzle and status consoles already mentioned the control room screen splendidly displays a playable version of Asteroids. Another follows the traditional manner of conveying the storyline by relaying a crew log of events before the player's arrival. The most useful console is the blueprint display which shows a map of the current floor. Expect to be accessing this often for it not only shows your current location within the labyrinth of corridors and snaking ventilation shafts but also highlights remaining eggs with flashing symbols. A portable blueprint would have been a welcome concession to the player but there is admittedly a HUD navigation computer to be found which shows a more detailed plan of the immediate area. At this point in the proceedings the player will probably realise that Infestation is a difficult game. The major problem arises in having to juggle all the rapidly decreasing or increasing vital systems. Even the aforementioned core temperature overheat will slow down and not stop when the coolant system is switched on. A game like Infestation requires exploration at the player's own pace instead of a race against time. The point may come when the player is better off restarting than continuing and dying. Beyond the difficulty the isolated base and ventilation tunnels suggest 3D PC games of a later generation (System Shock 1 or 2 for example) than that of the Amiga. Of course, there are somewhat similar Amiga games including the corridor based and letter C titled Corporation, Cybercon III and The Colony or even the expansive Mercenary series. Still, Infestation is relatively unique. As is befitting a Psygnosis game there is a neat little intro of the character flying over a planet which is followed by a Herman Serrano picture of a robotic insect in an organic world. Apart from concept of an insect infestation it doesn't really relate to the game but is still a great image. The 3D graphics employed throughout most of Infestation stand up well to other polygon games of the time and characters such as the Guardians are menacing in their look. Check out the object viewer from the main menu, which is something of a recurring feature of 3D games (e.g. Voyager and Interphase). Infestation, then, is quite a mixed bag of a game. It is set in a fantastic world with a planetary surface displaying an array of stars and an underground base with architectural variety in its bridges, rotating rooms, corridors, shuttle bays, tunnels, lifts and computer rooms. If only it gave the player a little more breathing space.