the writings of a mind

Title: Infestation
Genre: arcade racing
Big Word: plagued
Strap: Bonjour. Cíest la review pour nouveau jeu de Ubi Soft. il s'appelle Infestation, et il est la buggy piloter jeu. Et est il un petit bit cul.

That is the result of an "E" grade in GCSE French. A Babelfish translation reveals that it reads: "Hello. It is the review for new play of Ubi Soft. It is called Infestation, and it is the buggy to control play. And is it a small bit bottom."

That seems fair enough.

Why French? Well, this is the latest release from those madmenandwomen at French distributors Ubi Soft - they responsible for such abnormalities as Rayman and Pit DroidsÖ But wait up a sec. Is that the name of Frontier I see on the box? They who designed the mighty Elite? Yes, indeed it is. Well, then it surely canít be all that French then can it?

Yes. Yes, yes, and yes again, it can. Hereís the pitch: You drive a buggy around 3D landscapes, with missions in mind such as destroying key alien bases and rescuing important scientists. Itís a 4-wheel, 3D, alien-shooting, blast! So a Playstation game then? Yes. Itís so close to the borderline of a straight arcade game that you can smell it on its shoes.

At first glance things look very impressive. The landscapes are huge and sprawling, with pleasant textures, and a photo-realistic skyline. It isnít until you start driving around that you realise that the skyline is photo-realistic because it is a photo, as are the mountains in the background. Very dodgy old photos, cut out by a five year old making a collage. Then the landscape begins to crack, showing itís edges, and revealing its weaknesses, causing things to oscillate from awfully pretty, to pretty awful.

Missions are really a lengthy inconvenience. It takes an age to read through the painfully slow instructions at the start of each level, so after a couple youíll be skipping past it and just reading the summary. And since the story is told entirely through the instructions, it all becomes meaningless shooty-bang-bangs after just a few stages. When you are finally playing the level, the mission becomes completely lost beneath the shooting antics, and the boasted non-linearity. This option to drive off the beaten path and into the surrounding wilderness may immediately seem oddly nice, but instead the freedom means you are never really sure if you are heading in the right direction. Normally you just drive around shooting stuff until you stumble upon the end of the level.

If you are after a no-frills, car driving, shoot-em-up, then this should satiate your need, but on a medium capable of such sophistication, it seems a little demeaning for your PC.

Margin Note:

If ever there was a case for the argument, "looks arenít everything", then here it is. Despite the glitches mentioned, Infestation can look incredibly pretty, but itís the dodgy handling, confusing missions, repetitive levels, and Playstation feel that let it all down. And despite how nice it looks in these grabs, they donít reveal the numerous blips and cracks the infest (sic) the game.

 A good enough arcade shooter, but are arcade shooters good enough?


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Ubi Soft
Developer: Frontier
Price: £30
Minimum System: P200, 32Mb RAM, 4Mb 3D card
Recommended: PII 300, 64Mb RAM, 8Mb 3D card
Multi-player: Internet/Lan
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