Review by GearHed

"So much potential, it could make you cry"

A couple of years ago I saw this game in a magazine store in Lisbon. It only cost 3,000 escudos and it kinda intrigued me, so I figured ''Eh, what the hell.'' Well, here's what I think about it in a nutshell:

It's not very good.

In fact, it's pretty lousy. I can't actually believe that this game was intended to be a serious commercial venture, produced by a professional game studio. Well, it was, and as such it rates very little. It'd be a lot more impressive if it was a shareware game cobbled together by a couple of friends working 'til 3 A.M. on their project.

I'll be honest, it had potential. That's the sad thing; this could have been a really excellent game in its own right, but instead it leaves you thinking ''Well, they had a good idea, but that's about as far as they got.'' How, you ask? Let's take a look.

Overview: Enemy Infestation is a sort-of squad-based sort-of strategy game. Action takes place within a small selection of building complexes that represent a colony world. Interface is a point-and click system, with a control bar on the bottom of the screen with minimap, various information windows, command buttons, units, etc. The player controls single or multiple units (colonists and a small array of robots) around the complex, trying to accomplish the set of goals for that mission. Nothing particularly new.

Story: 4/10 Ludicrously unoriginal. A hideous race of alien locusts has completely devoured their home, and scatter their seeds to the solar winds. One of these things manages to defy all odds and land on a suitable world, which just happens to be the fledgling colony world of Redavi; mankind's new hope. It all goes to hell from there. It's been done a thousand times before, so low score for that.

Graphics: 8/10 The graphics are (IMO) actually quite lovely in this game. The playing field is pre-rendered and isometric in view, but they put a lot of thought and effort into it, and they came out nicely for the most part. The polar base has ice chasms, and a cool mining vehicle reminiscent of a Jawa sand crawler. Building interiors are nicely rendered with appropriate smoothness or bulkiness, depending on whether you're dealing with a mineral processor or a recreation room, and the space station has a wicked-looking fightercraft bristling with weapons which, sadly, is just part of the scenery. Characters are decently rendered with a wide range of motion, and aliens look sufficiently, well, ''alien.'' Character portraits are cool, too. They paid a lot of attention to visual detail, and much of it is rather imaginitive, so high points there.

Gameplay: 5/10 This was one of the main areas where it failed to live up to its potential. They tried to implement a wide variety of things your characters can do, and didn't get it quite right. One of the biggest dawbacks is that you're constantly clicking everywhere, and you're just as likely to accidentally command everyone to drop their weapons as get them to do what you want. One nice thing is the ability to program everyone's reaction. You can set all your troopers to attack an enemy on sight, tell your medics to run and hide at the first sight of trouble, or everyone to stand guard and only attack when directly threatened. You can also stack commands by using the shift key, giving a complex set of instructions and going off to worry about something else. Most of the time, they'll do as you say. Unfortunately, since so much of the tasks at hand require commands to be given to a specific colonist, and efforts are often coordinated between several groups in different locations in a level, there's an AWFUL lot of scrolling and clicking and people dying while you're busy with another group because they didn't follow your orders correctly. Basically, what could have been a brilliant system turned out to be micromanagement at it's ugliest. That shift-command is really the only thing that kept me from giving the lower score it deserves.

Characters are based on type; soldier, medic, mechanic, janitor, etc. They all have different names (even the aliens, oddly enough,) and portraits, but each character within a class has the exact same voice. They also have the same attributes and skills. Troopers are good for combat, technicians for locking doors and stuff... Most are useful, but some classes are so completely worthless that you might as well leave their corpse where you find it rather than dragging it to medbay, reviving them, and then having to put up with 'em.

Note: This game does support Internet play, but I've never used it.

Sound: 5/10 Enemy Infestation boasts a wide range of nifty clicks and zaps, alien roars and stomps, and gross squelching sounds as a queen pukes out another egg to add to your troubles. It boasts a halfway-decent soundtrack. It also boasts some of the worst voice acting ever heard. It's bad, and it can really ruin the game for you if you've got an ear for that sort of thing. The vocal part deserves a 2 (the narrator rates a ZERO,) and the rest deserves a 7, so overall it gets a 5 (it really should be a 4; the voice acting is really that bad.)

Cinematics: 2/10 I decided to rate them separately from the graphics. They suck. They look like a high school sophomore's visual arts project, only they're made by so-called professionals. As one, they'd be okay, but as the other, they're terrible. 'nuff said.

Overall This game can't be taken seriously. I am so amazed that someone actually looked at it and said ''Okay we're done! It's ready to hit the shelves!'' Again, it would have been better were it a shareware project, but instead it's something that people actually tried to distribute and sell in stores. But in spite of everything, I kinda like it. Yeah, it'd never make Game of the Year if it was the last program on earth, but it can be a fun challenge, as almost every mission has the deck stacked SOLIDLY against you, and I enjoy having to sneak my characters along corridors threaded with hideous tendrils, rescuing fallen comrades and trying like mad to get to the medbay before they're discovered. That's what keeps me from scoring it even lower. All in all, this'd be better for your kid brother, or someone who doesn't have much of a game library and just wants something to fool around with, because otherwise it's not worth getting. If you find it for a couple of bucks somewhere, go ahead and get it. You might be like me and actually like the damn thing... or not.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/13/03


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