Space Invaders: Infinity Gene Review

   05/10/2010 at 08:25       Phil May       16 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, Playstation 3, Taito, Shoot 'em up, Granny pants

My own personal gaming odyssey didn’t begin with Space Invaders, but “The Invaders” as it was known in hushed circles was the game that convinced me that gaming would eventually consume me, wrap me in its addictive clutches and claim me as its own.

I petitioned long and hard for an Atari 2600 (the old “woody”) for Christmas and finally got one, and I can’t remember much else about that particular yuletide season other than being sat for 14 hours or more in front of a tiny old black and white Binatone telly, watching the endless onslaught of the alien menace as they swiftly overcame my bases and then my ship.

Hearing the trademark fizzy “swizz” of the Space Invaders firing sound, or the siren-like sound of the Saucer as it flits across the top of the screen still has the power to send chills down my spine, and if I ever see a ragged old Space Invaders cabinet hidden at the back of an arcade, I’ll always have a go and I’ll still probably be dead by about the third level.

Taito’s legacy lives on. Unsurprisingly, tons of reworkings of the classic Space Invaders format have appeared over the years but the most notable (Invaders Revenge and even Invaders ’91) were great games because they didn’t try to break the core gameplay by reinventing the whole thing.

Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is the latest title in the impressive Invaders catalogue, and if I’d somehow managed to crack time travel enough to be able to lug my Playstation 3 and HD telly back to 1979, to show it to my pimply faced 11 year old self, the poor scrawny little nerd would probably die on the spot after uttering something like “Should’ve sent a poet….so beautiful!” (am I the only one who has odd daydreams about lugging current generation kit back in time to their schoolboy/girl selves to show them what their gaming future will hold?)

Infinity Gene is Space Invaders after a weekend on speed and Red Bull. At times, it’s so fast and frenetic that your brain screams “Alright, ALRIGHT, white flag, white flag maaan!” but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most successful shoot ‘em up rejigs in recent years. It’s not the bullet hell of something like a Cave shooter, it’s not the slow sedate and slightly sleep-inducing original, it’s a mutant genetic anomaly that could cause Daddy Space Invaders Machine to take a good long hard look at Mummy Space Invaders Machine and ask her why she spends so much time hanging around with that Rez fellah.

I’d previously played the iPhone and Nintendo DS versions of Infinity Gene to death. Seeing the whole thing on a huge screen and being able to play with a proper controller is an absolute bonus and the game really comes alive on a large display.

As with classic Space Invaders, you’ll find yourself piloting a rather meagre ship tasked with defeating the nefarious aliens. In Infinity Gene though, you can call on various power-ups and even follow an RPG-esque upgrade path to turn your ship into a fighting force to be reckoned with. Just as well because the invaders in Infinity Gene race at you like possessed demons, their attack patterns are chaotic, varied and even though you’ll begin to think you’ve memorised them, the game always has more than a few tricks up its sleeve.

The PS3 version not only has better controls than the iPhone version (naturally – prodding away at a touch screen for firing is never going to be as great as using an actual physical button), the whole thing flows so smoothly and crisply that you’ll want to hug the developers for doing such a brilliant conversion job.

One of the best things about Infinity Gene is the art style. Keeping to the simplistic but effective graphical look and feel of the original Space Invaders, you can instantly identify with the game and the simple look and feel certainly helps when the screen gets fantastically busy. Aided by a pumping soundtrack and a mix of classic and new sound effects, Infinity Gene puts other genre reboots to shame, providing a superb mixture of classic Invaders shot through with a jolt of caffeine and amphetamines.

If you’re a fan of those slightly transcendental shooters like the aforementioned Rez or the upcoming Child of Eden, the chances are you’ve probably already grabbed this but if you’ve dismissed it purely on the basis that it’s “just Space Invaders, mucked about with a bit” or have taken one look at the graphics and gone back to your tedious 3D shooters, think again. Infinity Gene has buckets of longevity and is infinitely rewarding. If you don’t own it on any other system, grab the PSN version as it’s a superb version. The price is a bit steep but worth it if you’ve got a big telly capable of showing off the game at its best.

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