Dev: Volition, Inc.
Publisher: THQ, Syfy Games
Platforms: Windows, PS3, 360
Genre: 3rd person shooter
Single player, Multiplayer
Physical: Hand-eye coordination is a must in any shooter, but auto-aim helps out a bit.
Emotional/Social: There is no competitive multiplayer, but a four-person cooperative match against waves of enemies. Social skills, teamwork, and leadership all have potential here. Beware! As with any multiplayer game, there is the possibility of hearing profanity, slurs, etc., from other players. There are only 2 achievements that cannot be earned solo through the campaign or through offline play of the Infestation mode, so multiplayer is not necessarily something that is a big part of the game.
Mental: Studies have shown that playing shooters will actually increase your ability to scan images quickly and that gamers tend to be able to “count” more objects at a glance than non-gamers. There is also an element of decision making as you must choose which four weapons you will take with you, as well as having very limited ammunition for each.
Logic: There is some light logic involved, like choosing the right tool to get through a wall or the right weapon to take down a particular baddie.
Math: An element of financial responsibility is apparent in your collection of salvage to use for upgrades to your abilities. You have to have enough to be able to improve.
Difficulty: Ranges from Casual to Insane.
Profanity: I could count how many swear words I’ve heard on one hand about five hours in, and they have been relatively tame. No f-bombs that I’ve noticed.
Violence: It is a shooting game, but there is little shooting of humans. Mostly you are shooting alien insects that will kill you if you don’t shoot first. The world is highly destructible, and when you do destroy it, you gain more salvage, but you also have an ability to repair the environment so you can still get up that ramp that you accidentally blew up. There is a lot of alien blood splatter. There is a scene of decapitation, which was not very explicit. Just a general motion. There is another later on, where you see a head on the floor, and it is mentioned in the dialogue later. There is a third “questionable” scene where an alien is devouring a human, but all you see are legs coming from his mouth, then he swallows. Finally, a fourth scene when an invisible alien is eating the upper portion of a person- this probably being the worst of the four, as far as explicit images goes.
Morality: The main character is more an engineer than mercenary, though he can hold his own with a weapon. In the beginning, he is hired for a lot of money to clear an ancient ruin without asking questions. He goes forward, but it turns out his employer is a man trying to destroy the outpost on Mars, where the game is set. His actions are what unleash the infestation of alien bugs, and it seems he’ll spend the game making up for that mistake. There is also a potential love interest that has gone missing since the infestation occurred.
Game review: There is an interesting GPS feature that will constantly show you the “right direction” to go so you don’t get turned around in the caves. This is a great help to those who are directionally-challenged, like myself. My favorite weapon early in the game is the magnet gun, which has made an appearance in many other games, I believe starting with Duke Nukem. You shoot one magnet at your enemy and another magnet at a wall and watch them fly. You can also use this to tear down walls or send enemies flying at each other. This is very helpful with the larger bosses and to send big baddies farther away from you to have more time to fight.
If you (or your kid) like shooters, and can handle some PG-13 level profanity and violence, give this game a look. I’d say it’s a step or two down from the intensity (R-ratedness) of Call of Duty, but still satisfying. Since the violence is against giant insects (mostly) and not (mostly) humans, and those humans are trying to destroy life on the planet, I put it down a rung from games where you kill actual people.