Title: Infestation: Survivor Stories
Release Date: December 27, 2012
Publisher (Developer): OP Productions (Hammerpoint Interactive)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Intense Violence
Open world, post apocalyptic times with only a morsel of supplies as you venture out to find more to survive is just the kind of setup most people would enjoy. Making your own story can be a blast in the right setting. Endless possibilities equates to endless fun for me. When the core of Infestation: Survivor Stories is hopelessly broken, those possibilities end up only providing nothing but endless frustrations.
Spending most our lives living in a griefer’s paradise
Getting started ends up being an exercise of patience. Everything is unfairly stacked against you. With a flashlight being the only weapon you start out with, exploring any town is almost impossible. Zombie hordes are overflowing each area to the point that Sam Fisher himself couldn’t sneak in without alerting a group of the undead.
Heading to safe zones where you can buy, sell, and store items might seem like a great idea. Getting help from fellow players and buying supplies in the shop might give the edge one would need in order to scavenge for more supplies and weapons. Approach one of these safe zones and you will most likely be greeted by a barrier of other players with the intent to shoot first then laugh as they pick through all of your loot dropped upon death. Other players in Infestation: Survivor Stories are more monstrous here than the rotting undead roaming around. Infestation: Griefer’s Paradise is more fitting of a title for this game.
Even when you die, you are punished with a minute countdown before you can exit to the main menu. Forced to sit around staring at what used to be your character can be defeating to one’s ego. There’s nothing like watching zombies eat your flesh or another player teabagging the camera while pilfering your backpack of hard earned loot to ruin your day. Switching between the hundred servers to find a safe haven from all this madness will only get you the same results.
My playtime with every spawn ended up being ten minutes of walking around until I got sniped from another player, killed by zombies clipping through the environment or booted from the server due to punkbuster issues. Trying to resolve the punkbuster issues with fixes listed in the official Infestation: Survivor Stories forums still didn’t alleviate the problems with the disconnects.
Money to burn
Deaths caused by people griefing to their heart’s content and server disconnects wouldn’t be as bad if the system wasn’t designed to milk the player’s wallet dry. Think of it like those token coin games in the arcades that have pushers in them. The whole design is based around paying for tokens to put into the pusher in hopes of getting enough tokens to fall over the edge, thus producing tickets redeemable for prizes. Infestation: Survivor Stories reminds me a lot of those machines with its maniacal micro-transaction system.
Buying Infestation: Survivor Stories is like buying tokens and the tickets are the gameplay. In order to get any meaningful experience, you’ll need to spend a lot of tokens to get anything. Five slots are available to create characters which you will use and reuse a lot due to the hour wait before you respawn after death. You can buy back in right away if you spend real money, though the cost will add up fast due to the cheap deaths that happen way too often.
There are other ways the system is stacked to take your money. Unlocking more character choices than the two you start with, or buying anything in the safe zone shops can be done with in-game cash earned from killing zombies. Be prepared to kill massive amounts of the undead since the prices are astronomically high. Dying every ten minutes coupled with the long waiting period to revive, Infestation: Survivor Stories all but forces your hand to part with your money in order to play in its world.
Money for nothing
What Hammerpoint Interactive promised, an open world survival game with endless ways to make your own fun, is exactly the opposite of what was delivered. Instead, Infestation: Survivor Stories became a money sink. By the time you get enough tickets to acquire that top shelf prize of a meaningful experience, you are left with an empty wallet and empty heart for what could have been.