Infiltrator is a combination of first-person helicopter simulator and isometric third-person espionage action. You, as Johnny McGibbitts, ace pilot and neurosurgeon, were given a mission against the "Mad Leader". You have to fly in helicopter behind enemy lines and make a diversion there. You can fool the choppers into believing that you are a one of bad guys, and also you can show false documents to guards in enemy camp. If they aren't fooled then you can use spray of sleeping gas or even a grenade. There are many houses in the camp, which have many rooms containing useful items, but you won't be able to get them all because of the time limit for the operation.
I have a rule for myself that I will not review a game unless I have played at least 80-90 percent of the game. Sometimes my lack of skill prevents me from defeating that final boss but I won't let that deter me. Because of that some games are fun to review and some are work. When I first started Infiltrator and played for a few minutes I thought that this one was going to be work. I was wrong (mostly). Infiltrator has its problems, many of which are a result of the fact that this game was designed to run on a very slow machine (by today's standards) and getting it to run just right requires a little tweaking. If you can get by that, however, this game offers some lighthearted fun into a genre that has been dominated by intense and very involved gameplay. Infiltrator has neither of these. It is a somewhat silly, easy to learn simulation/action game that doesn't take itself very seriously.
You play the game as the all everything, multi-talented hero Johnny "Jimbo Baby" McGibbits. He is charged with completing three missions to defeat the Mad Leader and save humanity. Each mission involves flying a helicopter to the enemy camp and then infiltrating their encampment in order to achieve a certain covert operation objective as defined by the mission objectives that you have been given. There is no story, there is no character definition and there is very little dialogue. Infiltrator is quite simply a three mission campaign and that is it. Don't expect anything more and you won't be disappointed. Each mission can be divided into two parts, the helicopter simulation and the ground mission. I'll talk about each individually.
Helicopter Simulation: Flight simulations are typically highly involved endeavors with a steep learning curve. Being a very early game Infiltrator doesn't really have the technology behind it to be that sophisticated. You do have to learn a few controls and you do have enemy aircraft wanting to take you down but once you understand the rules of the game and the protocol to be used it is really quite simple to reach the destination safely. The key word here is learning because this whole game is about trial and error. It is built in that you will die many times as you collect the information you need to complete the mission successfully. If you make a point to learn a new piece of information each time you die you will soon be very successful at meeting the objective. Take some notes.
The air battles (if you can call them that) are pretty lame. If you are attacked it is by a jet fighter that is ten times faster than you and has better weapons. This game is not about fighting aerial battles. The point here is to get to your destination without having to fight. If you are attacked you have the option of shooting the plane down (the odds are against you) or to use your missile defense systems to ward off the attack until you get where you are going. The point, again, is that you don't have to fight. The object is to trick the enemy into thinking you are one of them. I'll leave that up to you to figure out.
The trickiest part of the simulation part of the mission is landing safely. It will take some practice. The game is unforgiving about trying to land without your gauge readings being just right. Of course, you must also land undetected by the enemy.
Ground Mission: This is the part of the game that kept me playing. The ground mission requires a little strategy as you have a time limit once you land to achieve the objective and get back to the chopper. Each enemy camp has five buildings that must be thoroughly searched to find the items that you need to succeed. You will be given five attempts to meet the deadline. You will die if you are caught by the enemy or if the timer runs out. When you die you start over again at the chopper right after landing. When you have exhausted all five attempts you have to start the mission over from the beginning. The only way to meet the time objective is to know in advance where you have to go and what you have to do. Therefore, the ground mission like the simulation is a process of trial and error. You will collect more information each attempt you make and finally you will have all the information you need to get where you need to go and in the right order in the allotted time.
To avoid detection you are given a set of false identification papers that you can show to any enemy that stops you. That works about 90 percent of the time. There are disguises you can find and wear to make the going easier. If you are detected an alarm will sound but you will still have the opportunity to escape and finish the mission. Unless you are wearing a disguise you will have a slim chance of finishing, however. Alternatively you can use gas spray and gas grenades to render the enemy unconscious so that you can escape. They will awake from the gas not having remembered the encounter. I got a chuckle out of the graphics and animation used in the ground scenes. The character animations are primitive but they serve the purpose I guess.
Infiltrator is not flashy. I am sure that it suffered from the fact that Airborne Ranger came out the following year and was a much deeper and involved game. Still, there is fun to be had if you get into this style of game. The flight simulation should not scare you off it is really not that bad once you know how to avoid conflict. The ground missions are the highlight of the game, however. I'll give this one a three and not regret having played it one bit.
You will have to slow this one down a lot to get it to play right. I ran it at between 500 and 750 cycles (your PC may vary). If it runs too fast the helicopter is difficult or impossible to control. Occasionally the game timer on the ground missions would speed up and run at twice its normal speed. Everything would run in super fast motion. I never figured out why this happens but going into a building would often (but not always) correct the problem. Run INF to start the game.
The manual has all the helicopter control information as well as some important tips on succeeding on the ground. There is a lot of superfluous information on the hero Johnny "Jimbo" McGibbits that you can skip over.
Per Mobygames Trivia ... If you played this game on the NES it is actually Infiltrator II that you played. Obviously that is the sequel to this game.
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