Infiltrator, Atari 8-bit

Infiltrator is a classic helicopter action game designed and programmed by Chris Gray and published in 1986 by US Gold (in Europe) and Mindscape (everywhere else).

The aim is to fly a chopper (called the Gizmo DHX-3) to an enemy compound, then infiltrate the base on one of three separate missions. Each mission is split into two halves: a first-person flying game, then an isometric stealth/exploration game.

Infiltrator is not an easy game to master, though, as even powering-up and taking off in the helicopter has a number of steps that must be followed, before you even get anywhere near the enemy base. Many people trying out this game for the first time will undoubtedly give up before even taking off, but it’s worth persevering with.

I’m not going to explain how to play Infiltrator here, but anyone wishing to break the back of this interesting game should read the two-part player’s guide at atariteca.net.pe in order to understand what to do. The guide is in Spanish but if you use Google translate it will convert it into any language. I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did without it, so it worked for me.

Controlling the helicopter is simple enough, as long as you remember that you need to press (and hold) fire, and push forward, to get it moving along. If you don’t hold fire and press forward then you’ll just end up crashing into the ground. You also need to input the coordinates of the enemy base into the ADF (Automatic Direction Finder) so that the compass points toward it. It’s simple enough to do, as long as you know how to do it, and do it quickly enough (because fuel is limited and time is of the essence).

When you’re finally flying in the right direction you then need to avoid being shot down by hostile aircraft and the way to do that is to use your communication system to contact other aircraft and ask for their ID. If you do this as soon as you see another aircraft buzzing you you’ll receive their callsign and can respond accordingly. Of course it helps if you have a list of who’s friend or enemy…

When you eventually manage to land near the enemy compound you then have to explore the various buildings, search any appropriate furniture, collect any items that might help you on your mission, and avoid getting captured by enemy guards. You can do this by showing them your fake papers and hoping that they fall for it, or you can find an enemy outfit and change into it. If you do the latter then you can even search furniture in the presence of guards.

To complete a mission you have to find a specific room in the compound, take photos or do whatever the mission requires; return to your helicopter, then return to base. Which is easier said than done – especially as you only have a limited time in which to do it.

While Infiltrator is a tough, archaic and complicated game, it is well designed and also very satisfying to make progress in. It’ll appeal to anyone who likes a challenge and is smart enough to figure things out. Infiltrator is a real problem-solver’s game. It won’t appeal to lazy gamers who need their hand holding every step of the way.

More: Infiltrator on Wikipedia

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