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PC Review - 'Incoming Forces'

by Justin on Nov. 28, 2002 @ 9:20 a.m. PST

Incoming Forces is an action game that allows players to take command of an alien defense force to protect their worldly planets at all costs. Players will control one of 10 different crafts at anytime throughout the game including gun-ships, fighters, tanks and an array of others as they protect various alien worlds. Battle will take place on four uniquely molded planets, each with its own 3D modeled terrain, environmental features and world specific objects.

Genre: Action
Publisher: HIP Interactive
Developer: Rage Games
Release Date: 24-Sep-2002

Incoming Forces is the sequel to the older PC title, Incoming. While the first game was treated with a lot of respect, this title is more mediocre than anything. It does offer nearly twenty missions, so if you find yourself digging the game play, you'll probably be quite happy with this title - but there are certainly flaws abound. Read on.

You play as the rather laid-back, peaceful alien race, the Kaiyodans. Unfortunately, those idiotic apes we call humans have picked a fight with them, and that was a wrong fight to pick. I really do mean idiotic when I say it about the humans. Not only are they idiotics for fighting an alien race with superior technology - the AI is, unfortunately, very weak. And if these humans are just going to come barging in, trying to take over our land, well, you know what? We just can't let that happen.

When I said the humans were dumb, I meant it. Countless times I have stayed in one spot, just shooting a tank that doesn't bother to get rid of me, even though it's going to explode in a moment. The pilot of that thing doesn't seem to give a damn that he's going to be killed and our lovely Alien race is going to win this battle. We're going to win it by using hovercraft, tanks, turrets, and of course planes. Each controls differently, but they all share something: you aim the targeting reticle at an enemy, and when it turns red, you start shooting. You'll be doing this a lot, and it really becomes mindless and boring after a short period of time.

The interface isn't that bad, but it's somewhat cluttered. You view the action from a first person view inside a cockpit. A few light effects might dance across your windshield, but it's nothing too fancy. There's a large circle in the center of the screen in which arrows rotate around. These arrows often indicate where you need to go to complete your objective, or point towards enemies. There is also a radar that might also help you locate enemies. In the center of that large circle, there's the aiming reticle, which will turn red if pointed at an enemy or green if pointed at an ally. A meter on the right-hand side of the screen will provide acceleration info, while a gauge at the bottom of the screen represents ship damage. From time to time, an alien's head will pop up in the top left corner, and he will spurt some dialogue and a caption will print, cluttering the screen even more. Overall, it's not bad, but some elements, like the alien head, could have been removed.

Let's look at how the hovercraft controls. You control the acceleration and actual turning via the keyboard, but you can look around inside the vehicle using the mouse and aim at things. This seems like a good idea - having not to line yourself up with each target using the keyboard. Sometimes, this system works very well, in fact, and is quite nice. Other times, though, it's not so great. It's possible to become a bit disconcerted while driving, since the mouse does change your aim, but won't actually steer the vehicle. Sometimes you'll drive straight into something you really don't want to get into - like a line of enemy tanks - while you're trying to focus on taking out something else. There are also times when you can completely flip your hovercraft over, and then things get really weird. It tries to get itself upright, but ends up acting like a very drunken man stumbling around, and since you're often being shot at, you probably won't live much longer.

Okay, so those things usually don't happen; the control is okay most of the time. It's actually pretty refreshing to see them trying something where aiming is in more of the same vein as a first-person-shooter than vehicular games, where you often move the mouse to turn the weapon and the vehicle completely around. Yeah, it has it's problems, but at least it's fresh. I wish the game would stay fresh throughout the game, though.

The missions are nothing spectacular. We're treated to a lot of combat, and nothing else, really. If combat was actually fun and interesting, or perhaps you fought on battlefields with strategic elements, or the enemy AI was rather good, then things might be different. But we're treated to, as I said before, aiming until you see red, then clicking. Enemies keep on shooting at the one thing they have their mind set on, disregarding everything else, for the most part. This is all going on oftentimes in big, open, static fields. The game really lacks at being immersive or fun, unfortuntately.

While we're fighting, we're treated to Kaiyodans commanding us on what to do next. These guys don't talk in English. Instead, they talk in some kind of gibberish and grunts that doesn't even resemble a language, let alone anything understandable. Do these guys have to take a dump or something? The voices become annoying and distracting, as you still have to look at the top of the screen to read the subtitles and understand what they're trying to tell you. It's practically pointless.

The graphics in the game work, but they're nothing to drool over. Environments are often very plain and empty, aside from trees or whatnot scattered about. Other vehicles on the battlefield aren't so hot either, as they're often kind of blocky and bland. There's nothing artistically cool about them. Some of the cutscenes show off some rather nice looking infantry, I must say, but since everything is vehicular you never really see humans on the battlefield anyway. Special effects are not so special, either. Explosions aren't that wonderful, which is unfortunate since you'll be blowing up a lot of things. There's usually a firey burst, then a small blue shockwave and a few pieces thrown about. I'm down with that. But then there's nothing. There's no smoldering frame of ships. No fire feeding on the grassland. The parts that fly from the explosion are gone almost as soon as they land. It's like the ship wasn't even there; there's nothing to remind you of your victory, again adding to the whole feeling of repetition and mindlessness of the game.

Basically, I only recommend this title to diehard fans of the original, or folks who are really itching for some action. The controls are fresh, if flawed in some parts. Graphics and sound are nothing to get excited over, neither is there much of a story holding things together. But if you're into taking on tons of rather unintelligent enemies, go for it. Incoming Forces does not disappoint in that respect.

Score: 6.0/10

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