Reviewed: September 29, 2002
Reviewed by: Mark Smith

Groove Games

Hip Interactive

Released: September 23, 2001
Genre: Action
Players: 8
ESRB: Teen


Minimum System Specs:

  • Pentium III-550/AMD Athlon 550
  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
  • 4X CD-ROM
  • 128Mb RAM
  • Keyboard/Mouse
  • DirectX 8.0 sound card
  • 16Mb AGP Video Card

    Recommended System Specs:

  • Pentium III-750/AMD Athlon 750
  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
  • 24X CD-ROM
  • 128Mb RAM
  • Keyboard/Mouse/FF Joystick
  • DirectX 8.0 sound card
  • 32Mb AGP Video Card

    Optimum System Specs:

  • Intel P4/AMD Athlon 1GHz(+)
  • Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
  • 36X CD-ROM
  • 256Mb RAM
  • Keyboard/Mouse/FF Joystick
  • DirectX 8.0 sound card
  • Surround Sound Speakers
  • GeForce 3 64Mb AGP Video

    Windows NT is NOT Supported

  • Back in 1998 Rage Games released a little sleeper hit called Incoming. This game arrived at a time when 3D accelerators were just coming of age. Incoming featured graphics like no other game at the time, and many dismissed the title as a mere "technology demo". For those who put in the time they would learn there was actually some challenging (albeit repetitive) gameplay. Incoming even made an appearance on the SEGA Dreamcast.

    It's been 4 years for us but it has been 20 years since the Humans successfully repelled the Terauman attack that threatened the future of Earth in the original game. However, the Human's joy in victory was overshadowed by the death and destruction that was its price. A mournful peace settled upon the Earth. Slowly, the Humans became worried that another attack may be imminent; that they were open to invasion by other races; that their peace would be short lived.

    So a decision was made that would secure Humanities position in the galaxy. All of the Earths resources were poured into the production of a vast armada to search for threats in neighboring systems and nullify them. Soon they found the home world of the Terauman and destroyed it without mercy. But the Human's paranoia was unappeased. Wherever they looked in the galaxy they saw enemies, and the witch-hunt went on.

    And so the Human fleet found its way to the home worlds of the Kaiyodo, your home. It is your mission to help stop the invasion and defeat the Human Forces. You will pilot a variety of craft in order to conquer the might of the Earth force. This fight is for your continued existence.

    This is the unique "hook" for Incoming Forces; the latest title from Rage Games. Unlike just about every other "alien invasion" game ever made, Incoming Forces has you playing the aliens defending your planet against the invading Human forces. Throughout the course of the game you will take control of a variety of aircraft, tanks, and turrets in ten levels spanning four unique and wondrous planets.

    Incoming Forces features:

    • Advanced physics engine allowing life-like motion, alien environments, and weather effects
    • 10 exciting levels spread across four exotic alien worlds
    • Massively destructive weapons including remote piloted missiles with nosecam view
    • Full Internet and LAN support for up to 8 players
    • Ultra high resolution support for up to 1600x1200 at 32-bit color
    • BONUS: Includes full copy of original Incoming game
    WARNING: The system specs on the retail box are wrong...very wrong! The specs listed to the left are taken from the README file that comes with the game and are much more realistic. Please use these when determining if your system is capable of running Incoming Forces and at what level.

    Gameplay is loosely based on the concepts from the original, but so much more has been added. You now have user-selectable waypoints allowing you freedom of choice to go to your next target or visit a repair bay or dock with a weapons depot to arm your craft with the latest in high-tech weaponry. During the missions you can target other assist craft and transfer to that cockpit to assume command. You might swoop down in your hovercraft and beam into the cockpit of a heavy assault tank for some ballistic weapon combat. Then beam back into the cockpit of a sleek fighter and defend your base against an attacking squad of human controlled mechs.

    This new level of complexity is a mixed blessing. While it definitely adds to the overall complexity of an otherwise simple game, the action is all-to-frequently broken up with short cinematics. And even with a greater number of combat craft there just wasn't enough variety or uniqueness to the controls or abilities. Regardless of what you were driving, it always seemed that you were inside a bubble turret. It may be a flying turret or a hover tank turret or a stationary turret, but it all played the same.

    Incoming Forces is a bit shallow on strategy, which is okay since this is more of an impulse-shooter. You are thrown into a sea of enemies and the only strategy required is to dodge incoming fire while taking out the enemies as quickly and efficiently as possible. On some rare missions you may have to prioritize certain targets such as bombers that must be destroyed before fighters.

    Your ultimate goal, beyond finishing all 10 levels, is to get a high score. The trick here is that you will usually need to finish a level without dying to do this. While you have unlimited continues and frequent mid-mission checkpoints, each time you die and restart your score resets.

    Control is flawless with the exception of the ground craft which can be a bit difficult to control using the keyboard. There is a slight lag in the response from the time you press a key to the time the tank moves and then it seems as if the keyboard buffer fills up and the tank continues to move after you release the key.

    You are free to use the keyboard, mouse, joystick, or any combination. There is even support for force feedback that adds an extra dimension to the experience. You can totally reconfigure the controls to suit your own tastes; although I found the default control scheme to be quite intuitive. The menu system to control your wingmen is simple yet powerful. With just a few keystrokes you can command your men to form on your wing or devastate ground or air targets.

    Missions span all sorts of strange and wondrous levels created with some of the most amazing graphics your 3D card can generate. Alien terrain looks like digital satellite photography, and wispy alien clouds float through the sky in varying thickness and at different altitudes. All sorts of unique structures populate the landscapes, and the various alien and human characters and craft are all modeled in exquisite detail. Once again, Rage is pushing the technology envelope, and those of you with sub-standard systems need not enlist in the alien militia. Check your system against the stats and consider an upgrade if you want to experience this game as it was intended.

    While the original Incoming was "You vs. the Universe", the sequel allows you to take control over wingmen to even the odds. There is nothing more exhilarating than swooping down on a convoy of enemy tanks or giant mechs with a small fleet of hovercraft and wiping them from the plant surface in a glorious display of particle effects and radiating shockwaves.

    Just like the original Incoming, Incoming Forces looks more like a tech demo than a game. This thing really cranks up the heat on your system and will have your CPU and video card pumping out amazing detailed graphics in spectacular detail and rich with color, and loads of special effects like particle and real-time colored lighting. This game is a total visual overload and could easily dull your senses for all other games you play after this.

    The menus are simple and easy to navigate and the HUD can also be configured to show as much or as little information as you want. There are also several camera angles you can play from including cockpit and a variety of 3rd person cameras. One of my favorite views is when you get the guided missiles and fire them. You are put in a green monochrome view of the missile's nosecam and you can actually steer the missile to its target. It's disorienting at first, but once you get the hang of it you will be taking out targets miles away.

    My only complaint with the visuals is that the explosions look "so good" that you quickly become jaded after you've seen a few dozen. It's like going to a fireworks display where they keep shooting off the same rocket over and over. Sure, you will "Ooo" and "Ahh" a few times, but by the third mission you will simply yawn if you even notice them at all.

    The sound effects are just as good as the visuals. All of the speech is done in a strange alien tongue with subtitles, so you actually know what's going on during the mission briefs and updates. The various weapons all sound impressive and the explosions will rock any sound system with a decent subwoofer.

    There is full support for 3D audio so if you have the speakers and a surround sound card you are in for a real treat. You can even localize incoming targets by their position on your speakers.

    You can expect about 15-20 hours of challenging gameplay with Incoming Forces and that much again with the included prequel. I had played the original Incoming, both on the PC and the Dreamcast, yet I was strangely compelled to play it once again. Amazingly, it still holds up, both in gameplay and even graphically, although it does pale in the sheer number and quality of special effects in the sequel.

    Also new to this sequel is the implementation of a substantial multiplayer component. You can now host or join a variety of multiplayer deathmatch or team deathmatch games that are highly configurable. Choose from land or air vehicles and a selection of power-ups. Up to eight can play on a LAN or over the net using the GameSpy gaming service.

    If you further doubt the value of this title, you get both of these great games for only $19. You can apply your savings to the hardware upgrades you will probably want to invest in to make this title truly shine.

    Incoming Forces is one of those games that will stun your friends and show off your hot, new 3D video card. While the gameplay has been enhanced beyond the simple shooter premise of the original, it remains fun, challenging, and terribly addictive. The missions are broken up into bite-sized chunks that let you tackle this game at leisurely intervals or sit down for a marathon session and blast your way through the entire campaign.

    Incoming Forces is a great game at a great price, and if you have the hardware to handle it you won’t want to miss out on one of the best action-shooters of the year.