Incoming Forces Preview

We go hands-on with this soon-to-be-released arcade-style action game.

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The original Incoming, a sci-fi-themed arcade-style shooter, was developed in 1998 by British developer Rage Software, and it distinguished itself from other games with its then-cutting-edge graphics. Incoming pushed computers and graphics cards to their limits, but many ended up thinking of it as more of a technology demonstration than a game, because it was extremely simplistic. In the original game, you piloted different futuristic vehicles and carried out simple missions like shooting down enemies or moving to a specific waypoint. It all looked spectacular, but once you got past the graphics, there wasn't much to the actual game--generally, you would drive (or fly) to a specific point, shoot your enemies, and then move on to the next area.

The earthlings are preparing to attack.

Rage Software's follow-up game, Incoming Forces, will attempt to improve on the original both in terms of graphics and gameplay. The new game will have a more involved story, for instance. In the original game, you played as a human pilot who had to defend Earth against the fearsome alien invaders known as the Terauman. At the end of the game, you had managed to defend your home planet and obliterate the Terauman. In Incoming Forces, the fanatical human military is apparently unwilling to leave well enough alone. On a routine space flight, the flagship of a new race, the peaceful Kaiyodo aliens, is accosted by zealous human troops who accuse the Taiyodo of aiding the Terauman, and threaten to attack.

In Incoming Forces, you play as a Kaiyodo commando who must defend the Kaiyodo in five different environments: city, water, mountains, fields, and outer space. To do this, you'll start out in a lightly armored hovertank, but you'll be able to transfer into different vehicles, including heavier combat tanks and fighter jets. And like in the original Incoming, you'll also have some opportunity to issue orders to your computer-controlled squadmates. You'll start off armed with only light lasers--weak-looking, green fingers of light--but over the course of the game's 10 levels, you'll acquire new weapons researched at Kaiyodo weapon labs, like heavy lasers and missiles.

Incoming Forces' mission briefings will be...brief.

But like the original game, Incoming Forces will also incorporate as many fancy graphical effects as possible, including most of the new options in the latest version of DirectX. Incoming Forces will have per-pixel shading for its water effects, as well as vertex shading for large outdoor areas, and it will make considerable use of particle effects for its explosions and concussive weapons, like missiles. The game will also feature volumetric clouds and dynamic weather effects (including rainstorms).

As there have been plenty of high-profile, big-budget action games this year, the simple arcade-style gameplay of Incoming Forces might end up being a welcome change of pace for action game fans--as long as it's more than just a demonstration of fancy graphical effects. Incoming Forces will be available in stores later this month, so we should find out soon enough.

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