Software Reviews

Incoming by Rage Software PLC

Reviewed by Laurence Fenn

This game was originally called Incoming:Lux Et Robur when it appeared on cover discs as a demo around May 1998, but since losing the extra wording, it has gained in the quality of the graphics. The requirements are a Pentium 133Mhz processor or better, 16Mb RAM, 4Mb or AGP 3D accelerator, DirectX v.5, CD-ROM, 50Mb hard disc space, Soundcard and Windows 95. On the box is a long list of 3D cards that the game supports, from 3Dfx Voodoo 1 & 2 to Matrox Mystique (which is what I have).

Installation comes from one of four icons that appear after the Autorun feature. The game comes with DirectX 5.2, but as I already had version 6.0 I did not need this. Apart from a link to the game, it adds a web link to, uninstall, a separate folder for web sites for 23 company sites of 3D cards, soundcards and chip makers (such as Intel), a troubleshooting folder where you can run different versions of the game, and a readme text file. This was one line with a copyright notice, which was not much help, but I presume the retail version would actually have some details here. As the game makes extensive use of 3D graphics and sound (supporting A3D and the surround effects available on the SB Live card) there are several relative options in the troubleshooting folder, namely running the game with 1.5Mb, 1Mb or 2Mb graphics, no sky, PVR, 2D sound only, no A3D support, no lens-flare and no mipmapping. You can also switch these items on or off from a menu within the game.

The game is set in the year 2008 when UFO sightings are increasing, and the aliens attack Earth's moonbase. You play through six different scenarios, starting in Africa, then the Arctic, the Ocean, Florida, the Moon and finally the Alien Homeworld. Within each of these are ten phases which must be completed, and you start with three lives, one of which you will lose if you fail a phase. You control a variety of vehicles, including tanks, helicopters, hovercraft and fighters as well as anti-aircraft turrets. With each mission, the aliens attack in a variety of craft, but usually in a formation. You can play in Arcade mode, where you choose from a few earth scenarios and blast all the aliens out of the sky. A high score table is included in this mode. The Campaign Tactics and Campaign Action modes play through the scenarios sequentially, but the latter does not include the strategy sub-phases. These play with a view from above, like Command and Conquer.

There are additional hidden phases throughout the game. When you get to the moon there is a mission where you must fly through a series of circular gates, whilst fighting alien attacks. The game uses a normal audio track from the CD for the music, and when I listened to the tracks, one of them was Old MacDonald Had A Farm. I couldn't see why this was included until I discovered the secret level set on a farm, where you man a turret gun and have to shoot the invading bouncing cows!

The graphics in the game are stunning, with great details and explosions. The smoke trails from your guided missiles are translucent, but the smoke from your turret guns appears as flat square blocks. The explosions show a scattering of broken pieces and lens-flare effects. After completion of a set of phases, you get a cut scene to take you to the next location, and as this uses the same graphics engine that is used during the game, they fit in perfectly. The end of scenario four in Florida Cape Canaveral has a launching of a Space Shuttle, which was very realistic.

In the Arcade mode, powerups are scattered in the game are as small diamonds, and these can give you smart bombs, extra lives, armour replenishment and power ups for your weapons. In all versions games can be saved and loaded, and there is also a network option for up to eight players.

The screen shows your score, waypoint marker (for when you need to rendezvous at a location) and your strength on the top of the screen. The strength indicator also shows your current craft. The view you play from is an in-cockpit view, although you can change this to a chase, nearest enemy, nearest friendly, current tracking or flypast view. In the middle is your gunsight with altitude bars at the edges of the screen. The radar is below your gunsight and shows enemy craft on the ground and in the air, as well as allied forces. You can shoot your own side if you are not careful. Finally in the bottom corners are icons for your primary and secondary weapons. These differ in the fact that your secondary weapon is more powerful, but takes long to recharge.

The controls were a little difficult to master. Each of the vehicles has different controls, so depending on whether you are driving a tank, or flying a helicopter you need different keys. I tried with a mouse but the movement was not accurate, and you still needed to use the keyboard. Even with a gamepad I found it hard to aim accurately. The other controllers only emulate the cursor keys and firing, so your need the keyboard for other controls like elevation.

I did have a small problem with the game as several times it re-booted my PC for no apparent reason. I tried several different options but they did not fixed it. You could be playing for a few minutes in one phase, or have been playing several phases when the screen goes blank and re-boots. As there was no information in the read me file, I tried the web site, which gave no help either, except for a patch for certain 3D cards. I can only presume that the version I was trying was not the final retail version (certainly evident from the readme file, or lack of it) and that there was still a minor bug in it.

Even with the sub-strategy levels, this game is more suited to the Arcade style gamer. You do not need to know the full storyline to enjoy the game, and certainly with the Arcade mode, you can start and blast the aliens. It's like a modern version of some older 80's games, like Defender and Missile Command. The graphics are much better, but the gameplay is similar, and can be repetitive.

Alternatives: Forsaken by Acclaim £40, Battlezone by Activision £40.