Look out! They’re coming right for us!
Whether it’s a Nazi Messerschmitt, a Tomahawk missile, some pesky aliens, or a fuzzy bunny rabbit, when it’s coming right for you, you have only one choice: Aim and shoot. This is the premise of the new and old game, Incoming, from Interplay. In fact, it’s the entire game.
"New and old?" you ask. Some of you will remember when you got that first generation 3D accelerator card a few years years back, it came packaged with a disk bearing the extremely familiar name of Incoming. Half game, half tech-demo… I’m not certain if it ever has ever been sold on the retail shelves until now. It was designed as a quick-fix, free game to show off some of the capabilities of the new 3D technology. Although it lacked any sort of compelling depth, it was fast and furious and actually pretty fun.
Years later, it has arrived on the Dreamcast with all its mighty 3D power. And how is it? Let me tell you, it’s exactly the same.
Aliens are invading the earth! Why? Hrmm, I don’t know. What do they look like? Well, I don’t know that either. What are they after? That’s a bit of a mystery. Where are they from? Err, probably another planet, I guess. How did they get here? In a spaceship, I’m pretty sure. Why are we fighting them? Well… you know… they’re aliens.
Ok, so there’s not much of a plot to Incoming. Actually, other than a couple scattered paragraphs of text, there’s absolutely no plot exposition at all in the entire game. All you do, from beginning to end, is shoot things using different vehicles. There are actually quite a few different vehicles, although it’s a lot easier to control some of them than others. The helicopters and tanks in particular have unintuitive controls that don’t seem to be based on real-world physics.
So… You blow up some aliens in a tank. Then you blow them up using an anti-aircraft turret. Then you blow up some more aliens in a helicopter. Then you fly an alien fighter craft and blow up some more aliens. Then you blow up some aliens in a jet. Then you use another turret. Then another helicopter. Then another tank. Despite all the different guns, Incoming gets repetitive fast.
Why do you fly an alien fighter? Well, they never actually tell you. What are the aliens called? Look, I just don’t know. How did you get an alien fighter in the first place? Will you stop asking me these questions!?!
However, even without a plot, it turns out that blowing things up is pretty fun. Incoming is simply chock full of rapid-fire, destructive mayhem. Hundreds and hundreds of aliens will fly at you like lambs to the slaughter. By the end of the six fairly long scenarios, you alone will have destroyed thousands of the incoming alien menace. Alien ship technology ain’t so hot, but their breeding program is top notch.
The problem is that you can only save at the end of each one of the six scenarios, each of which is broken up into a bunch of sub missions. Incoming is fun to pick up for 10 or 15 minutes and blast some stuff and beat a couple of the little missions. But then you can’t save except at the end of the whole scenario. To save your game you have to dedicate probably 45 minutes or more, which is just too long for a game with no depth. Imagine playing Asteroids for 45 minutes straight.
The graphics that accompany your 45 minute destructive rampage are solid, but uninspired. Actually, they’re pretty much the same as they were a few years ago. The framerate is fine, but the polygon count is pretty low, leading to a lot of blocky looking objects. The special effects like explosions and waves in the water are old-school and simplistic as well. While there’s nothing really wrong with the graphics, the Dreamcast can do a whole lot better.
There’s also an instant action arcade mode and boring split screen multiplayer. However, these are not the focus of the game, and rightly so. They add nothing much to the experience, and nothing much to this review.
The big problem is that graphics alone can’t impress us like they did in those early 3D days. Sure, we were wowed by the power of the new hardware back then, but a game like Incoming just doesn’t cut it anymore. With no depth to speak of and a bizarre total lack of plot exposition, Incoming is about as mediocre as a game gets. While the action is pretty fun for a little while, this one doesn’t merit more than a weekend rental. Trust me: At the end of the weekend, when Incoming becomes Outgoing, you won’t miss it.