Just when the marines stationed on Scayra were growing restless, complaining about the lack of work, everything went wrong. A deadly virus broke out across the planet infecting all the alien inhabitants, the Scay'Ger. This unidentified virus began mutating the Scay'Ger, turning them into flesh-hungry monsters ready to feast on any human body they can their grubby little hands on. It's now up to those restless marines to infiltrate where ever the Scay'Ger may be and exterminate each and every one of them, and to ultimately identify and find a cure for this virus.
Incubation: Time is Running Out is a turn-based strategy game, unlike most PC strategy games which are real time. You'll lead your troop of marines throughout 30 mind blowing levels, killing any Scay'Ger resistance you may encounter. To do this, you'll need a good sized arsenal filled with powerful, effective weapons. Fortunately, there's over 12 weapons to buy and choose from and lots of special items to assist you in your battles. The game itself features a stunning 3D graphics and combat engine (especially with a 3D accelerator card) complete with a plethora of camera views, eerie music and sound effects that will have you unnerved and an excellent computer AI.
Do you have what it takes to eliminate the infected Scay'Ger mutants? Well, get in there soldier because time is running out!
Incubation is, as far as it concerns the story, part of Blue Byte's "Battle Isle" series, which devastates the planet Chromos in no less than three world wars before, and one after, the game's timeline. In short, the drulls and kais, the inhabitants of this beautiful world, have quite a problem in regards to technology, being very far advanced in some areas but caught at a much earlier stage in others. First there was Skynet Titan, the supercomputer that stirred up a whole planet and its moon during the first two installments of the series; then came Punt Vassius, the artificially-conserved mind of a long dead emperor, whose private army of extremely advanced robots almost took Chromos by storm, only to lose its general to some bold whippersnapper by the name of Lark Urelis and therefore rendered utterly useless in one fell swoop, due to the emperor's complete lack of direct control.
Once again the Chromosians fall prey to their fondness for ill-conceived technology. However, far away from Chromos on the lush, green world Scayra, whose colony Scay'Hallwa - named after the drullish capital of Chromos - thrives under the wing of an old acquaintance: General Lark Urelis, not young anymore and a lot less lank, who commands the local garrison force. That force now has an inconvenient problem - the energy barrier, which was supposed to separate the colony from the rest of the planet has failed, and the native fauna is mutating by introduced diseases, developing a considerable degree of bloodthirstiness which they are about to satisfy by devouring the colonists. So much for the links to the past; reminiscences are scarce from here on.
Incubation is a tactical game in three dimensions with a much smaller focus than its predecessors, featuring not vast armies on land, water, or in the air, but a small troop of living, irreplaceable and individually-geared soldiers who blaze a trail afoot, or with large jetpack-powered jumps, through the buildings, streets and sewers of a provincial town-sized colony. Such reorientation does, of course, afflict the gameplay: One's units are placed before a mission begins at several available start points. The trusted old system of move-first-then-shoot has been replaced by a set of actions that draws from a pool of movement points without any preset order lingering. As it is indeed sometimes better to shoot first and then run, this change is definitely a nice one. Additionally, enemies can be shot at between their moves if soldiers are set into a defensive stance - an absolutely necessary innovation in some of the very narrow alleys, which the player's troop comes across every now and then. If worst comes to worst, the environment consists of several floors connected by elevators, each one with its own retractable bridges, that, might connect or sever platforms littered with crates and barrels to be slid around as makeshift barricades blocking entrances for the ever-growing flood of enemies.
Those enemies are, as it's proper for mad ravaging beasts, not really organised but rather varied: Waist-high yapping dogs and spider-like acid casks run around with great speed; the Scay'Ger - originally sentient - jump from platform to platform and over walls while shooting at the player with ranged weaponry; slimy things similar to snails lie around and serve as acidic artillery that forces one to keep everyone in the troop moving; slow creatures with impenetrable front armour threaten the soldiers with large shears... There is quite a bit of variety and challenge in this game.
Thus, the player's formidable array of weapons and equipment will truly be a blessing when it comes to averting the impending massacre, through efficient application of mass destruction. The soldiers open fire with such illustrious arms as bayonet-capped assault rifles, machine guns and pistols, mines- and flamethrowers... high energy lasers, plasma cannons, backpack-based rocket launchers and chainsaws. Well, I did mention before that those Chromosians have a slightly strange relationship with technology.
Some of the available weapons serve a useful secondary function: stunning an enemy or even converting it to aid the player; allowing projectiles to hit several targets simultaneously; or rendering an area impassable. The flamethrower, for example, is at first sight a rather poor choice of weapon due to its short range and small store of ammunition. Its ability to block relatively wide passages within a single turn, however, renders it an extremely useful gadget, good to carry along with you. Likewise, the mine-thrower's second implementation equips the troop with self-moving mines which are so much better suited for suicide runs than your soldiers.
Final verdict: It is difficult enough to be a challenge, the atmosphere is nice and both the graphics and the sound are well done. An ability to watch the other platoons progress on the world map would have been nice, and fields of fire are a tad bit too generously calculated at the edges and those hit-effects could have done with some more effort.
Other than that: Really good - and one of the last games from Blue Byte to wear that label.
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Jagged Alliance, KKnD Xtreme, Jagged Alliance 2, Jurassic War, Imperium Galactica 2: Alliances, Imperium Galactica, Heroes of Might and Magic II (Deluxe Edition), Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games
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