Act of War

A real-time strategy(RTS) game with modern day and futuristic weaponry. Take Task Force Talon around the world to engage a mysterious but well armed group known only as the Consortium. The Gold Edition comes complete with Act of War: Direct Action and the expansion pack Act of War: High Treason.

Release Date

Act of War: Direct Action – March 2005.
Act of War: High Treason – April 2006.

Pros

Excellent story line for the Direct Action single player campaign. Just like how Rainbow Six had Tom Clancy to work the story for it, Act of War: Direct Action had Dale Brown to do the story. And it shows! Dale Brown also released the book Act of War which unfortunately the story is not as good as the game! I would even go as far as saying Act of War has the best story of all the real-time strategy games I have played.

The story is very well presented through in-game cinematics, full screen CGI cinematics AND full motion video footage. As you complete different objectives, there are audio and video to drive the story.

The full motion videos are excellent. Better than Command & Conquer 1-3 and as good as Wing Commander IV and Under a Killing Moon in quality. It plays like an interactive movie. The acting might not be as good as C&C but the action sequences are definitely better.

Garrisoning of men in buildings is taken to a whole new level. Not only can you clear out a whole building with some units, but you can also get troops to enter the building and do battle inside, without damaging the building. Snipers can also snipe at the windows. You can also drop off troops on the roof for roof entry.

The graphics are excellent. It does not look as nice as C&C3 Tiberium Wars, but it is still excellent and the animations are very nice. The explosions look particularly good to me.

The sounds are excellent. Everything from the smallest rifle fire to the blast from the Abrams tank sounds very authentic. And of course you get good feedback from your troops as well.

There are three ways to get money. The first method is refining oil and therefore fighting over it. The second method is to have troops occupy a bank building to receive funds. But the third method is the most interesting: prisoners of war. Your troops can capture heavily wounded enemies which grants you money. Further more, if you have a prison camp, the POWs will continually generate money for you. You must decide whether to attempt to capture the enemy, or just kill them. This also means you have to make sure your own troops get rescued rather than get captured.

For the modern day weapon systems, this is the most realistic RTS I have ever played. Most of the vehicles and troops perform as expected. Snipers kill infantry in one shot. A Humvee(called Fat-vee in the game) with a machine gun can mow down troops but one direct hit from a rocket and it is doomed. Your troops can hide behind buildings or in bushes to ambush the enemy doing double damage. Be careful though, as vehicles can run over your troops quite easily too. There are a few exceptions to the realism though. An example is the Apache seems to have appalling weapons range. And the air strike pilots don’t know how to dodge SAMs.

The three sides are very different.

The super weapons are really super weapons!

Act of War: High Treason adds new units, upgrades and changes the behaviour of some units. You can even hire mercenaries to fight for your cause. It also comes with a new single-player campaign that has another brilliant storyline. Unfortunately there is no full motion video sequences to tell the story this time round.

High Treason is moddable. Check out this GOG forum post for mods and custom maps.

Cons

The campaign for Direct Action is too easy. I played it on the highest difficulty setting and it feels like playing normal difficulty on other RTS’s. The good thing is, the AI is more difficult when playing skirmishes.

The campaign for Direct Action focuses on Task Force Talon and the U.S. Army. You NEVER get to play the Consortium in the campaign and there is only one mission where you get to use some Consortium units.

The campaign for High Treason is too difficult. And there are only a handful of missions that involve base building with lots of resources. Most of the missions limit your resources or what you can build.

You can zoom up very close to view the action, but you cannot zoom out far enough to see a good view of the field.

The game does not run on PCs with Vista or Windows 7 that have more that 3GBs of RAM. Seriously take this into consideration if you would like to play Act of War on these systems. There are fixes for this problem though. Here is a summary. I have not tried out the GOG.com version of the game to check if this problem has been fixed.

Other Points

Direct Action does not support wide screen resolutions but High Treason does when patched up, or at least it supports wide screen up to my resolution of 1280*800. I cannot tell if it goes higher.

High Treason introduces naval warfare, but it is only playable in the campaign unless you get the Navy Invaders Mod. The mod gives a new way to play skirmish but I do not like it because it does not have base building.

Healing is different for the Consortium and the U.S. Army sides between the two games. In Direct Action, you had a helicopter or a medivac vehicle come pick up the wounded and go back to hospital. But in High Treason they are now healed on the spot and it takes time before the heal function can be used again. I am guessing this is to improve team balancing because that is how the third team Task Force Talon works.

Biases

Reviewed version 1.06-3 of Direct Action.

Reviewed version 1.1.7 of High Treason.

I really liked Dune 2, Command And Conquer, C&C Tiberian Sun, C&C3 Tiberium Wars, Rise of Nations and The Moon Project.

I also liked Empire Earth 2, Dark Reign, Warcraft 1 and 2, Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation.

I did not like Homeworld.

I have completed both the Direct Action and High Treason campaigns.

I have played a few multiplayer games.

DRM

A serial key must be entered during installation.

The disc must be in the drive to play the game.

Act of War: Gold Edition is available DRM-free from GOG.com

Patches

Install the patch before playing seriously as the save games of old versions are not compatible with the new version of the game.

Act of War: Direct Action Patch v1.06.

Act of War: High Treason Patch 1b. This patches the game up to version 1.1.7.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on box)

  • Operating System: Windows 2000/XP
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz or superior
  • Memory 256 MB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 7 GB free
  • DVD-ROM Drive: 4X Speed or faster
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card
  • DirectX: DirectX version 9.0c (included) or higher
  • Video: ATI RADEON 8500 or NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 video card or greater
  • (GeForce 4 MX or Intel Extreme Graphics Family are not supported)
  • Multiplayer: Internet (TCP/IP) and LAN (TCP/IP) play supported.

Computer Played On

  • Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • ATI Radeon X1600 256Mb RAM (laptop version)
  • Realtek HD Audio(no idea what model) with Altec Lansing ACS41 speakers or Logitech ClearChat Premium PC Headset.
  • Win XP Pro
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

To play custom maps, the map files must be placed in the
<HighTreasonInstallFolder>\AOW\CustomMaps
folder. If CustomMaps folder does not exist, you must create it manually.

Recommended Mods

ActOfWar.info mod. This mod adds new units to skirmish, allows you to zoom out a lot more and adds a few other things as well.

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