Act of Aggression
I must say right off the top that I really enjoyed my first game of Act of Aggression, the highly anticipated, newly released RTS game by Eugen Systems. A friend and I were each playing one of the three main factions of the game in order to test how different they were from one another.
I played as the United States, who focuses on more traditional units that are found in real life, such as Humvees, Strykers, and the famous Abrams main battle tank. Meanwhile, my friend/enemy played as Chimera, a UN-backed force that has units which are less specialized than US ones, but are more well-balanced. Initially, we set up our bases just as one would in any old-school RTS, and began sending our collector units out to scavenge for resources. We found that we could also capture banks that were scattered across our large map, which were excellent for generating cash.
When we finally came into contact, our battles showed how different each of our faction’s units were soon enough; my US war machine packed a heavier punch overall, and focused on creating units that could counter what the enemy was intent on manufacturing. At a certain point toward the beginning of our match, my adversary took down one of my tanks and the tank crew jumped out unscathed. They were promptly captured by the Chimera forces and spirited back to their enemy base, where my friend told me he’d received a cash bonus for each of them. What could have turned into a moment of being slightly PO’d at my unit’s embarrassing capture and ultimate demise instead elicited a loud guffaw because of how innovative I found this never-before-seen POW capture system to be. I soon realized that this was one of several things that made Act of Aggression stand out from other RTS’s, especially more modern ones.
Another thing that separated Act of Aggression from the rest of the pack was that it harkened back to the glory days of base-building RTS games, which came to prominence back in the early 90s and lasted well into the mid-2000s. I’d grown to love the older-style RTS’s, where players had to build up a main base and carefully manage their resources early on in each game. This lent itself to developing your individual strategies in every single game, which could be completely different from game-to-game. When conflict finally did eventually break out, it was usually more epic in nature since by that time each faction/side had had more time to build up quite a sizable army.
These days, there seems to a shift toward less strategy and more emphasis on pumping out units faster and faster, in order to quickly overwhelm the enemy through hotkey button mashing. The game has changed in more than one way, and with the rise of the action-RPG and MOBA genres, it is indeed great to see a throwback to the golden era of RTS’s, where games could stretch on for hours instead of ending in a mere ten or fifteen minutes.
As previously mentioned, Act of Aggression features the heavy-hitting U.S. faction, the jack-of-all-trades Chimera, as well as a third faction released last in the beta, the Cartel, a shadowy group of terrorist-like mercenaries that excel in sneak attacks using cloaked units. Although each faction feature similar types of units, such as scout, tank, and artillery units, they are produced in different structures and each have unique strengths and weaknesses that must be taken into consideration if one is to maximize their effectiveness in battle.
The main resources, Aluminium, which is used for the requisition of units, Oil, the basic monetary resource, and Precious Metals, used for building special weapons and super-units, are fought over on expansive maps, many of which feature chokepoints. These larger maps are a welcome respite from the recent trend, especially in the PC gaming world, which tend to feature telephone phone booth-sized maps where players are forced to confront each other early on and mash hotkeys until a single victor quickly emerges.
There is a full-fledged single player campaign present in Act of Aggression, which spans over fifteen full missions, giving gamers the opportunity to play each of the different factions. Although this allows you to get familiar with each of the three vying powers, the real meat and gravy to be had here is in the game’s robust multiplayer. Although each of the maps is more or less symmetrical, each time that a game is started, the resource points are generated at different locations, giving each game a unique spin and heightening Act of Aggression’s overall replayability.
Then graphics in Act of Aggression are splendid, with highly detailed units and beautifully rendered, lived-in looking environments. Missiles slice through the air leaving smoky streaks in their wake, and explosions are bombastic and colorful. The score also enhances the martial, near-future setting, and sets the perfect mood for large-scale, epic combat. Those in the 4k gaming realm will behold even more enhanced resolution while zooming in, and those with similarly high-end PC gaming rigs will gape at the stunning visuals.
Act of Aggression isn’t everyone’s cup of tea in a time when patience isn’t praised and attention spans are measured in milliseconds. But for those of us who appreciate devising clever (and devious) strategies, epic large-scale battles, and meticulous base-building, will get a real rush out of this well-crafted game. Eugen Systems, well known for their Wargame series, continue to take chances and with Act of Aggression, are one step closer to reinvigorating and restoring the anemic RTS gaming genre.
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