acting skills are not quite up to scratch.
Once you progress further into the game the live action will be less frequent and the game play will become far more involved. There are three sides in Act of War the US Army, Task Force Talon and the Consortium, who are the bad guys. In the single player game, unlike quite a few others, you will never get to play the Consortium team. You can play as the Consortium in the multiplayer and skirmish modes though.
The US Army seems to pack the most firepower of all the three teams and they have a good spread of infantry, ground vehicles and air units. The one disadvantage of the US Army is the amount of building you will have to do to get an effective fighting force together. In fact it is similar to the equivalent side in C&C Generals. The Task Force has the most high tech weaponry of all the factions and it's probably the most mobile too. The disadvantage here is that the equipment is all very expensive. The Consortium can be related to the terrorists in C&C Generals, everything is cheap to build which means you can turn out large numbers of low tech units. All the sides seem to be reasonably versatile in their own right and all sides have clear advantages and disadvantages but the overall effect is a set of fairly evenly matched sides in combat.
Act of War plays in a very similar way to Command and Conquer Generals, there isn't really anything new to boast about but there are some nice additions which make the game plat slightly more realistic. One of the main differences is the number of different ways you can raise money to fund your military effort. The main source of income comes from oil. In certain areas of the playing area you will see highlighted spots where it is possible to build an oil derrick. In the skirmish mode you will usually find an oil derrick already constructed next to your base. Once you have an oil derrick you must build a refinery which will let you collect the oil and essentially turn it into hard cash. Unlike C&C Generals oil derricks only have a certain life time, at some point the oil will run out, at which point you will have to find other oil derrick sites or collect some cash in a number of different ways.
One way is to take prisoners of war. Rather than kill the enemy you are encouraged to capture them and lock them up in your prisons. Once you have hostages and prisoners of war the enemy will regularly pay you money. It's always better to capture than kill. Another way to earn cash is to simply steal it. As most of the conflicts take part in built up areas you can send your troops in to seize banks and treasuries. This aspect of collecting cash will always result in combat as you will have to venture out from your base to find the banks and treasuries and then defend them. Obviously the other teams will have the same idea so you can expect to see some action very quickly.
Again Act of War has taken a couple of pointers from C&C and built on them. Buildings can be filled with your infantry to great effect. Infantry on their own in the wide open areas of the city are extremely venerable to any sort of attack with the exception to other infantry. So filling buildings with infantry can really increase the effectiveness of your ground forces. If you fill your buildings full of infantry armed with anti tank missiles you will find anything that comes close doesn't really have a chance. It is also wise to put a few infantry in building armed with machine guns also, as the enemy can send their own troops into the same building to storm it. The result is a huge fire fight within the building and generally the team with the most anti personnel infantry will usually will this battle. There are also other ways to deal with enemy infantry within buildings. You can use your snipers to shoot anyone that appears in the windows. This is a good first line of attack to use, as it will reduce the number of enemy soldiers left for when you come to storm the building. There is also another way, you can simply pull in the heavy duty hardware and simply blast the building to pieces.
The single player mode is fairly weak on game play in the initial stages but the action will build. The story is also quite slow to start with but this will also build with the action as you begin to progress. The story does have a few weak points along the way and the story is left a bit open at the end. Unfortunately the single player mode is a bit short and could have done with being a little bit longer. This isn't such a problem though, as the multiplayer and skirmish modes will keep you going for ages to come.
Skirmish games will let you battle with up to seven different enemies whether you play against the computer on in the multiplayer version. The main difference between the single player game and the skirmish game is speed of the action. The single player mode is relatively relaxed compared with the race against time of the skirmish mode. You have to build like crazy in the initial stages and try to catch the enemy first before they come to you. Once you get pasted this stage the battles will not last long, at times you will wish you had a little more time to organise your troops mid battle, because a small pause or error in judgement can mean instant death. The easy and medium levels will be suitable for most people. The hard level is nothing less than brutal.
Act of War looks incredible, probably one of the best RTS games I have seen. I love the small details which go a long way to make the game look as convincing as possible. For example as most of the action takes place in urban setting there are cars parked all over the place. Drive a tank over a car it will crush it to smithereens and then blow up in a ball of fire. The explosions look to be very detailed, even when you decide to fire artillery at buildings they will start to crumble under each hit. If you hit a fire hydrant a huge jet of water will spay in the air.
Unfortunately the sound effects have obviously not has anywhere near as much attention paid to them as the rest of the game. Everything sounds very familiar and generic. I have had a couple of problems with the sound of the movie scenes when the sound and the picture get so far out of sync that the picture doesn't relate to the sound at all. This unfortunately wasn't a bit of dodgy lip sync, at time I think it has been up to five seconds out on occasions. I tried reinstalling the game to see if I had a bad install, but the results were the same. Maybe a patch will be released to fix this issue.
As a RTS package Act of War delivers in just about every area. With exception to the sound, everything is there. The game play is very well balanced in terms of managing resources and combat and the factions are well balanced also. Graphically Act of War has taken the RTS game one stage further than anyone has been before. The fact that you play out battles in the middle of cities such as London and Washington really adds another dimension to the game. Act of War is the only game I have played that has been able to knock the Command and Conquer series off its throne.
9 out of 10
Click Here to View Act of War: Direct Action Screenshots