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Act of War: Direct Action Review

Act of War Box art
Developer:Eugen Systems
Genre:Real Time Strategy
Official Site:http://www.atari.com/actofwar/
Release Date:March 18, 2005
Reviewer:Simon Price (SieFly)
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I think it was PC Zone who described Act of War as "Command & Conquer goes to Hollywood", to say this got me interested would be a mild understatement, I am a confirmed Command & Conquer addict after all.


Act of War looks great, the buildings are nicely detailed, but your actual soldiers look very basic and tiny until you use the impressive zoom in feature to get very close where they are fine. The vehicles look good too when zoomed in, but pretty basic when zoomed out, as with most RTS games thing are a bit easier when you can see more of the battlefield, so I guess there's no way of avoiding your individual units looking so small. All the HUD's and control bars look fine too, they are laid out across the bottom of the screen as is customary and the many in game streaming videos that are used so effectively to tell the story appear down the side of your screen, again these look great. Act of War is an impressive looking game.

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I don't have a whole lot to say about the sound really, these type of games are not played for their impressive sound effects. It does a good enough job though and nothing sounds out of place. Some of the sounds, especially the unit acknowledgement sounds do get really repetitive, but that's an issue with just about every RTS game I've ever played, so I can't mark Act of War down for it.


Unfortunately I did get really rather bored of the games' first few single player missions. They are basically soldier only search and destroy missions, not much fun, I just couldn't wait to get base building, most RTS games these days seem to have a few these dull commando style missions and that's a pity in my opinion. Fortunately there are only a few and the base building begins soon enough. As is usual, you start with only a small subset of the games full arsenal and get introduced to new installations and weapons gradually throughout the game.

Resource collection is always a bone of contention with RTS fans, in Act of War you get the option of using oil installations to gain money and you can also occupy a bank with some of your troops, of course the number of banks is limited, your other option is to gain money from taking prisoners, these can be hard to come by which is a bit of a pain as the more standard resources do run out quite quickly. I'm not entirely sure the resource system works that well. But it is at least different and a bit more realistic than we are used to.

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The single player skirmish mode does offer you the chance to bypass all the soldier only missions and get straight down to the building and killing, that's what most RTS fans want right? In skirmish mode you get the option of playing US Army , Task Force Talon or the Consortium each with their own array of weaponry and buildings. These do include the usual number of tanks, planes, helicopters and the like along with a super weapon or two for each faction. Gameplay in skirmish mode, and indeed multiplayer will be instantly recognizable to most RTS fans. What I did miss though was the option to secure my base by using either fences or walls, so basically your base is out in the open and guarding on all sides is needed. The choice of static base defences is also quite limited.

Now one thing I did find very off putting was the control system, it's pretty standard left click a unit to select it, right click to move but you cannot cancel the action until you select another unit or building, basically your cross-hair stays as a move pointer after you've given the move order so you end up trying to click out of it which obviously moves your units again, not exactly what you want in the heat of battle. I'm not sure if its just me, but I did find this very annoying.

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I perhaps made the mistake of thinking this would be a Command and Conquer killer, while it certainly isn't that, it's a perfectly good game in it's own right.

The graphics are definitely good enough but didn't blow me away. However, the huge amount of movie footage helps greatly, though the acting is a little wooden on occasion. The story line is also impressive and believable, at times frighteningly so. Eugen clearly payed a lot of attention to the story, while they do deserve a lot of credit for this, it is perhaps why I found some of the early missions in particular a bit dull.

The addition of a skirmish mode is always a big plus in an RTS game, it's almost a must if you wish to cultivate a multiplayer community. Act of War will almost certainly do just that.

Act of War is a good all round RTS game but it does lack that certain something that I cannot really place, I did lose a little interest very early on in the single player campaign which may explain my slight apathy. It does however offer enough to keep most avid RTS players happy for a while. Perhaps not as long as Generals did however.

Good stuff

  • Fancy Graphics (when zoomed)
  • Great Story Line
  • Lots of missions
  • Nice Building Structure
  • Good Multiplayer
  • Skirmish Mode

Not so good stuff

  • Can be hard to distinguish units
  • Slightly irritating controls
  • Low replay value

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