For those of us with fond RTS memories of C&C, Red Alert and Generals.
This is my public service announcement. Act of Aggression is pretty dope. Even tho it's not fully out yet (will be 2nd of Sep.) Check it out.
So, lets break it down: It's an RTS from the dudes who made Act of War and it's expansion. Now many may not know wtf Act of War was. Act of War was in the most reductive way possible a C&C:Generals clone/wannabe, came out a bit later and was prettier. That's not to say it was a bad game, it was a perfectly working average RTS and did plenty of things to set it apart from the likes of Generals with it's own twists on the formula. It was neat, but not exceptional. Sadly it had the misfortune of coming out when the old school RTS genre was on it's way out. Nobody gave a shit at that point, probably for good reason.
Ok so imagine C&C:Generals, it's kind of like that. Where Generals was a more down to earth more modern military contemporary to Red Alert series; Act of War (and this new game Act of Agression) are basically an even more down to earth and more modern military step down from C&C:Generals. However while I think Act of War didn't quite pull it off at the time. This new game totally does.
Disclaimer, the full game isn't out yet, it's gonna come out at the start of September as mentioned above, but I was bored with nothing to play and it's preorder included a playable skirmish/multiplayer mode already. There is no campaign to judge yet until it comes out. So I said what the heck and got it not expecting much. What I found totally rocks, imo. Anyways this is all from a prerelease version, and it's my first blush opinion after playing about a dozen skirmish matches versus increasingly harder AI, please keep in mind.
Why do I like it and think people who are into RTS games should be on the lookout for it come launch?
- In an age where good rts games are quiet rare, this is one of those, in the past year there have been a few attempts (eg: Grey Goo, Nightfall), but frankly I found those games wanting, in many various aspects, Act of Aggression is quality wise instantly recognizable as being on another level from those games when it comes to the basics.
- The ("C&C/Generals") formula that might have worked to make it forgettable ten years ago now makes it stand out, because for people who liked those types of games there is no buffet anymore, being a spiritual throwback totally works in it's favor.
- The most important part, despite being a throwback to that style of rts, it has enough of it's own elements that don't just feel like meaningless additions, they make it it's own thing, and those mechanics work.
- It has a dope beat soundtrack, now it's not RA2 levels of musical nirvana, but it's good, it's pumping, exactly the type of shit you want while playing an rts, nice aggressive stuff.
- It looks good, shit is detailed, shit is crisp, it runs smoothly, and it does what a good rts should do it makes most of it's elements/unit's discernible at a glance, the designs are distinct, none of that homogeneous looking shit (i'm looking at you Grey Goo and Nightfall).
- Unlike Act of War, Act of Aggression makes the modern military'ish (with some futuristic tech ofc) theme work, it doesn't feel awkward, it's just cool armed forces, duking it out, oh yeah, putting these two points together, seeing a missile barrage fly across the screen is pretty sick in this game.
- It has a very healthy amount of graphical settings, much more so then it's contemporaries, and as a PC gamer this warms my heart.
- It's sides are nicely asymmetrical, again like they should be in any RTS worth it's salt, what I mean is the factions are not just copies of each other with exact same unit equivalents, there are some standard cores, but plenty of differentiation.
Alright enough with that, a bit about the game itself. You got 3 factions, US Military, Chimera (EU/UN themed force), Cartel (private military, some Russian based gear, experimental stealth tech). They all got they con yards and their barracks and their dude with an assault rifle. With me so far? K. Did I mention Generals as a jumping off point, if you keep that in mind a lot of what is say is it's basically like that - but. You got your resources to collect: the basic is oil, gives you money essentially you need it for everything and in the later game stages can be made inexhaustible, aluminum required for a lot of remotely advanced shit, also needs to be transported and stockpiled, which means storage space and time, finally you got "rare earth minerals" only for later stages and you can't even mine it until researching late game tech, but essentially like aluminum. You can also get money by garrisoning infantry dudes in banks (yes infantry can garrison neutral buildings like in C&C), or by maintaining POW's. Oh yeah - POW's are sometimes left behind when you blow up an enemy vehicle or just shot his soldiers not so hard, they can't do anything except run back to base but only if there is no opposing faction armed forces next to them, so after a fight, you get your infantry to wrangle up some POW's who get sent to your base (provided you got a detention center with enough room) and they start generating cash for you (presumably your faction funds you for them) not too much obviously, slurping oil directly is faster but it's an extra income to consider and it's inexhaustible in theory. You got your tech tiers, cool toys unlock and current toys get better as you research more stuff, duh. There are tanks, infantry, transports, helicopters, airplanes, no boats. With that out of the way I like the differences in factions. US Military got their standard dude who shoots rifle, dude who shoots rocket at tanks, dude who shoots rocket at plane, they got their signature abrams tanks, etc. but they also get super early access to a medic helicopter that heals all infantry in an aoe and also acts as a transport (infantry in general are pretty slow), which is great early on for getting into those nice defensive positions on the map fast or capturing banks, and later on they get osprey the toughest transport heli, fast, with guns and flares, devastating but expensive B2 bombers that are stealthed, tough and wreck shit, and have the most OP airspace defense in the game in the guise of the Patriot system that will detect and shoot down stealthed aircraft at extreme ranges far beyond your fog of war. Chimera (UN'ish faction) for example actually don't have dudes that shoot rockets at shit airborne or ground bound, which is kind of important when you think about it, but they do have some expensive but kick ass anti material sniper rifle toting ghillie suit sporting assholes who will gladly one shot your humvees and easily deal with light armor too in groups; they also don't have is any sort of aerial transports early on so that sucks, what they do have is ability to double down on their resource speed collection and ability to arm and armor their resource "carts" making harassment much more dangerous with early units. Cartel are sorta like NOD, in that they have a lot of stealth tech, but they are kind of a private investment company vibe too, their ground troops are mercs, their early scout unit for example is a scout heli (other factions have ground bound starting scouts) that has a chick piloting it who will excitedly inform you "Sir we found oil!". Anyway there are lots of differences between factions, you can see for yourself if you want to by this point. Enough in my opinion to make it interesting.
It's kinda like Generals, but more modern military'ish. It's looks nice, runs nice, sounds nice. Has the rts features one would expect in this day and age. Good solid unit variety and faction distinction. If you were into this genre at all, I don't think you should miss it. It's not out just yet, will be early Sep. Hopefully the campaign will also be good when it comes out for reals. You can check out the steam page for screenshots, vids etc.
Whew. Man I haven't done one of these (what I think of it at first blush before release type of deals) since Deus Ex: Human revolution and HoMM6.