Act of Aggression Review: Hunker Down

October 6th, 2015 -

I grew up watching my brother and uncle play games like Command & Conquer and StarCraft, so naturally I started playing them myself. While I never really had the opportunity to play them online in their heyday, I did manage to participate in LAN parties when that was still a thing people did (I know some still do, but I don’t have the opportunities to do so). However, beyond Red Alert, I lost interest in Westwood’s series. Partially because I never really gave them the chance, and also (I imagine) because it was taken over by EA Los Angeles. While StarCraft 2‘s last(?) entry is not far off, it was hard to ignore a game that was promising to play like the RTS games of yore. After all, those are the games I loved in the genre, and things like EndWar just don’t do it for me.

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Eugen Systems is no stranger to making RTS games. While they haven’t made a game as critically loved as Westwood or Blizzard has, they’ve been in the game for over a decade creating the likes of Wargame, Act of War, and R.U.S.E. So it was pretty safe to say if they were shooting for a certain type of gameplay within the genre, they could probably pull it off.

That said, the game holds a familiarity I haven’t felt in quite a while playing an RTS. While the campaign is lackluster, the meat of any RTS game is to be found in the online/skirmishes (not unlike the thought process behind FPS games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield). Despite the campaign serving as a tutorial, it seems more natural to figure things out yourself in a skirmish – and you certainly won’t miss the cutscenes in doing so. You’ll be tasked with resource harvesting (there are four different types), building up your forces, and upgrading your buildings and skills with the goal of making your super power: a nuke. Of course, having this doesn’t mean you win – there are countermeasures and many paths to get to this point with each faction – but as is the case in things like Age of Empires, you typically build up your faction as much as you can to ensure ultimate destruction.

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The game does introduce some new elements to the genre, such as buildings. I don’t mean all the structures you or your enemies build, but the buildings scattered throughout the battlefield. Opposed to these buildings merely being a decoration to make the the battle less desolate, you can send troops into these building to serve as a type of bunker. If you can’t guess why this makes things interesting, then allow me to explain – as you’re advancing toward the enemy you come across a presumably safe town. You can more or less create a trap here to lure your opponent into, run through like it’s not there, or be ambushed. Of course, occupying a building has its downsides – soldiers can be lost easily from a greater number of enemies entering the premises, and the building itself can come toppling down with your forces stuck inside. In addition to regular buildings, there are also banks, which serve as a quick alternative method of gaining cash. As with any resource, it is limited to a certain amount, but controlling your enemy’s bank can create a huge advantage if used properly.

Act of Aggression is a fun romp in the RTS world, creating battles that focus on overall stategy in a match opposed to bum-rushing your opponent (of course that’s an option, but it seems utilized much less in this game). Despite it’s obtuse UI and seemingly worthless single-player campaign, people that are clamoring for an RTS from the 90s or early 00s will find solace in the multiplayer that the game offers, as well as the skirmishes. The biggest issue is the $45 price tag – while it’s a good game, it feels less polished than it should. I’d say it’s a buy at $30 or less for the content that’s here.

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RENT

Pros

  • RTS Nostalgia
  • Buildings
  • Exciting Battles

Cons

  • Weak Campaign
  • Bloated UI
  • Trial and Error Learning

Act of Aggression was developed by Eugen Systems and published by Focus Home Interactive. The game launched on PC September 2nd, 2015 $44.99. The game was provided to us for review. If you’d like to see more of Act of Aggression, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

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