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Act of War: Direct Action

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Act of War: Direct Action (abbreviated as AOW:DA) is a real-time strategy game developed by Eugen Systems and published by Atari, Inc (Infogrames). The game was released in March 2005, and features a detailed story written by Dale Brown, a retired captain of the US Air Force and a bestselling author. An expansion pack called Act of War: High Treason was released on March 2006.

The game includes a combination of pre-rendered cut-scenes and over an hour of live action film. Live action was shot in Montreal, Canada during the summer of 2004. Pre-rendered cut-scenes were done using machinima technique, wherein one person plays while being recorded from different angles (with all interface elements hidden). The recorded video is then postprocessed and provided with sound effects and dialog.

Act of War features many new gameplay elements, including heavily wounded soldiers being immobilized and unable to engage in combat until they can be reached by medical help, the ability to take prisoners of war, buildings that are realistically destructible, and the ability to create barricades.

Act of War did not add many innovative concepts to the RTS genre, and its most prominent gameplay feature was balance. Unlike most RTS games in which some units are massed and are used almost exclusively over other units for an easy victory, Act of War required the player to use a variety of units which allowed for diverse strategies.

Plot

Act of War is set in what is only referred to as "a near future" where a crippling energy economy has forced gas prices in the U.S. to over $7 a gallon. The game begins by suddenly plunging the player from a video into a brief introductory mission. "Task Force Talon" or "TFT", an elite US military unit that is unknown to the public, conducts a raid somewhere on the border between Libya and Algeria, in order to abduct a most-wanted leader of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, General Imad Kazim. In this raid, it is shown that the unit makes use of very sophisticated methods and equipment. Using a Delta Force squad led by Sergeant Major Jefferson, TFT captures Kazim and destroys the base later with a B-2. Almost immediately afterward, one week before the "World Energy Forum" in London, an oil facility in Houston is destroyed by a terrorist bombing. Concerned with the possibility of an attack at the Energy Forum as well, the national security advisor, Robert Chamberlain, receives permission to activate Task Force Talon to guard the World Energy Forum. The plot thickens when a major terrorist operation occurs in San Francisco, which results in the US government ordering a full troop recall in order to fight off any further attacks. In the single-player, there is only one campaign to play through, which puts the player in the role of Army Major Jason Richter, commanding the forces of the US Military and Task Force Talon around the world and eventually in Washington D.C.

Factions

United States military

In Act of War, the forces of the United States are up against a shadowy foe whose agenda is unknown. Basically the United States is the conventional war machine with familiar units like the United States Marines, AH-64 Apaches, Delta Force, Humvees, M1 Abrams main battle tank and other real-life vehicles including the M109 Paladin and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. They also have massive airpower with the greatest variety of planes and helicopters as well as the most upgrades for specialized roles. For example, the F-15 can only attack other air units but it's the best anti-air unit in the game, the M270 MLRS can wipe out dozens of infantry in a single missile shot and the sniper is very effective against other infantry units.

One of their weaknesses may be that they are a bit bottled down by DEFCON procedures. The US starts at DEFCON 3 and must climb to levels 2 and then 1, at some considerable cost, to unlock successive tiers of its technology tree. DEFCON 2 costs $5000, and DEFCON 1 $4500, so altogether $9500 to research the technology tree.

Notable units for this side include the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the M1 Abrams main battle tank.

Task Force Talon

Best from all branches of the US Military, and are equipped with the most modern, high-tech equipment available, be it experimental, classified or even officially "non-existent." Similarly, they have access to all information from all agencies. The task force are the heroes of the game and the first line of defense against the unknown enemy that calls themselves the Consortium. They are led by Army Major Jason Richter, who follows his own orders and likes to go outside the chain of command.

Task Force Talon focuses more on versatility than the US military. For example, a recon buggy can be upgraded with rockets to make it a decent air counter as well as a scout unit, and whereas the US F-15 only can fire air to air missiles, the TFT F-35 Joint Strike Fighter can fire air to air missiles as well as provide very effective bombing raids. Its units vary from existing cutting-edge designs (RQ-4 Global Hawk) to variously futuristic (powered exoskeletons) and technobabbley (nanotech) ones.

As opposed to the US DEFCON levels, TFT has two separate upgrades which can be researched in any order, the DRONE tech, and the SHIELD tech. While the SHIELD upgrade initially gives defensive capabilities like healing and repairing, it eventually gives access to build the Mjolnir Super-Heavy Howitzer, Talon's tactical superweapon. And while the DRONE tech focuses more on increasing offensive capabilities, by giving access to a Spinner command center as well as airstrike capabilities, it eventually grants access to build the "Guardian Drone Ballistic Defense", a building which deploys anti-tactical/superweapon capabilities.

One weakness is that TALON's units and upgrades are very expensive. This means that losing too many units early in an online game could quickly decide the outcome of the battle.

Notable units for this side are the S.H.I.E.L.D. unit, an infantryman wearing a robotic exoskeleton suit equipped with a 20 mm Vulcan cannon and Javelin rockets, and the Spinner drone, a remote controlled robot tank that can change its weapons from an anti-tank gun to an anti-air missile launcher to a bomb drone launcher. In the expansion pack Act of War: High Treason, the Spinner has another variant called the Titan Missile Spinner which launches Titan "Tacit Rainbow" cruise missiles that can hit targets sitting on the other side of a map.

Consortium

The Consortium is a group of oil companies and terrorists bent on creating an oil monopoly. Not much else known about the Consortium nor if there are underlying motives other than wealth.

The Consortium operates in two modes, "Undercover" and "Revealed". In Undercover mode, the Consortium resorts to bribing mercenaries, terrorists and possibly even certain governments into doing their dirty work, relying more on massing "low-quality" units for a low price rather than having a few strong ones. Notable units are the standard AK-74 infantry unit and various weapon systems from Russia and other countries of the world. In revealed mode, the true extent of their power is revealed. Ironic as it may be, in "revealed" mode almost all units have "stealth" capabilities. When in revealed mode, the consortium gains access to building high tech experimental units like YF-23 Black Widow II stealth planes (an experimental rival to the F-22 US fighter in real life), Akula Stealth Tanks (cloaked tanks armed with twin railguns) and highly trained Optical-Camo soldiers (soldiers wearing active camouflage), both of which are the Consortium's signature units. The Consortium also gains access to powerful railgun technology in "Revealed" mode.

Their trademark weapon is their tactical weapon, the "Falling Star", a project originally started by the US government, in which a communications array forces satellites to fall upon a targeted area. It can be upgraded with ebola, causing more injuries to infantry units.

In the single player campaign, the Russian antagonist Zakarov has convinced the Russian 11th Armored Corps to join forces with the Consortium, and thus players will initially see T-80 Tanks and MiG 21 in the Consortium's armory as well as fighting for the regular Russian army.

Audio

The soundtrack was composed by Marc Canham and Jonathan Williams, and performed at Nimrod Studio Orchestra. It was released July 7, 2006.

Expansion

Act of War has an expansion pack called Act of War: High Treason, which features naval combat and mercenaries.

Gold Edition

The original game and expansion were later released as Act of War: Gold Edition, on March 23, 2006 in Europe and April 14, 2006 in Australian and New Zealand.

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