The new naval combat in provides a fully-fledged modern naval RTS within Act of War. With over a dozen new units designed specifically for naval warfare – from Tarawa class carriers, Typhoon submarines and SH-60 Seahawk anti-sub helicopters, to Harrier attack aircraft and Zubr class amphibious assault hovercraft – this feature alone promises to make this expansion pack one of the most interesting new RTS offerings in 2006.
To support the naval combat feature, Eugen Systems have developed brand new real-time physics technology to simulate waves and the heave of the ships, ballistics code for ASROCs, Tomahawks, Harpoons and Typhoons and other maritime weaponry, and normal mapping and deep parallax water surfaces for the waves.
Instead of introducing a fourth faction, Eugen Systems have introduced a different kind of feature which promises to mix things up considerably during different phases of the game – mercenary units. The concept is simple: these are units for hire. Only one player at a time can hire each mercenary unit, and to hire a mercenary team you need to pay a hefty insurance policy. If the mercenaries are injured or even killed, you won't get a full refund of your insurance deposit at the end of the contract.
The nine mercenary units range from close assault troops with Benelli shotguns, to Roland SAM systems, SU-25 Froogfoot CAS aircraft, and even F-117 stealth bombers that can be called into any part of the map.
New Units and Upgrades
For extra variation in the basic game each of the three factions also receives 2-3 new units and as many new upgrades; in some cases they will cover previous holes in the tech tree, in others just reinforce the strength of each side or introduce a new use for existing units and upgrades. Examples are Stinger infantry and Kiowa recon helicopters for the U.S. Army, SCUD launchers and Hind AT-6 Spiral missiles for the Consortium, and GUOS mine upgrades and experimental BLU-144 bombs for the Joint Strike Fighters of the Task Force Talon.
Act of War is an example of the emerging "Action RTS" subgenre – light on resource management, more focused on unit construction and troop movement, and with the kind of amazing graphics and technology more usually seen in shooters. It also featured live action cinematics to support a storyline written in cooperation with New York Times bestselling techno-thriller author Dale Brown.
The fast "pick-up-and-play" game mechanics made Act of War very popular in the online multiplayer community, with over 10 million online games completed in less than six months. There are many user-created maps available to the community of at least as high quality as Eugen Systems's own creations; a tell-tale sign of a healthy and thriving audience of fans.
Innovation was found in game pace, game mechanics details and visuals, the possibility to play around with real weapons – such as Abrams tanks, A-10 Thunderbolt close air support aircraft, Apache attack helicopters and U.S. Marines – in real-world locations such as Washington D.C. or San Francisco under very authentic "rules of engagement", was something that appealed to many fans of modern combat, techno-thrillers and RTS games.
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