Despite being one of the most promising real-time strategy games in years, Act of Aggression has almost everything going against it. It’s in a genre that’s been barren for nearly a decade, it hasn’t been marketed worth a lick, it’s exclusive to PC, and it’s being released on September 2 alongside such juggernauts as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mad Max. Whatever you do, though, please don’t let those things deter you; because if you’re a fan of strategy games, you absolutely must check out Eugen Systems’ latest offering. Here are five reasons why.
1.) Its base building mechanics are among the best to date
No other real-time strategy game handles base building quite like Act of Aggression, which combines the best aspects of Command & Conquer and Starcraft. Although you select and place buildings via your HQ, which has its own UI button and therefore plays a similar role to Command & Conquer’s sidebar, there are also worker units that leave the HQ to construct buildings once they’ve been paid for, which is more akin to Starcraft–especially since those units can be destroyed along the way. The result is a system that’s simultaneously as intuitive as Command & Conquer’s and as complex as Starcraft’s.
Here’s a video in which I demonstrate the base building and discuss it in greater detail (note that the game’s zoom level has since been increased, which I’ll touch on later):
2.) Its soundtrack is deliciously oldschool
If you’ve ever played any of the classic Command & Conquer games, from the original all the way up to Red Alert 2, then you’ve probably fallen in love with their Frank Klepacki-composed soundtracks which featured a brilliant mixture of rock, techno, and even funk. Act of Aggression is no different in this regard. I’ve taken the liberty of uploading the entire soundtrack from the beta–18 tracks in all–to YouTube, that way you can hear it for yourself without first having to purchase the game.
Here’s the most popular track of them all, and for good reason:
I’m also quite fond of this one, which sounds like something from a blockbuster spy movie:
3.) Its developers listen to and interact with the community
Eugen is one of the last remaining “big” developers that actually stays in touch with the community and molds their games in response to fan feedback. Over on the official forums (as well as those on Steam), it isn’t uncommon for team members to drop by and respond to posts and even give updates on upcoming versions of the game. Perhaps the best example of Eugen taking feedback into consideration is their recent inclusion of a much greater zoom level in the beta–something that the community had been clamoring for since it began. Rather than sloppily implement the feature by merely pulling back the camera and calling it a day, Eugen actually went through the effort of rewriting the engine’s code to ensure that the new zoom level wouldn’t greatly impact performance while maintaining as much visual fidelity as possible. Now that’s how you deal with feedback!
4.) It’s rather cheap and has no DLC or microtransactions
At roughly $45 ($38 for those who pre-order), Act of Aggression is one of the cheapest brand new, non-indie titles you’re likely to come across. There’s also no DLC (at the time of this article) and there will never be any microtransactions. In short: When you purchase Act of Aggression, you’re getting the full game and experience. No cut corners, no stripped content, no B.S. And if DLC ever were to arrive at a later date, it may very well be free of charge much like that for Eugen’s popular Wargame franchise.
5.) It’s the spiritual successor to another excellent RTS game
Although it was never as successful as Command & Conquer: Generals, the game that inspired it, Eugen’s Act of War: Direct Action was nonetheless a fantastic game in its own right. Released in 2005, Act of War took many of the elements that made Generals so special and sprinkled on some of its own, including the ability to take prisoners of war, lay ambushes by hiding infantry in foliage, and even engage in close quarters combat inside buildings and houses. On top of that it even featured a campy, Tom Clancy-esque story that was written by Dale Brown and accompanied by numerous classic Command & Conquer-style FMVs.
While it may not be a full-fledged sequel to Act of War, Act of Aggression manages rekindle most of its magic. Prisoners of war are back, for instance, as is the close quarters combat system. The factions are similar, too. The U.S. makes a complete return, and while the Task Force Talon and Consortium are nowhere to be seen, the Chimera and Cartel bear more than a few similarities to them respectively.
I began this article by pointing out the many things that Act of Aggression has going against it, but I hope that you now see that it also has many things going for it. It looks, sounds, and plays great, it’s in the hands of a fantastic group of people, and it won’t nickel-and-dime you to death even after you’ve spent your hard-earned money on it. Suffice it to say, if you’re going to purchase just one strategy game this year, then you should seriously consider making it Act of Aggression.