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The Act of War series is a Real Time Strategy franchise developed by Eugen Studios and published by Atari, based on the works of Dale Brown, and features modern warfare along with some Twenty Minutes Into the Future sci-fi technology, excellent 3D graphics, pre-rendered Cutscene videos and its own music. The game was originally released as Act of War: Direct Action and has an Expansion Pack named Act of War: High Treason.
In terms of plot the Act of War series centers around the efforts of the United States Task Force Talon to fight back the actions of the Consortium, an extremely powerful oil organization whose leaders conspire to manipulate the economic order of the world for their own gain. There are many twists in the story and many international organizations and governments end involved, as a result of this war is waged worldwide.
Along with the plot another highlight of the game is the realism of the combat mechanics, instead of more classic RTS where units are relatively cheap, have a wide range of sight even behind structures they are in front, keep fighting until having 0 hitpoints Act of War brings a delicate combat balance were units range of sight depends on the terrain and usually deal heavy damage and can be combat crippled, on this sense the long term economy of the game centers around prisoners of war, a result of critically injured enemy troops or non-combat personal from destroyed vehicles and buildings being captured and sent to detention camps where they produce additional income.
Weapons of mass destruction and air raids are available, the latter ones working with air control towers instead of the usual airfields, also, High Treason introduces the option to call for mercenaries, powerful specialist units which can fight for you in exchange of a periodical funds taken from your resources.
As you may imagine there are many tropes applied to this game, so it's ordered in 5 folders, one for the game itself, three for the factions and one for the Mercenaries.
Act of War
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: Humvees, BTR-80s, Strykers and more!
- Command and Conquer Economy: All three factions run on one single resource, money, this can be adquired through oil derricks and POWs.
- Cool Boat: The expansion introduces naval warfare, and of course most of the units are very cool.
- Cool Plane: One of the highlights of the game is the amount of real-life cool planes and helicopters you find.
- Crippling Overspecialization: The natural result of ingame balance demand this trope.
- Dale Brown: the mind behind the plot of the game.
- Decoy Protagonist: Jefferson is a lot more prominent in the first quarter of the game than he is in the rest of it. The expansion downright blurs him with Richter at times.
- Death From Above: You may expect a lot of this from this game.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The US President, who was rather prominent in the original game, gets killed at the start of the expansion, triggering the plot.
- Elite Mooks: The U.S. Army and Consortium have the Delta Force and Optical Camo Soldier, respectively. TFT is stuck with Task Force Commandos as their only basic infantry type until High Treason when they get access to Future Force Warriors.
- Friendly Sniper: Oz from the expansion.
- Full Motion Video: Perhaps the only recent game bar Command & Conquer to use these, with some surprisingly high production values.
- They did away with them in High Treason, though thanks to a few CGI cutscenes shot like FMVs, it can take a while before a player actually notices that. Make of what what you will.
- Garrisonable Structures: Civilian structures can be occupied, with the counter options being snipers and and sending men in. You can also place troops on top of them.
- Glass Cannon: Some of the infantry units and even vehicles are this, they can deal a massive amount of damage but cant survive too much enemy fire.
- Hit Point: the game takes an interesting twist on this sense by making the units lose combat capabilities after having their hp reduced to less than a fifth of their total life, in the case of the infantry the move slower after losing half of their life and will not viable to move after suffering critical damage, making them easy to capture. The structures and planes on the other hand follow the Critical Existence Failure trope.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Not instantly apparent, but the oil CEO you rescue at the first quarter of the game comes off as this when one realises that he was resisting Consortium efforts to take over the Egyptian oilfields (which were the only viable oilfields left in the world) and paid a heavy price for it.
- Human Resources: more like POW resources, you receive money for every enemy infantry unit captured, and every faction has an special structure which can generate money with the enemies you hold in custody.
- The Masquerade: A mundane version occurs in the San Francisco missions, when Richter asks General Kelly to authorise the use of S.H.I.E.L.D. units. Kelly rejects it on grounds that there are reporters all over the city and the revelation of the US military having Powered Armor would be the icing on an already disasterous situation.
- More Dakka: What you can expect from a game about modern (and plausibly futuristic) armies.
- Nigh Invulnerable: In campaign mode, Sgt. Major Jefferson. He has a ridiculously high health bar and a very, very fast HP regeneration rate. Additionally, whenever his HP goes below a fifth (where any other infantry would slowly die a painful death) Jefferson keeps regenerating and gets back up soon thereafter, making him very hard to capture. The downside? If you lose him, it's game over.
- Oz can also be considered this in High Treason.
- Put on a Bus: General Kelly gets arrested for bogus charges at the start of the expansion. Like The President, he was a prominent character on the original game and most likely dropped due to the lack of live action cutscenes.
- Ridiculously-Fast Construction: while on the practice this is basically what is going on, the developers added the visual animation of the vehicles coming in containers carried by helicopters from outside the map, it's interesting to notice the helicopters are untargetable.
- Shoot the Medic First: This is particularly important because they can actually bribe your chance to make some POWs.
- Stuff Blowing Up: From nukes to falling satellites.
- Tank Goodness: The Tier 3 tanks are very powerful.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, particularly evident with the artillery weapons, seems to know where are your forces, of course you can play it against it.
- Title Drop: In the first game, there are two: when it is stated that Task Force Talon is a "Direct Action" team, and during the invasion of San Francisco when Jefferson says that this isn't just a terrorist attack, but an "Act of War."
- Units Not to Scale: Mostly subverted, while the soldiers are a bit out of scale with some of the vehicles most of the things keep a very realistic proportion, this is well noticed in urban combat, where the infantry can be seen inside the structure and and fire through the windows.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: Every faction has one of this, and their counter system.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: So, about that world oil crisis that triggered the plot...?
- It does receive a brief Hand Wave about the Egyptian oil fields being the most potent ones discovered yet, but that is it
- Also, we hear that the Consortium took over Cuba in the expansion, but that plot goes nowhere once the the TFT leaves the country.
- X Meets Y: According to Atari's official UK website for Act of War: Direct Action, PC Zone's exact words for Act of War are "Command & Conquer goes to Hollywood".
- That said, Act of War is rather different from that time Command and Conquer actually did go to Hollywood.
United States Army
- Cold Sniper: excellent in their role, but you better make it fall back against any other kind of unit.
- Crippling Overspecialization: One of the main characteristics of this faction, they have units which are far superior than any other in a particular area, but are basically useless out of their main role, the F-15 is a good example, being the strongest fighter plane of the game but not having any weapons outside AA missiles.
- Deflector Shields: The Abrams tank can be upgraded with temporal shields which reduce any incoming damage.
- Invisibility Cloak: The Electronic Fighting Vehicle (EFV) can do that, along with some other tricks, see a few tropes below.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The MLRS is all about this, and you will hate it when the computer uses it, on the other hand, you can use it too.
- Power Nullifier: The EFV.
- Power-Up: The EFV again.
- Semper Fi: Ironically, the basic infantry for the U.S. Army are Marines.
- Peace Through Superior Firepower/Bombers: US Army have access to the B-2A Spirit.
- Yanks With Tanks: Of course, with virtually everything they use on the battlefield being taken from real life.
Task Force Talon
- Armor-Piercing Attack: The Heavy Sniper rifle, which is logical if you consider it's bullets dont just deal massive damage to infantry units but also to vehicles.
- Attack Drone: TFT loves this trope, they have construction drones, tank drones with suicide bomber drones, air drones and even mine drones, and of course we cant forget the Spanner drone, which launches a Titan cruise missile, which can be controlled by the player and has no range limit.
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Stryker deserves a special mention, since you can upgrade it become a mortar platform or an antitank unit.
- Badass Army: To give you an idea, the basic infantry unit, the Task Force Commando, can easily dispatch any of their counterparts from the other factions without really much problem, and in High Treason you can upgrade them as Future Force Warriors to become even deadlier.
- Cool Car: This is a buggy!
- Invisibility Cloak: The Comanche and the V-44 have this.
- Powered Armor: The S.H.I.E.L.D units count, they are soldiers using massive mechanical exoskeletons which allow them to move faster and carry bigger weapons than normal infantry could have, on the downer side, they become more vulnerable to enemy anti-vehicle fire.
- Military Mashup Machine: The Spinner is a drone tank which can transform into a suicide drone platform or AA battery, the S.H.I.E.L.D units may count too.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Polaris Sniper vehicle, which is basically a buggy with a sniper in the turret, good against lightly armed infantry but useless against anything else, another case of Crippling Overspecialization.
- BFG: The Kornet team, which require two soldiers to be fired and only needs one to two shots to take down most tier 1 vehicles, they are also a Glass Cannon.
- Cannon Fodder: The Consortium can easily afford this, both ingame and in the story.
- Colony Drop: The Falling Star project, the Consortium WMD, works by making a satellite fall over enemy targets, it can be upgraded with Ebola virus to deal additional damage to any unfortunate survivor.
- Flawed Prototype: The YF-23 Black Widow, a real-life plane whose project was dropped due the US military prefering the Raptor due the later being more flexible and agile, can be built by this faction, however, although it's the weakest plane in terms of damage output it can attack both air and ground units and drop bombs against structures, which ironically makes it the Jack of All Stats amongst the planes of the game.
- Invisibility Cloak: Except for the Piranha artillery and the Blackjack bomber all the Consortium high tier units have stealth technology.
- Ironic Nickname: You have 2 technology levels for this faction, first one is "Undercover", you have no stealth units, the second one is "Revealed" with most of the units belonging to this tier being stealth.
- Magnetic Weapons: The Constorium's only defensive system are railgun turrets, which are exceptionally effective against everything, they also have the Akula, a heavily armored stealth tank which can be upgraded with dual railguns.
- Mighty Glacier: The Mi-35 Hind-D copter is comparatively slower than their enemy counterparts, but it has enough armour and HP to survive loads of punishment and once upgraded with rocket batteries and missiles it can win a direct fight against AA units.
- Mooks: the standard AK-74 soldier is this, as one TFT Commando can kill three of them.
- NGO Superpower: The Consortium is basically this. Lots of money and lots of fancy weapons to wage war against America and give players an excuse to blow stuff up.
- We Have Reserves: This is how Tier 1 works for this faction, most of their early units are cheap and fast to build, the Consortium had no problems in sacrificing them against their enemies forces, nevertheless a good player can maximize their utility while not losing them.
- Renegade Russian: Zakharov, the leader of the Consortium, is Russian, he also convinces some Russian forces to join him.
- Russians With Rusting Rockets: Not just in the campaign, a considerable amount of units from the Consortium are made in Russia: Mi-17 construction copters, Ak-74 infantry, RPG-7 soldiers, SA-7 soldiers, Kornet teams, BTR-80 IF Vs, Tunguska AA vehicles, Tu-160 bombers, Mig-21 (in campaign only).
- The Plague: Basically the objective of the Consortium in High Treason, and of course the Ebola loaded weapons they normally use.
- Zerg Rush: Considering how cheap is the basic infantry of this faction it's an affordable tactic, although it can be countered with a decent amount of effort.
- Big Bulky Bomb: The "Fireworks" illegal mercenary, a truck which can deploy a nuclear warhead.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Need some additional fast overwhelming firepower in exchange of money? Well now you know what to use.
- Combat Medic: The "Grizzly" Rescue Team, which both can fight and heal friendly units.
- Invisibility Cloak: The "Shadow Hawk" F-117A Nighthawk is, of course, an stealth plane.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The "Rawhide" Smerch Rocket battery (misnamed in the game, it's actually the Russian TOS-1), which has even More Dakka than the US MLRS, great for annihilating the enemy in a rain of fire.
- Private Military Contractors: We have the official, the unofficial and the illegal.
- Russians With Rusting Rockets: Some of the mercenaries seem to be Russians: The "Deathwing" Su-27, the "Iron Rain" Su-25 and the "Burning Legion" T-80.