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The Act of War series is a Real-Time Strategy franchise developed by Eugen Studios (now better known for the Wargame series) and published by Atari, which is 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 Cut Scene 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. There's also a Spin-OffTower Defense game called Act of War: Urban Defense.There are three factions in the game, United States Army, Task Force Talon and the Consortium.The story centers around the efforts of Task Force Talon, an elite US counter-terrorism force led by Major Jason Richter, to fight back the actions of the Consortium, an extremely powerful international organization conspiring to manipulate the economic order of the world for their own gain. Task Force Talon must counter their operations across the world, including in America itself.Another highlight of the game is the realism of the combat mechanics. Units have a limited range of sight, which can be further restricted by terrain and structures, and can be critically injured from taking too much damage, utterly disabling them. A unique feature is the Prisoner of War system, where critically injured enemy troops or non-combat personnel from destroyed vehicles and buildings can be captured and sent to specialized buildings where they produce additional income. Capturing enemy wounded and medivacing/healing your own is an important aspect of gameplay.Weapons of mass destruction and air raids are available, the latter working with air control towers instead of the usual airfields. High Treason introduces the option to call for mercenaries, powerful specialist units which can fight for you in exchange for periodical payments. It also adds naval combat and amphibious operations.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.A Spiritual Successor, Act of Aggression, has been announced.
The last two missions in Direct Action have you going up against Consortium troops exclusively using US Army equipment and uniforms.
More prominent in High Treason, since the plot of the game is about a coup d'état of the US government. The final mission even features Consortium troops using Task Force Talon equipment for the first time.
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: A few units in each faction tend to be very good at one thing, but useless outside of that role. In addition, some units have multiple modes which are cripplingly overspecialized in different things.
Critical Existence Failure: Zig-Zagged. Infantry will lose speed when their health drops below half, and vehicles and ships can't shoot when badly damaged enough. Structures and aircraft, on the other hand, don't lose any of their capabilities as they take damage.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: President Baldwin, 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's Task Force Commandos are elites as well, despite being their basic infantry unit. They can be made even more elite in the expansion, with the Future Force Warrior upgrade.
Faction Calculus: United States Army (Powerhouse), Task Force Talon (Subversive), Consortium (Balanced).
<Hero> Must Survive: If either Jefferson or Oz show up in a mission, they have to survive or it's game over.
Hero Unit: Sergeant Major Ray Jefferson in Direct Action, who is joined by Sergeant Oz Jackson in High Treason.
Honest Corporate Executive: Not instantly apparent, but the oil CEO rescued in the first quarter of the game comes off as this when one realises that he was resisting Consortium efforts to take over the newly discovered Egyptian oilfields (potent enough to turn around the current oil crisis) and paid a heavy price for it.
Human Resources: The resources aren't literally extracted from their bodies, but the player does receive money for every enemy infantry unit they capture, and every faction has a special structure which can generate money with the enemies being held in custody.
The Masquerade: A mundane version occurs in the second San Francisco mission in Direct Action, when Richter asks General Kelly to authorise the use of S.H.I.E.L.D units. Chamberlain rejects it on the 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 disastrous situation. Richter counters that the already bad situation will get even worse without them, and Chamberlain concedes.
Missing Backblast: Probably overaverted, where the player can have infantry occupy buildings for added protection. Attempting this with rocket-armed troops will result in the death of the rocket guy, some or all of any other infantry in the building, and considerable damage to the building itself the instant something hostile comes within range of the garrisoned building and those rocket guys open fire on it.
Monumental Damage: In Direct Action, the Golden Gate bridge gets badly damaged during the campaign, and the last two missions have several Washington DC monuments that can be destroyed, though this causes mission failure for a couple of them.
More Dakka: Every faction has a lot of it, particularly for anti-infantry or anti-air weapons.
He even lampshades it when he is brought back to the States, giving a sarcastic response when the Americans ask him why he did what he did. It is also made clear that the rest of the Consortium is not happy about this.
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.
The same for Oz in the expansion.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Chamberlain, the US Secretary of Defense in Direct Action. He turns out to be a member of the Consortium, so that might be the real reason for his interference.
Psycho for Hire: Zakharov eventually turns out as such. He's more interested in wrecking havoc in America than making a profit from the sky-rocketing oil prices, the latter of which was the reason he was brought into the Consortium in the first place.
Put on a Bus: General Kelly gets arrested for bogus charges at the start of the expansion, though he comes back for the last few missions. Like President Baldwin, he was a prominent character in the original game and most likely dropped due to the lack of live action cutscenes.
In Direct Action, there are two: Task Force Talon is stated to be a "Direct Action" team, and during the invasion of San Francisco, Jefferson says that this isn't just a terrorist attack, but an "Act of War".
In High Treason, it's stated a couple of times that Task Force Talon is wanted for "High Treason".
Units Not to Scale: While infantry are a bit out of scale with a few vehicles, it's mostly kept at very realistic proportions, particularly in urban combat, where the infantry can be seen inside the structure and will fire through the windows.
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. For example, the F-15 is the strongest fighter plane in the game, but only carries Anti-Air Missiles.
Deflector Shields: The Abrams tank can be upgraded with temporary shields which reduce any incoming damage.
Fun with Acronyms: EFV (Electronic Fighting Vehicle), MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) and FAT-V (Future All Terrain Vehicle).
Gatling Good: A-10 Warthogs, though they only use them in High Treason.
Grenade Launcher: A potential upgrade for the Marine, which causes every 5th shot to be a grenade.
Invisibility Cloak: The EFV in the expansion can give this to any friendly unit nearby, except for other EFVs.
Yanks with Tanks: Of course, with virtually everything they use on the battlefield being taken from real life.
You Nuke 'Em: Their Tactical Weapon is a tactical "Wolverine" nuke.
Task Force Talon
Attack Drone: They love this trope a lot. They have construction drones, recon drones, tank drones which can switch between a 105mm railgun, a rack of AA missiles or suicide bomber drones, and drone planes. The expansion adds a modified recon drone that can become a mine and a version of the aforementioned tank drone that carries a cruise missile instead.
Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Stryker deserves a special mention, since you can upgrade it to become a mortar platform or an antitank unit.
BFG: Their Heavy Snipers pack .50 cal anti-materiel rifles that can put the hurt on vehicles and infantry with equal efficiency.
Dual Mode Unit: Many of their units can select an alternate mode, which can give them completely different capabilities.
Elite Army: To give you an idea, their basic infantry unit, the Task Force Commando, can easily dispatch any of their counterparts from the other factions even if outnumbered. They can become even more elite with the Future Force Warrior upgrade added in the expansion.
BFG: The Kornet, which require two soldiers to be fired and only needs one to two shots to take down most tier 1 vehicles. Also a case of Glass Cannon, as they're fragile.
Cannon Fodder/Mooks: Their standard AK-74 soldier is the weakest of the basic infantry, with a Task Force Commando being able to take on 3 of them at the same time and win.
Colony Drop: The Falling Star project originally developed by the US, 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 which was cancelled because the US military preferred the more flexible and agile F-22 Raptor, can be built by this faction. It's the weakest plane in terms of damage output, but it can attack both air and ground units and drop bombs against structures, making it the Jack-of-All-Trades of aircraft in gameplay.
Grenade Launcher: While called and treated as a mortar unit, the MM-1 soldier is using an oversized grenade launcher.
Invisibility Cloak: Except for the Piranha artillery and the Blackjack bomber, all of their high tier units have stealth technology.
Magnetic Weapons: The Consortium's only defense buildings are railgun turrets, which are exceptionally effective against everything. Their Akula stealth tanks also pack dual railguns.
Mighty Glacier: The Mi-35 Hind-D copter is slower than its counterparts, but it has enough armor and HP to survive loads of punishment. Once upgraded with rocket batteries and missiles, it can win a one-on-one fight even against most AA units.
N.G.O. Superpower: The Consortium has enough money and tech to wage open war against America, even managing to occupy Washington DC.
Non Indicative Name: This faction has two tech levels. The first is "Undercover", which doesn't have any stealth units, while the second is "Revealed", which primarily consists of stealth units.
Renegade Russian: Zakharov, the leader of the Consortium in Direct Action, is Russian. He also convinces a Russian army unit to join him.
Russians with Rusting Rockets: A considerable amount of Consortium equipment is Russian in origin: Mi-17 construction copters, AK-74 assault rifles, RPG-7 rocket launchers, SA-7 AA missiles, Kornet guided AT missiles, BTR-80 IF Vs, Tunguska AA vehicles, Tu-160 bombers and Mig-21 fighters (campaign only).
The Plague: Basically the objective of the Consortium in High Treason, and of course the Ebola loaded weapons they normally use.
We Have Reserves: Both in gameplay and in story, the Consortium can easily afford to take heavy casualties.
Yanks with Tanks: Consortium units that don't use Russian equipment tend to use stolen prototype tech from the US, like the YF-23 Black Widow and Falling Star WMD. They also use captured US equipment quite often during both campaigns.
Zerg Rush: Considering how cheap their basic infantry is, 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.
Macross Missile Massacre: The "Rawhide" Smerch Rocket battery (misnamed in the game, it's actually the Russian TOS-1), which has even more missiles than the US MLRS, great for annihilating the enemy in a rain of fire.