Act of Aggression is a Real-Time Strategy game from Eugen Systems, the minds behind notable titles such as the Wargame series, RUSE, and Act of War, which this game is a Spiritual Successor to. It aims to return players to "the Golden Era of RTSs" and features all you would expect from a classic RTS: build bases, gather resources to fund your operations, fortify your bases with defenses, build up your army and destroy your foes as you play as one of three distinctive factions, each with their own tech trees and play styles featuring Real Life weapons and technology as well as theoretical prototypes.
Much like its predecessor, the core story revolves around an elite taskforce, aided by the US Army, as they fight against a powerful N.G.O. Superpower hellbent on subjugating the world under their rule by manipulating the economy and instigating conflicts.
In the year 2025, the entire Chinese financial system collapsed in an event referred to as the "Shanghai Crash", plunging the world into the worst economic recession since The Great Depression. Third World Countries were the most badly affected and, combined with dwindling natural resources and increase in civil unrest, were on the brink of collapse. Taking advantage of this vulnerable state, an elusive military industrialist organization known only as the Cartel, made up of influential politicians, corporations from the media and financial sectors, and Private Military Contractors, were able to infiltrate the failing governments and implant their own puppet governments, ruling over the nations it now controls in an aggressive fascist manner. Their main objective however, is to overthrow the US government and placing it under their rule. In response, the US deploys its military to combat them. While still very much the strongest military power in the world, the US Army is exhausted by multiple deployments into endless conflicts worldwide and crippling budget cuts have led to equipment wear and restriction of development into new technology. Morale and discipline has also deteriorated.
Meanwhile the Transnational Crime Organization, a unit of the United Nations tasked with cracking down on global criminal activities, still suspects that the Shanghai Crash was orchestrated. Investigations unfortunately led to dead ends and insufficient evidence hampered progress regarding the case. Investigations were eventually ceased and is now regarded as a mere Conspiracy Theory. That still didn't convince the TNO otherwise and the "Chimera Protocol" was signed in secrecy, an agreement where member nations would provide intelligence and military support for the investigation, which would become crucial in combating the Cartel's growing influence.
The game was released on September the 2nd, 2015. You can see the teaser trailer here, the pre-alpha gameplay trailer here, the US Army trailer here the Chimera Trailer here, the Cartel Trailer here and finally, the Launch Trailer here.
Act of Aggression contains examples of:
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: Each side have at least one. The US Army has the Stryker ICV, Chimera has the Namer while the Puma can be upgraded into one, the Cartel has the Scout CGS and Vextra.
- Badass Army: All three of them, but especially the US Army due to still being able to maintain a powerful force despite being hampered by exhausting deployments, equipment wear, and cancellations of new weapons and technology.
- Because I'm Good at It: The Cartel's Back Story reveals that after the demise of the Soviet Union, they've fulfilled their objective of eradicating communism, but were torn between making sure that communism stays dead or using their new found wealth and military muscle to achieve more. The majority went for the latter it seemed...
- Combat Medic: The Cartel's Punishers, and with an upgrade, Chimera's Namers, can both fight back and heal infantry at the same time. The US Dustoff medical helicopter, however, is unarmed.
- Cyber Cyclops: Cartel's Punishers, front and center on the box art - complete with eerie red glow.
- Death from Above: in multiple flavors befitting for a game with modern/futuristic weapons, including Mortars, Self-propelled Howitzers, Multiple Rocket Launchers, Helicopter Gunships, and finally, fixed-wing Fighters and Bombers.
- Elite Mooks: The infantry of most faction consists of elite soldiers. The US Army have Marines and Delta Force as their basic and elite infantry. The Cartel has the Vanguard, while everybody in Chimera is one.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Cartel's Punishers, full tilt. Inverted with Chimera's Terminators, Buratinos, and Anteys, who are on the most heroic side and sound deep for a reason.
- Faction Calculus: USA are Powerhouse, Chimera are Balanced, and Cartel Subversive.
- Expy: Befitting of this game being a Spiritual Successor to Act of War, the three factions are heavily modeled after the factions in the latter game.
- The US Army appears in both games with largely the same arsenal, being the least technologically advanced but their units are superior in terms of raw strength. They still suffer from Crippling Overspecialization though.
- Chimera to Task Force Talon, both being Elite Armies formed to combat a villainous N.G.O. Superpower and are the Jack-of-All-Stats of the three factions. Notable differences being the Chimera is a multinational taskforce backed by the UN and mainly using current technology in contrast with Task Force Talon being an elite US counterterrorism unit who utilized exotic experimental weapons such as Nanotechnology and Powered Armour.
- Cartel to the Consortium, both being violent non-state actors consisting of corporations and mercenaries who wish to manipulate the world's events for their own gain. They both utilize stealthy tactics and powerful but expensive prototypes stolen from various nations. Again, notable differences are that the Cartel doesn't even hide the fact that their arsenal mostly consists of stolen Super Prototype weapons, whereas the Consortium still employs cheap rabble armed with outdated Cold War weaponry for most of their operations, only bringing out their more advanced prototype weapons in more clandestine operations (or when they finally display their full military might).
- Flawed Prototype: Much like the Consortium, the Cartel makes use of prototype weapons which were either just development studies or cancelled due to disadvantages. Example of the former is the Strv 2000, a development study of a possible new Swedish tank for the next millennium and only made it as far as a wooden mock-up. Example of the latter is the XB-70 Valkyrie, a nuclear capable six-engine strategic bomber designed by the US in the 60's. It was designed to be able to outrun interceptors, but was ultimately made obsolete by improvements in surface-to-air missile technology and the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
- Garrisonable Structures: Garrisoning infantry in buildings is one of the key strategies for the game. Some buildings also grants additional bonus for having your men inside, such as banks that will generate income. Some units, like snipers are able to easily take out infantry taking cover inside however, failing that you can bring the building down with artillery.
- Grand Theft Prototype: The Cartel's arsenal consists largely of prototype weapons that were stolen from various nations, modified to suit their purposes and secretly put into production.
- Great Offscreen War: The Transnistrian War.
- Invisibility Cloak: The Cartel's Strv 2000 "Spectre" comes with optical camouflage, and several other Cartel units can be upgraded with optical camouflage too. Chimera's Ninjas and Fenneks also get in on the action, as do the planes from all three factions.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The Chimera is the most well-balanced faction, with their units being multi functional but lack the punch needed in certain areas. This can be remedied by upgrading them to more specialized roles.
- Leave No Survivors: Interestingly enough for a Real-Time Strategy game, this is actually averted to a degree - it is possible to take injured enemy forces prisoner, and the late-game actually encourages this, as prisoners can be used to obtain rarer resources.
- Macross Missile Massacre: If many missile units are present, this is bound to show. Spam more Buratinos!
- Meaningful Name:
- The Cartel are a group of powerful corporations seeking to gain power and money by secretly working together, which is the textbook definition of "cartel".
- The Chimera are a task force composed of soldiers from many different nations, named after a mythical beast composed of parts from many different animals.
- Motive Decay: The Cartel's "Old Guard" saw themselves as "The Guardians of the Free World", fighting a Cold War against Communist totalitarianism that they did not believe the West could win without help (not as farfetched as it sounds, since they were formed during the "Long Night" between 1960 and 1980). So they staked their collective fortunes, lives, and sacred honor to change the odds. And they shared in the victory of the Cold War.... just in time for the old idealists to die off and be replaced by psychopaths who want to pillage the fallen Soviet Empire for their own profit.
- Multinational Team: The Chimera, a multinational taskforce formed and backed by the UN to combat the Cartel. This is also invoked with their arsenal, which consists of military hardware from various nations such as South Africa, Germany, Russia, even Israel and Japan.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Played With. The game's campaign will put you in the position of a Chimera commander as you and the US Army combat the Cartel. Throughout the campaign, completing the missions will unlock standalone missions, which is the same missions played from the Cartel's perspective.
- No Pronunciation Guide: The voice actors - including the units own driver, consistently pronounce the name of the Namer APC like the English word for someone who names (NAY-mer). Being an IDF vehicle, it is actually named after the Hebrew word for Leopard, which is pronounced Nah-MER. Youd think that the highly-educated, elite operatives of the Chimera, even the non-Israelis (which the Namer driver does sound like she was ''meant'' to be), would at least know how their own weapons are called!
- N.G.O. Superpower: The Cartel is coalition of corporations that has enough money, manpower and resources to wage war on both the United States Army and the Chimera.
- Orbital Bombardment: Much like with the Consortium, the Cartel's superweapon is a control center that allows you to call one of these in.
- Powered Armor: The Chimera's Exosoldiers.
- Private Military Contractors: Many of the Cartel's units are these.
- Product Placement: The game shows the name of the military hardware in great detail, and doesn't shy away from using the real names for weapons, vehicles, or any equipment they have.
- Rare Vehicles: About 90% of Cartel's vehicles and munitions either never entered mass production or didn't even make it off the drawing board. Justified in-story with the idea that those vehicles were never produced because Cartel wanted them for their secret armies.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Cartel's color scheme is black with red highlights and of the three factions they are the most morally dubious.
- Spiritual Successor: Of Act of War. The general theme between the two games is largely similar.
- Tank Goodness: The US have the good ol' M1A2 Abrams, generally considered the best main battle tank but rather specialized in its role. It can be upgraded with even more armor and firepowernote . The Cartel on the other hand have the Strv 2000 (here referred to as the "Spectre"), a Swedish tank that was just a development study, stolen and vastly improved upon. It's armed with a railgun and can be further upgraded with a smaller turret packing a 40mm cannon for added firepower, as well as Invisibility Cloak (the Real Life concept that was developed furthest was armed with a 140mm cannon with a 40mm as a coaxial gun). The Chimera have
- Tanks, but No Tanks: The Boyevaya Mashina Podderzhki Tankov (BMPT) - referred to as the "Terminator" - which can, when upgraded, deal with just about any conceivable target, ground or airborne, and destroy enemy Missiles in flight.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Cartel leaders are this.
- True Sight: Certain units will have the ability to detect stealthed units. The US Little Bird serves as its only unit with such function.
- Units Not to Scale: Downplayed. The infantry is slightly oversized compared to the overall unit and terrain scale. Played straight for the scale of the Contractor's KRISS Vector and the Vanguard's QCW-05: they are as large as an assault rifle.
- Welcome to Corneria: An odd variation. Many units share the same barks in completely different voices.
- You Have Researched Breathing: Some of the units' upgrades, such as the Pantsir's anti-aircraft missiles, the Puma's "passenger acommodation" and the Spectre's autocannon are available to their real-life counterparts by default.
- You Nuke 'Em: Once again, US Army uses Tactical Nukes for it's superweapon. Unlockable at Defcon 1, the Peacekeeper Silo is armed with the LGM-118 Peacekeeper Nuclear missilenote which is "sure to plant a mushroom right in the base of the enemy".