Monday, 11 April 2011

Act of War: High Treason Game Design Review

Act of war High Treason is the expansion pack to the original Act of War featuring like the original a near-future RTS with detailed realistic graphics and fast paced action gameplay. You can read my impressions of Act or War here.

Here's what I like about the expansion:
  • AI pathfinding and grouping have been improved so troops travel now travel in a group rather than previously where the faster units would run ahead and get shot.
  • The unit diversity has been improved as well
  • You can hire mercenaries on the battle field which act as hero units

If you've read my previous review on the original Act of War, nearly of my original criticisms still stand but a few couple more that have been introduced. Anyway, here are the points that stuck out for me:

  • Unit size makes units hard to distinguish and the explosions sometimes cover the action.
  • Action is still very paced and most vehicles seem to blow up even faster in this one thanks to the new units. Both land and air units seem to die a bit too quickly and hard to replace them considering the amount of cash you get. That being said, I suspect that part of the gameplay to help balance this is capturing those POW which give you $500 per capture.
  • In my previous review I mentioned healing required too many clicks. In the expansion, healing has been fixed and there is now healing hot button on the interface. All you need to do is click it and then click on the area you want and any available healing or repair units will travel there. This sounds good in theory but unfortunately, now you don't unlimited healing auras around your healing units. Instead when they appear in an area you only heal a limited amount before having to wait to recharge This is really annoying because if you have only one or two ambulances or nanowave centres, you have wait around for 10 to 15 seconds before healing troops again. This is especially a pain especially for Task Force Talon because you have to build an entirely new nanowave healing centre which is quite costly and each time you heal it costs 250! Even more annoyingly, the amount of health healed is often quite small, it's not even to get my Task Force Talon soldiers back on their feet from 'critical' condition!
  • During naval battle Instead of selecting ships when click on them you select the aircraft on the ship instead. You have to carefully select the bow of the ship instead.
  • With maps with naval combat, whenever you move your view back onto land you zoom right in while if you move back out to sea the view zooms right back making it quite annoying when you're wanting to order your ships to attack land targets.
  • Naval combat is very fun and creates a sense of larger scale of the War. That being said it doesn't seem particularly well connected with the main game. Maybe because there's a distinct lack of interaction between land forces and naval forces. Your naval ships can pretty much tear up any land force without fear of retaliation.
  • Missing general powers like in C & C Generals although the new units and mercanries partially make up for that.
  • Keyboard hotkeys remain all over the place like most RTS instead of clustered together
There are two versions of high Treason, one which requires Act of War and a stand-alone version. I would recommend you buy High Treason by itself if you can find the stand-alone version because of High Treason's additional features and you're not really missing too much.

Again, my overall impression is that I was playing a prettier noisier more realistic version of C & C Generals with less special abilities and variety. Its a competent game but it just can't quite compare to Command and Conquer Generals. In fact after finishing the game, I felt like installing and playing C & C Generals again!

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