We meet with Atari's Henrik Strandberg to take a first look at the recently announced Act of War.
At a recent Atari press event, we had the opportunity to meet with Henrik Strandberg, a senior producer at Atari who is currently working on the just-announced Act of War. We weren't able to get hands-on with Act of War ourselves, but Strandberg did give us plenty of new information on the game as he showed off some of the units in Eugen Systems' great-looking re-creation of Washington, DC.
Only a couple of weeks shy of going to alpha, Act of War is a real-time strategy game that will feature a near-futuristic techno-thriller storyline from best-selling author Dale Brown. The only locale that we got to see for ourselves was a very detailed re-creation of Washington, DC, which, although not entirely accurate, could easily be used as a tour guide map for the city. It featured instantly recognizable museums, galleries, monuments, and suchlike. Washington, DC, will actually be the final locale that the story-driven single-player campaign takes you to--after you've completed antiterrorist missions in such varied locations as London, San Francisco, Egypt, and Russia.
The game's storyline, which revolves around an oil company conglomerate that's looking to raise oil prices, will see you reacting to terrorist attacks in the first couple of missions--before you go on the offensive and start hunting down those responsible for these attacks. In the single-player campaign, you'll be playing both as the modern-day US Army and as the "Task Force Talon," an antiterrorist unit with access to experimental and near-futuristic weaponry. We got to see a number of different units in action during our demo, including some accurate re-creations of the US Army's Paladin and Abrams tanks and the Apache helicopter. The Task Force Talon will employ a number of remotely piloted vehicles and drones in its war on terror, although the unit that we actually got see in action, which Strandberg described as the Talon's signature unit, was a "Shield Unit" that comprises a marine in a powerful exoskeleton. Details on the third faction in the game, the terrorists, are being kept under wraps for the time being, but we understand that you will be able to play as the terrorists only in multiplayer games.
Incredibly detailed visuals aside (the leaves on trees actually cast shadows on one another), Act of War looks like a pretty conventional real-time strategy game, based on what we saw of it. You'll build bases, harvest resources, and see through the fog of war based on what your units can see themselves. There will be some intriguing new features in the game, such as the ability to capture POWs that can be detained to earn you extra resources. On the flip side, if you're looking to locate enemy forces on the battlefield, you can pump your POWs for information. The enemy will also have the ability to capture POWs from you, so you'll want to make sure that any injured troops in your ranks are treated by medics before they surrender themselves. Other resources in the game will vary according to the locale. So in Egypt, for example, you'll most likely be establishing and protecting oil refineries.
Another neat, new feature in Act of War is that you'll be able to send your troops into buildings that have already been garrisoned by the enemy. When you do this, you'll see the two forces battling it out inside until one emerges victorious and claims the building--by positioning guns at windows and on rooftops. The soldiers inside the buildings were only visible as colored silhouettes, just as they would be if they were obscured from your view by any object. The ability to fight inside buildings should make this particular aspect of urban warfare far more interesting in Act of War than it's ever been in (for example) the Command & Conquer series.
Act of War, which will ship with an editing tool for both single- and multiplayer maps, is currently scheduled for release during the second quarter of 2005. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.