There are a lot of different types of deception open to players in RUSE
, but many of the most powerful ones appear as special orders or power-ups that you can play on your units or onto the battlefield.
These can either be things that affect a wide area of the site, such as a blanket of radio silence that makes troops hidden to all but a physical check, or they can be specifically focused items, such as fake bases. You’re not just limited to fake buildings either – you can litter the battlefield with fake troops or trucks disguised as tanks or vice versa.
You can even go so far as to hide real troops among your fake ones, so when an enemy investigates and finds your troops are fake you can launch a surprise attack from behind as they retreat. It’s a devious double-bluff that takes advantage of the huge maps that make up levels in RUSE
– and they are massive!
Making sure that you can navigate these huge and complex landscapes, which thankfully aren’t just limited to the usual drab greys of Stalingrad and Warsaw but also include the French countryside and northern Africa, is a brand new engine too. It’s called IrisZoom technology and it’s utterly fabulous in that it lets you alter the viewpoint and level of zoom on a massive scale. In a crude way it’s like Sins of a Solar Empire
meets Call of Duty
The zoom functions of the IrisZoom engine are seamless and craftily built into the game too, allowing you to literally view the entire battlefield at once, or focus right down to individual units. Zoom out far enough and the landscape will gradually change into a tactical map in a far off war room too, with the animated units swapped out for iconic statuettes that move across the contours of the map via large command arrows. It’s like the planning scene from every decent WW2 film and allows you to survey good ambush points at a glance.
In a further effort to keep the game a cunning blend of reality and cinema, players aren’t limited to building bases in certain locations either, as they are in other console RTS games. Yes Halo Wars
; we're looking at you.
you can erect buildings and summon units anywhere and from the very start of the game, provided you have enough cash to afford your desires. The difficulty and balancing stems from the fact that all resources have to travel along set roads and supply lines, and that includes mined resources and shipped construction materials. While you can build something on the far side of the map if you want, you'll have to factor in that your supply trucks will take ages to get there and back, meaning the build will take much, much longer. For resources, this has been capitalised on, with the most profitable mines being the furthest out and taking the longest to get to.
If there’s one potential falling point for RUSE
then it isn’t in the core gameplay or the graphics as, judging by what we’ve seen so far, the game is shaping up excellently in these departments. The way that players are actively encouraged to trick each other using a mix of on-the-fly tactics and factually based power-ups is both bold and exciting, while the graphics are equally impressive.
No; what might prove to be a problem for RUSE
is the sheer amount of competition. This year has, much to the irritation of some more twitch-orientated gamers, been remarkably kind to strategy fans. We’ve seen a lot of great strategy games already this year, many of them in the WW2 time setting, and there’s still more to follow. It’s very possible that Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
and Men of War
will still be satisfying gamers when RUSE
That’s all speculation though; but what we do know for a fact is that RUSE
is looking like an excellent strategy game to look forward to, both for PC and console. It’s smooth, slick and simple to get to grips with, while at the same time being clever and original enough to surprise us. Let’s just hope that Ubisoft isn’t just playing an elaborate hoax on us.
RUSE is set for release towards the end of 2009 on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and will be published by Ubisoft.