|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Eugen Systems||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 7, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
in Ubisoft's Breakthrough RTS
by Caleb Newby
September 4, 2009 - Real-time strategies have come under a lot of criticism over the years. From accusations that they've become nothing more than a click fest or resource gathering games masked as strategic combat, the genre seemed to be stalling out in the not too distant past. It hasn't helped that console gaming has superseded the RTS-friendly PC platform by leaps and bounds. But never fear, devoted RTS guru. A comeback has been brewing for some time now, with innovations being made as developers look to differentiate their experience from those of video gaming past. Easily one of the most epic in scope and intriguing in premise is Eugen System's R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception, published by behemoth Ubisoft.
Set in World War II, R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception gets its name from a central mechanic of, well, creating "ruses" or misinformation to cause your opponents to blunder in their tactics. During gameplay you are able to select from a number of ruses that will cause various problems for your enemy. Ubisoft's Senior Producer Mathieu Girard is fond of explaining by drawing analogies to poker. In Texas Hold'em, players share a limited amount of information regarding the hand based on the cards that come down on the flop, turn, and river. The strategy comes from the two cards in their hand allowing skilled players to pull of intricate bluffs and maneuvers. A similar concept applies in R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception, players have access to certain shared information but are able to bluff to get the upper hand.
On Ubisoft's website a countdown has begun to reveal ten of the ruses found in the game. Playing the decryption ruse reveals enemy orders in the region - the spy reveals all enemy units in the area. Radio silence, conversely, hides all your units in the sector. Launching a decoy offensive will send fake units to cause your opponent to maneuver out of position and open to attack. The last revealed ruse on the countdown is the camouflage net, effectively hiding all allied buildings in the sector from appearing on radar.
That the term "sector" is used when describing how ruses' work is important, maps are so large that they are broken down into several smaller sectors which act as the areas of effect for ruse powers. Radio silence, for example, won't be a blanket effect but instead provide silence in one particular region. This restriction should allow for a lot of creativity from players. It should be interesting to see what strategies develop within the community with ruses. Real units filling in for fake units is a common ruse tactic, as players become jaded and are surprised that the incoming tanks are, in fact, real this time. Anyone familiar with poker should be salivating at the intricate potential for a real mental war beyond who can click the mouse fastest.
Ruses are only the tip of the iceberg of what R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception has to offer. The deception-based abilities will garner much of the attention, and rightly so, but there is significantly more to the game. Gameplay videos and screenshots will show you that this is one powerful engine with gorgeous artwork. A completely new game engine, IRISZOOM, allows for extreme views of the battlefield. By pulling far out you are presented with a two dimensional battlefield reminiscent of those found in generals' war rooms. It's here that you unleash powerful ruses on various sectors of the map. Zooming in closer allows for resource management and more detail-oriented jobs, zoom in closer and you'll be following individual units up close and personal.
R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception is set as a historical WWII game, following real campaigns and situations encountered. With the glut of WWII set games, it is refreshing to see a new, unique take on the time period that will give a new experience and perspective. As you may expect, Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom are represented in-game and with different strengths.
For fans of the traditional RTS, don't worry; there are still the staple elements of resource gathering, building construction, and unit production. It exists, but is now secondary to the tactical scope. Resources need roads to get from point A to point B, making supply lines of vital importance. The combined historical setting and new gameplay mechanics make R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception an exciting upcoming release. History buffs should see tactics used in famous campaigns viable for the first time, while the poker strategy will undoubtedly have mass appeal. Previously announced for late 2009, R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception is now scheduled for a first quarter 2010 release. The delay is a bummer to our impatient side, but it's hard to argue with the developers. When poised with a potential genre-defining title of this magnitude, it's wise to make sure it's done right.
CCC Freelance Writer