GamesCom 2009: RUSE Preview - All Kinds of Trickery

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Ubisoft announced RUSE at E3 2008 with a quirky and fairly unique trailer that left us with more questions than answers – one of the signs of a good trailer is to get people talking about it. That hard work was undone at E3 2009 though when they bizarrely followed it up by showing the same trailer. Did they think we wouldn’t notice? One year on and they couldn’t even rustle up a new trailer? Shame on you Ubisoft.  Thankfully though, behind closed doors in Cologne this year we weren’t treated to the same old trailer – although we were kind of expecting it, we actually got chance to check out the title in action and we were pleasantly surprised.

So what is RUSE exactly? RUSE is a traditional RTS title with a few different twists and takes on the genre which look to separate it from the pack. Yes, it does work a lot like a traditional RTS in regard to resource and micro-management, but it leaves a few of the traditional hang ups behind and throws in the “RUSE” aspect to totally blow the traditional formula out the water. Not only is this title a battle of strategy, but it’s a battle of wits as well, as Ubisoft look to add another layer of tactics to the proceedings.
I’d love to be able to sit here and spew out details regarding the game’s campaign – setting, timeline, plot, etc – but the simple fact is, we don’t know that much. We do know that the game will involve six different factions; UK, US, Germany, Italy, USSR and France; and there will be 20 missions that will take around 10 to 15 hours to complete. Other than that, we’re in the dark just as much as you are. What we can do though is sit here and talk about the mechanics, what we can expect and how RUSE tries to separate itself from its competitors.

So RUSE as you can tell by now is a traditional RTS game with a few innovations up its sleeve. Yes, you will have to provide power, build depots, and do the general resource harvesting that you would expect from an RTS title, but you aren’t confined to setting up shop in an allocated area of the map. If you want to, you can send a unit up to your opponent’s base and set up shop there, but it’s not advised. Players will also be able to see the entire map right from the off, unless of course one of the RUSE cards is played – more on that later though.

The map will also play a big part in RUSE as well, with towns (and even forests) on the map acting as great places to camp infantry simply because there is a 4x damage boost tied to them. The terrain on the other hand will intercept your unit’s firing range, which adds another element to the proceedings. The key to success in RUSE though – other than the actual ruses themselves – is controlling the roads, as you’ll need to use them to expand, gather resources and build buildings. As Ubisoft put it, “if you control the roads in RUSE, you control the game.”
In terms of units on offer in the title, we saw a wide variety including bombers, Sherman tanks, fighter planes and artillery displacements, to name but a few. The combat in RUSE actually differs from other RTS titles though. Not only is the vehicle health not shown in terms of a health bar and instead you are given visual triggers with regard to the state of your vehicles (not sure how that would translate to infantry), but if units aren’t engaged in combat, then they will repair automatically over time. So retreat is just as important a tactical option in RUSE than attack is. Expect the traditional rock, paper, scissors rules to apply though.

So this RUSE malarkey; what’s it all about then? In laymen’s terms, a RUSE is a deception – a tool that players in the game can use to trick their opponent. You’ve seen the trailer right? Well, that’s essentially what it is. In the short demo we got chance to see a few of these ruses in action. Let us run you through a few of them:

Camouflage Net – The “camouflage net” ruse allows the player to place a camouflage net over a particular zone which makes their buildings invisible to their opponent for a limited period of time.

Decryption – The “decryption” ruse allows the player to see their opponent’s moves within a certain zone for a limited period of time. Their moves are indicated on screen with red arrows.

Radio Silence – The “radio silence” ruse makes a player’s units invisible to your enemy in the selected zone for a limited period of time.

– The “blitz” ruse doubles the speed of your units within a certain zone for a limited period of time.

Spy Plane – The “spy plane” ruse reveals your enemy’s units within a certain zone for a limited period of time.

All in all, there are 10 ruses to take advantage of and each player has a set amount that they can use – gaining more as the game goes on. It should be worth noting that the ruses are zone specific and do not work across the whole map. For example, the map will be split in to 12 zones and they will only work in the selected zone for a short period of time – ranging from 1 minute to 4 minutes.

In a short 1 on 1 versus skirmish that we were watching, both players were embroiled in a small war in the middle of the map. It was at this point where we saw the ruse aspect really shine. The player on the back foot had a few ruses to use and instead of using them in the middle of the combat area to gain the upper hand, he used Blitz and Radio Silence on a few zones to the left-centre of the map. He then decided to place a Camouflage Net over a zone next to his opponent’s base where he decided to build a vehicle depot and create 10 tanks. The ruses that were used effectively allowed the guy on the back foot to win the match by sneaking around the back with an army of tanks. There he quickly destroyed his opponent’s base, cut off his supplies, before finishing off his remaining forces in the middle. Trickery at its best.

Our first experience with RUSE was a positive one and we’re fans of the whole trickery system – we love innovation. We’ll be interested in seeing how the balance and controls shape up when the game ships next year, because after all, RTS titles on consoles generally get a bad rep. Still, we’re quietly optimistic.

RUSE is currently slated for a Q1 2010 release date on the Xbox 360, PC and PS3.


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Game Info
Eugen Systems


US September 07, 2010
Europe September 10, 2010

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