The Real Time Strategy genre gained popularity with games like DUNE and Command & Conquer however with the release of R.U.S.E  on Xbox 360, Ubisoft are redefining the way that gamers choose to wage strategic warfare.

Ruse

In a genre where gamers have got a bit tired of churning out troops, selecting units and clicking their way into battle, R.U.S.E  is a more strategic game play where you  use Poker style tactics to win.

Sound strange? Well once you understand that the principle behind R.U.S.E. is all about calling your opponents bluff the Poker analogy makes more sense. In a game of Poker you keep your cards hidden, making plays to lead your opponents into thinking what you want them to – in R.U.S.E., you can see the enemy positions, but then calling a play on the way to attack those positions, or the way they intend to move, may not pan out as you have been lead to believe.

The battlefield is a constantly changing environment, there is always a risk in any choice that you make, it’s being able to plan for every eventuality that is key.

For example, you notice that the enemy has a number of factories which are key structures in producing resources. Taking them out would be a huge blow for the enemy supply lines and a huge loss in funds. So, you begin to plan the attack, creating a column of tanks and some light infantry. As you press forward into battle you realise the factories are fake, leaving your flank open for attack and cut off from getting support. Obviously you can pull the same tactic on your enemy, and that is a key part of what R.U.S.E. is all about. Deceiving your opponent into no win situations is certainly the formula for success.

When viewed from the highest level the battlefield is split into zones, with each zone being able to perform a single R.U.S.E. However, they can be combined to put tactics into play that will be truly devastating to the enemy. An example of this in play would be putting radio silence on your forces located in one zone, while allowing the enemy to see your factories in another. The enemy, deciding to send their advanced Panza column to level your factories only to realise that they are nothing but a R.U.S.E. Now it’s time to launch the assault while the enemy leaves gaping holes in their defences, allowing for an easy win against a far superior enemy force.

Calling effective bluffs in R.U.S.E. will see you win battles, but being able to perform them comes down to a certain amount of micromanagement, which is where the RTS side of the game comes into play. Zoom the camera in to the closest possible view and the game certainly begins to look like familiar RTS territory. The only resource in R.U.S.E is money, which you get by building depots and factories. Money can then be spent on producing more troops, tanks, planes, and a plethora of other units. Constructing buildings also takes on a number of tactical decisions, build them close to your main base will see them built quicker, but then that will have an effect on troop production.

While zoomed all the way in other tactics can be used, like using artillery to blockade roads and take out supply lines. Doing so will mean the enemy will have to change any well placed plans they may have been working on, but remember, the same can also be done to you! R.U.S.E also features a mid-range view, which is used as an overall view of the battle or to keep track of airborne units. So when in close it’s all about micromanagement, mid-range is an overview, and all the way out is used for placing and planning R.U.S.E. tactics.

Zooming in and out of the battlefield in R.U.S.E. is hands down the most impressive I have ever seen and works superbly on the Xbox. The game uses a rendering engine called Iriszoom, which renders the environment with an eye-watering amount of detail. When zoomed out the game takes on a map style view with small regions. Zoom into one of those regions and you realise they are much bigger than you expected them to be. Each area is huge and looks simply fantastic, and that all happens in an instant.

R.U.S.E. uses something not seen in an RTS before but is more familiar in the first person shooter genre. When units come under attack they will obviously take damage, take to much damage and they will be destroyed. But move those units out of the firing line and they will recover any damage taken over a period of time. Now combine the Poker style R.U.S.E. tactics, the micromanagement of construction, unit production, and moving troops around the battlefield, and what you have is an RTS game unlike any other. It redefines the rules, the way you approach each combat situation, no longer will producing a column of 20 tanks to pound your enemy into oblivion win the day. Effectively performing a well planned and combined R.U.S.E. and moving troops up into support roles is key.

With fluid game play which moves at an exciting pace, and a smooth learning curve, R.U.S.E. on the xbox 360 is shaping up to be the next benchmark for RTS games of the future.

R.U.S.E is available to order now on PC and Xbox 360.

This article was written by Steve Butler, editor at the excellent gaming blog site DailyJoypad.com

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