Check out the latest from Ubi Paris - a rather unique RTS title for PC and console.
R.U.S.E., otherwise known as 'deception'. The ability to get one up over your opponent by method of cunning and tenacious forward planning. This is the basis, and in fact the name, of the upcoming real time strategy game developed by Eugen Systems. At a private Ubisoft event last week, Kikizo was present for the announcement of this intriguing take on an otherwise overcrowded genre.
The player's ambushed infantry units go up against tanks, knowing that armored units are vulnerable in urban envrionments.
It certainly seems that if you want to make a game in this day and age it has to be either a first person shooter or an RTS. Calling it a more cerebral slant on the strategy game, Senior Producer Mathieu Girard stressed that they were tired of the current range of 'click fests' that sit on store shelves, and instead approached development of this World War II battleground from the view of a Poker fan.
All of these themes, quite interestingly, complement one another more than you might think. In a Poker match, you keep your cards close to your chest from the other players - but in order to effectively make the play, you have to ensure that certain bits of information about your hand is common knowledge, leading your opponents to call your bluff. The same is true of R.U.S.E., in that you can see your enemy's position and general activity, but there's still an element of risk involved when it comes to make your play.
The Allies (blue) try to sneak through the town, undected by the German troops (red)
For example, you could build an army of tanks, notice the opposition has a group of resource factories and fancy taking them out, thus crippling your enemy's funding. But what happens if you do that and the factories turn out to be fake? Red herrings - a set piece that leaves your side open to attack. If that happens, then you just fell foul of a R.U.S.E..
The IRISzoom Engine technology allows you to zoom anywhere and focus on any details. We're waiting for fully panned-out, aerial screens that demonstrate the awesome scaling.
One of the defining features of this game is the sly use of deceptions during battle. When you zoom the map out at its furthest point, the field is split into segments - each segment can only hold one R.U.S.E., but you can combine different ones together to formulate a truly dastardly strategy. As an example, Girard showed how you could place Radio Silence on one side of the map to hide your troops, and dupe depots on the other to lure the opponent. Once the enemy sends their biggest and baddest over, you can launch your assault into the gaping hole in their defence.
This doesn't water down the RTS experience though, as the rest of the game on a more intimate level plays exactly like a regular strategy title. Zoom in closer on the map, and you can build factories, train foot soldiers and engineer tanks to overcome your enemy. The only resource in this game is money, which can be obtained by building depots that hold your cash. The closer you construct buildings to your main base, the faster they will be finished, but that comes at a cost to the convenience of having troops ready to hand.
Zoom to the ground to place with finesse the right units to win epic battles
You can even use tanks to blockade roads to enemy depots, suffocating their funds and tactfully forcing them to change their game plan. In total there are three zoom levels, including the land layer to micro-manage infantry, the fully-zoomed out layer that exclusively handles your R.U.S.E.s, and a medium layer that allows you to see aerial fleets and oversee the action in full view.
The zooming occurs in real-time, and uses an impressive new rendering engine called Iriszoom - because maps that appear small when zoomed out can actually become miles in length at its closest layer, many maps are reported to require roughly one billion polygons. That's just for the environment. As a result, Girard explained that the studio had to reinvent how they programmed the AI and designed the maps; else the sheer size of it all would prove too arduous.
The result is one of the most rapid, impressive rendering technologies we've seen in modern PC gaming, that's likely to have the crowds at GDC frothing later today.
Artilleries have the ability to shoot from a long distance range. The orange arrrows show the distance range whereas the target allows to see if the attack will be successful or not at a glance
Add a damage system that's more akin to a first person shooter than an RTS (instead of HP, units recover damage over time when moved out of enemy fire) and you have a game that really tries to redefine the speed and mental agility required for the classic PC war strategy. It's certainly piqued our interest, but we didn't get to actually play the game. Which was probably for the best, as the demo we were shown crashed about three times. It's looks really fluid and interesting enough to warrant a look when it's released later this year on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.