Randal Graves: I don't appreciate your ruse, ma'am. Indecisive Video Customer: I beg your pardon? Randal Graves: Your ruse. Your cunning attempt to trick me.
Ubisoft is betting against Kevin Smith and hoping that you will appreciate its cunning attempts to trick you with this real-time strategy game that feels like a board game on steroids. Ubi announced the game at GDC earlier this year, but besides the strange Euro-trailer and a few screenshots, there wasn't much to go on. Thankfully, the publisher has released the above gameplay video that shows off the new IRISZOOM engine that powers the game -- now you can see what the game's all about.
RUSE has a very robust tabletop feel, and opens up to an impressive scale. Read on after the break to see just how the "ruses" work.
RUSE is set during World War II, and follows the main battles of the war in Western Europe and Northern Africa. The battle they took us through was part of the single-player campaign, taking place outside of Pignataro, Italy as part of the battle for Monte Cassino. The game opens with a group of military leaders pacing around a model map laid out on a square table before them. To enter the game, you zoom down through the model; you can zoom down onto a single unit, or pull back through the skies to get a bird's eye view, complete with the leaders walking around the edge of the model.
It's difficult to express how cool this looks when you're playing, but you can see a static demo of it here in the "Experience The Power of the Zoom" video. In the game, you can zoom all the way out to see groups of planes being hit by tiny bursts of flak as they drop their paratroopers, and you can follow those troopers all the way down to the ground as an individual unit. It's a scaled zoom in and out, so when you're in tight, looking at a group of tanks rolling across a field, and you then pull back, those tanks will appear larger in scale to give you an idea of where they are on the larger map. Eventually, they'll coalesce into a stack of casino-esque chips with one tank on top representing the group.
You'll issue orders to your units much as you do in any RTS game, but the twist is where you choose to use a "ruse." Ubisoft told us there will be more than ten different ruses in the game, and they range from Radio Silence, where you can turn near-invisible and sneak up on your enemy, or the Deciphering ruse that lets you listen in on enemy orders in a particular sector and find out what they're planning. Ruses are "learned" over time and you'll randomly "draw" one ruse at the start of each battle and then pick two, so it should keep the gameplay varied.
You'll play as different allied forces throughout the game, but there will be a few "twists and tricks" that will allow you to experience the other sides in the war, although they didn't let us know what those would be. Some of the other ruses we caught glimpses of were Decoys and Fake Buildings. The former allows you to build fake units to trick the enemy, and they actually have to be attacked before they are discovered. There's a simple "money" function that works in a typical RTS fashion, and you can build bases in the area in order to gain more money and upgrade your units. You'll be able to build different types of buildings and units over time.
The only multiplayer they showed us was the Skirmish mode, which has one-on-one or four-on-four gameplay in smaller battles, although they did say they are working on other modes. Everything we saw was on a PC using the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows, but the game will be out for the Xbox 360 and PS3 as well. While the inspiration is drawn from board games like RISK, Ubisoft stresses that it's not a "clickfest." RUSE is set to be released at some point during the "2009/2010 fiscal year," so we'll be looking for more info on this game soon.