Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Art Of Real-Time S.T.R.A.T.E.G.Y.

The RTS genre had become pretty much saturated for some time now. The addition of more on-screen units and richer environments (with the consequent increase in hardware requirements) did little to invigorate it. In R.U.S.E., although you will recognize several classic RTS components, they are skillfully combined together and blended with a number of new ideas so that the end result seems fresh and innovative.

To say that R.U.S.E. was over-hyped would be an understatement. Nevertheless, it is one of the rare games that manages to live up to its hype and deliver hours of solid fun and enthusiastic immersion.

Strategic placement of your units will determine their line of sight and their range - but also their vulnerability to enemy units. Concealment and ambush are essential parts of the gameplay. For a game that presents units as oversized board-game tokens when zoomed out, battlefield realism is kept high with vehicles permitted to move only on roads (and thus cannot claim the advantage of higher ground) and nested units having to either be pummeled with artillery or circumvented in order to advance. Unlike tactical decisions, resource gathering has been simplified and kept to a minimum.

However, the real strength of R.U.S.E. lies elsewhere. What you will enjoy the most are, well, the...ruses. Whether you create a spectral decoy army that will divert the enemy or ask Bletchley Park to break his communication codes for you to be waiting for his units at the right location, those battlefield ruses are what make this game so great and immensely replayable.

Now, the good news is that UBISOFT has finally abandoned the idiotic DRM used in their latest games which required an always-on connection to their servers to play your game. The bad news is this game comes with mandatory OnLine STEAM activation, which makes it a piece of rentware it never becomes yours. This is what prevented me from giving this game full marks. Whether this bothers you or not, you can now make an informed decision.

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