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Deception and the art of war

Can RTS achieve anything new?

There was once a time when the real-time strategy genre received the same devoted, huge attention in the spotlight that first-person shooters continue to get today. The genre has been known for placing the player right in the middle of intense, nail-biting situations wherein he has to use his strategic eye. And more importantly, use the assets available to him wisely in order to claim victory on the battlefield. Real-time games were once praised for asking player to cleverly and smartly orchestrate and carry out certain plans to defeat the enemy.

However, noticeably and sadly, real time strategy is a genre that has now lost the huge appeal it once possessed. Personally, I feel it is because the recent RTS games seem to truly lack any true identity of their own. However, the latest exercise in the genre, R.U.S.E., being developed by Eugen Systems and published by Ubisoft Studios, seems to offer a breath of fresh air.

Unlike so many games of its ilk, R.U.S.E. seems to actually come with an established scenario and core theme. The setting is the Second World War, and nations such as North Africa, Italy and the Ardennes are all under threat by enemy bases and troops. Major Joe Sheridan, your appointed American officer, has to create his own strategic plans, sabotage the enemies and essentially pull the wool over their eyes. Yes. That’s right. The main goal of R.U.S.E. is trickery, and that is your primary goal as you help the Allies achieve the victory.

Deception-based game play

R.U.S.E. is truly deception and trickery taken to its most literal form, yet these moves cannot be used blindly. The game wants you to feel like a strategic wartime general; which move will help me observe my enemy’s actions, and, ultimately, what is the best way to deceive them. In this sense, the game is asking you to play dirty; be as deceitful as possible, but like a good strategy game, you need to be as subtle as you possibly can be.

The aforementioned deception-based game play is the integral part of R.U.S.E.’s strategy. There are three different types of ruses the player can use to trick the enemy. One type of ruse will give the player key segments of information, such as where certain enemy troops and bases are located, and another ruse type will hide some information from the enemy. With the third type you can construct false structures and buildings in order to trap your enemies.

Each ruse comes with their own specific function, but all will help you achieve your intended and ideal goal: bluff your opponent. There will be a total of ten or more ruses at your disposal to use, but the key ones will actually help you observe your enemies, their areas, and different things you can do to trick them.

One of the ruses that identifies certain information to the player is Decryption. The Decryption gives you segments of important detailed information of where certain enemy units will be located on the map. These areas will be highlighted by a red arrow, and also give you certain routes where you could use to approach these enemy units. The Spy Plan similarly will also help indicate certain enemy units, but these are ones that may be hidden and ones that may have not been spotted by your allies beforehand.

The Camouflage Net, in turn, will be useful to keep your allies’ buildings and units hidden and undiscovered by enemies. Whilst using the net itself, you can create camouflaged factories and units, and conveniently place them behind enemy lines. The net will prove to be useful as you and your team area can remain unnoticed by the enemy detection system.