Previews

RUSE gameplay preview

Ubisoft finds a new use for the RTS fog of war

RUSE succeeds on two fronts from the off. Firstly, the art style takes a lush and almost cartoon-like approach - with cut-scenes that provide a narrative to the fighting on the battlefield.

The colour palette leans towards clean solids over complicated textures and these combined make for rich and satisfying visuals.

Secondly, on the battlefield RUSE continues offers a friendly feel with a focus on accessibility - crucial for real-time strategists on console. Units can be selected individually with the A button and then directed to a point on the map or into battle with opposing units using the same button again.

Zoom

The personalities overseeing the conflict are similarly 'simple' in terms of being tinted with caricature; the Americans are young, risk-taking action heroes and the British contingent sport more than a few grey hairs, a clipped accent and an ever-level temperament.

The characters do take war incredibly seriously, though, and there's a real narrative to get your teeth into - but the general presentation seems to say: "Let's not get too bogged down in the doom and gloom shall we?" All in all, the feel of RUSE is nicely balanced.

Multiple units of the same type in the same area can be selected at once using the X button - which saves players from slipping around the board, trying to capture units in out of control squares with the analogue stick.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that the AI takes control to some extent once you've issued a command to your units. Tanks aren't just numb drones carrying out basic commands. For example, if they encounter an enemy on route to their waypoint they'll open fire on that sucker - which makes your job a tad easier.

The analogue controller is still slower and more awkward than a mouse of course, but that's not the fault of RUSE - that's just life. We can't yet tell you if its PS Move compatibility fixes that little problem.

With the Xbox pad, we found ourselves going back and forth between units across vast distances; sometimes sliding clean over the point we were trying to nab. But the Ubisoft system does its best for a format that's more suited to killing one soldier at a time in first person - and this is one of the best RTS console control systems we've seen yet.

One part of the R.U.S.E control mechanic that seems at odds with its handy approach, though, is the way units are automatically deselected once an order has been issued.

It's a small but increasingly significant quirk of the game, since it means that if you accidentally send a platoon to the wrong point on the map, you have to go all the way back to reselect your unit before you can correct the error. We can't see any practical reason why this is the case - and it does make life in the trenches a little bit harder.

Zoom

EYE IN THE SKY
Still, RUSE offers an intuitive and welcoming control design, topped with a zoom system that makes all the difference. Cursor movement is on the left analogue stick but the right controls panning and 'mega zoom' - allowing players to move right up to an individual grenadier or far out enough to see the walls of the war room they're actually commanding from.

It's similar to Supreme Commander's zoom functionality - only R.U.S.E spreads even more detail across its map. As you scroll out, units are combined and enlarged before eventually transforming into Poker chips, with the more powerful armies stacked higher and multiple units able to move together.

The ability to do this is crucial - because just like RTS leader Supreme Commander, there's a heck of a lot going on in the game world. The fact that not every opposing unit is going to impact on you in every mission is a nice touch of realism - but being able to see the whole picture is a major plus.

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