Like strategy games, but hate complex controls and resource management? Well, do I have a game for you. Welcome to R.U.S.E, a real-time strategy game that puts the art of deception and pure military tactics in the forefront.
'Eugen Systems,' the minds behind the ‘Arc of War’ PC series have finally stepped over the console world with their RTS crossover R.U.S.E. Filled with many surprises, R.U.S.E. boasts that it is the first strategy game were your fate will be determined by your ability to deceive your opposition. Camouflaging troops, setting up ambushes, and sabotaging enemy logistics is all fair in the game of war, and even fairer in the game of R.U.S.E.
Right off the bat this makes R.U.S.E. an interesting entry into the often cluttered market of RTS titles. Not only will you employ tactics of a dishonest fashion, you will also use normal tactical strategies to out battle, and more important outwit your enemies. Having something besides a rock-paper-scissors system of outranking the enemy brings something new to the drawing board, and in R.U.S.E. it is the use of ‘Ruses’ that are unlockable cards (Deception Cards) that allow you to partake in these dastardly deeds.
The cards are split into three categories, reveal, hide, and fake, which unleash a special ability when used. For example-- from the Hide pack is ‘Radio Silence’ (the German’s favourite) that lets you hide all allies’ units from the enemies in a selected area. Or from the ‘Fake’ pack, ‘Decryption’ that reveals all enemy orders in a sector. Like a fortune-teller you will have the ability combat the enemy one step ahead. Going any further would spoil the fun of finding out the rest of the abilities during the game. As they become unlocked you’ll probably be snickering as you fool your enemy, just keep in mind, they also have the ability to deceive.
Talking Never Seemed so Interesting
The narrative behind R.U.S.E. is up front and not something that is meant to be brushed aside like many other World War II strategy games. Even if they are mainly conversations, the cut-scenes in R.U.S.E. are beautifully rendered, making the mental chess match between two opposing forces of Major Joe Sheridan (U.S.) and General Major Erich Von Richter (German) that much more interesting. Without giving away too much information on this battle across Europe, it should be noted that R.U.S.E. is more interesting then you might expect.
Aside from the story driven campaign there are several maps to take on additional single or co-op challenges. These tweakable challenges are an excellent way to up your skills if you are thinking of heading online, or if you want to increase your skill level while trying out new strategies. Those who find the single player campaign a little too easy will get more of a challenge when tweaking up your own matches.
So Simple it could be played with an Atari joystick
One major concern that you are probably wondering about is how do the controls work? a notorious sore-spot for RTS games on the console. In R.U.S.E. the controls have been extremely simplified to a one pointer command prompt that couldn't be simplier. For the most part it works pretty good, although the fine selecting can be sloppy. Unlike other RTS games you don’t draw squares around you’re troops and you can’t control all the units on the battlefield. In R.U.S.E. you play as a small group of units that is part of a larger battle and controlling them is easy as clicking on a unit and telling them where to go. It is that simple, making R.U.S.E. very welcoming to untrained RTS gamers.
Zooming to the Extreme
Jumping around the battlefield is tackled by an intuitive zoom feature that lets you "zoom" in-and-out of the action, from a bird's eye perspective to a top down 3rd person vantage point. Powered by the ‘Iriszoom Engine’ R.U.S.E. lets you display the world in an unprecedented scale. Like any good General it is wise to explore all your surroundings to make sure you troops are always on the winning end of a skirmish.
When zooming, the graphics aren’t the best we’ve seen, but they work well enough. The zoom is an impressive feature, but up close it doesn't offer a great amount of detail. The environments also leave a lot to be desired, looking really bland, even with all the geographical cues. R.U.S.E. isn’t bad for a first time translation to the consoles, but you can probably guarantee the best looking version is running on some Alienware beast of a PC.
Lastly, R.U.S.E. features an online multiple component that lets you take the battle online in co-op and competitive modes. Fooling people on Xbox Live sounds like a tremendous amount of fun, too bad no one was playing the multiple times I tried to find a battle online. Since R.U.S.E. is fairly new, I hope things will pick up because R.U.S.E. could be an interesting “thinking man” style experience that can’t be found in other games, especially on the Xbox 360. Fingers crossed.
R.U.S.E. is a refreshing entry into the real-time strategy market with its overly simple control scheme, lack of resource management, and the idealism, deceive to win. R.U.S.E. might not fit the perfect mold of a real-time strategy game for the extremists of the genre, but there are plenty of hardcore RTS for those gamers. R.U.S.E. is designed for the average armchair general who occasionally enjoy putting on their thinking cap. For a first entry R.U.S.E. is pretty solid with tones of potential and a neat niche feature that no other games have. If you’ve enjoyed a RTS in the past, or loved the idea of a RTS, but not the complications, then R.U.S.E. is an excellent alternative to the normal WWII strategy game.
Gameplay:7.5, Graphics:6.5, Sound:6.5, Innovation:7.5, Mojo:7.0 Final: 7.0 / 10
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 09.27.10
Similar Games: Tom Clancy's End War (7.8)