Posted 2 years ago By - Mark Melnychuk
Up close, RUSE doesn’t look like an interesting real-time strategy game. To make things worse, it’s a game set in the tired territory of World War II of all places. That is, until you take the camera and start to zoom out until a battlefield stretching hundreds of miles can be seen. Then, the big picture of RUSE becomes apparent, and so does its status as a competent console RTS with an original take on the genre.
RUSE’s campaign stars Major Joseph Sheridan, a rising battlefield commander in the US army. While the storyline cinematics of RTS games usually bring a palette cleanser of intense action, all RUSE has is more strategy. Officers look at maps and debate what course of action to take next. Although RUSE’s vapid story won’t convince anyone that it’s a quality video game, the gameplay might.
The standard RTS layout is all here. Build structures to produce units such as tanks, air craft and infantry, all while making supply depots to keep the army running. The first few missions are tedious, with the game supplying only a handful of units to command. However, by the time the invasion of Normandy arrives, the large-scale tactics the game was built for take shape. The way users oversee these massive campaigns only makes it better.
RUSE’s camera is as fun to use as the first time everyone played with Google maps. Controlled by the right analog stick, it can go up close to individual units or swing far away until the battlefield becomes a literal map sitting on a table. The sounds of flying are replaced by the chatter of the war room. Stacks of multiple units start to resemble poker chips, and RUSE begins to feel more like a board game, but one still requiring quick decisions.
Plenty of information is always supplied on RUSE’s map, unless that information is a lie. Using communication traps called ruses, the game tries to set itself apart by letting players wage an information war to see who can fool the other.
A ruse can be deployed in a specific section of a map for a set amount of time. Some examples of ruses include decrypting enemy communications to see where they’re telling their units to move, or sending a decoy army to one flank of the enemy while the real one attacks the other.
The nine ruses can even be combined. For instance, equipping blitz and radio silence will let your units move faster while undetected. All the ruses are fun to experiment with and are vital to achieving victory. Realizing you’ve been duped is a nasty surprise, but it’s satisfying to pull the same scheme on someone else.
Of course RUSE is a console strategy game, so some control issues are anticipated. Arming ruses and issuing build orders are simply executed through a horizontal menu system. However, selecting units themselves is more of a chore.
There’s no option to permanently group units. Instead, pointing to a gaggle of them and pressing X is supposed to grab one specific type of unit from the crowd. This feature was problematic, and many times we were displeased to see ground troops getting selected when all we wanted was tanks. Sending the right type of units to the proper locations is key for a game which takes its strategy seriously, so the lack of a precise selection tool was a bitter omission.
Another frustration comes from every unit being automatically deselected after an order is given. For compulsive commanders who may want to alter the course of their army, having to reselect after every order is like manual labor.
The single player campaign is a beefy 25 missions long, many of which can take at least half an hour to complete. Enemy AI steadily rises to the point where a diligent amount of strategic thinking will be demanded of players. Missions against vast armies capable of pulling their own ruses can and do become a pressing challenge.
Multiplayer fails to find a way to build on the concept of ruses. All of the same tricks are available, and their affects can be shared with allies when playing team matches. What’s disappointing is the lack of any distinction between different playable nations. No special units or ruses are present to set one country’s army apart from the other. Only one game mode is available: straight up versus.
To experience anything different, users will have to turn to operation missions. These isolated campaigns exist outside the main game’s story and delve into the realm of alternative history. Germany may have never landed ground forces on the coast of England, but that doesn’t have to stop a video game.
As already said, RUSE’s most impressive visual feat is in the power of its camera. Zooming all the way down to the battlefield reveals a terrain as detailed as a train set, and for a game with such large maps the level design team should be commended. Conversely, pulling the camera out is a smooth transition into a map overview where unit positions change into tokens and the more hefty decisions can be made. The battles themselves aren’t brimming with explosive effects, however most players will likely be spending most of their time overlooking the entire battlefield anyways.
The voice acting is flat using generic WWII dialogue. During an ambush one English commander remarks: “To think, I could have been sipping tea in Piccadilly.” RUSE’s writers really weren’t trying.
RUSE is an in-depth game with a nice take on tactics that will satisfy every strategy fan. Even with the imperfect controls and average multiplayer, veterans of the genre will find satisfaction in the game’s attention to detail. Seeing RUSE appeal to anyone else is harder to fathom. The presentation is like a boring history class and the opening levels are dry. As a game, RUSE is also a victim of deception, presenting an uninteresting shell that’s camouflaging an admirable stab at making an RTS game for the consoles.
+ Ruses help set the game apart from other RTS titles.
+ Campaign length is more than adequate.
+ Multiplayer doesn’t take the same chances as the rest of the game.
+ The storyline and presentation will put you to sleep.
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Release Date : 2010/09/07
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Eugen Systems
Category : Real Time Strategy
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10