|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Eugen Systems||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 7, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
A lot of gamers have been fairly confused by R.U.S.E. over the years. It debuted as a sort of tech demo for Microsoft's tablet PC named Surface. At the time, it seemed interesting enough, but rarely did we receive clarification on what exactly the game was and how it would release. Was this a launch title for Surface? A PC game ported to Surface's hardware? Maybe it was just a tech demo. Fast forward a couple of years, and R.U.S.E.'s greatest ruse was it turned up right under our noses on several major platforms.
Now that it's here, you may find yourself asking an important question: what on Earth does R.U.S.E. even stand for? Many games have acronyms for titles, such as Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (which went by GRAW) or the PlayStation mega-hit series SOCOM (Special Operations Command), but R.U.S.E. has no discernible meaning. Legend has it that the development team liked the name R.U.S.E. and wanted an acronym title, so they decided the figure out an acronym to suit the R, U, S, and E later on in development. Well, apparently nobody ever figured out what it should mean because here we are at release without any clarification. (Though privately, some on the development team have suggested it could stand for Reveal Undermine Subvert Entrap.)
That's interesting industry scuttlebutt, but it has little importance to the actual game. So what is R.U.S.E.? It's a traditional real-time strategy game but with some unique twists. The twists, as you may have guessed, have to do with the titular R.U.S.E. This is a tactic the player can use on the battlefield to confuse the enemy or gain advanced knowledge of their forces. This could be as simple as a spy giving you detailed info on their units or as complex as a fake attack force distraction. Some of them are good fun to use, and can be helpful, while others are confusing, and generally a waste of time.
The other cool feature R.U.S.E. uses is the ability to zoom both incredibly close to the action and incredibly far away. Get in close and you'll see individual soldiers firing on one another. Zoom all the way out, and the game warps into something akin to a general's war map you might see in a film. The map doesn't show the full action but rather has big markers denoting the location of units. It's a cool looking effect to zoom in and out in mere moments. It's also useful as well. You can micro-manage your troops one moment, and then zoom all the way out to see the scope of the entire battle, adjusting your meta strategy much more quickly.
Accompany this nice feature is a solid control scheme, even on the console versions. In the console versions, it can be tough to maneuver the camera around the field, and the control stick is touchy, but it works as well as it needs to. Could it have been better? Maybe, but you wont be struggling, which is the best complement a console version of an RTS can receive.
It's important to realize, though, that R.U.S.E. is different from many modern World War II real-time strategy games like Company of Heroes. This is not a game about micromanaging units. The most complex the unit controls get is to place your infantry in the forest to give them a surprise ambush bonus to their attack power. For the most part, this is a game about moving large swaths of units with only small amounts of individual unit strategy. Though you may want to make sure you have your units in the correct formation (anti-tank units in front if tanks are approaching, for example). The real strategy of the game comes from intelligently using your ruses.
This can be somewhat frustrating though. Moving individual units can be cumbersome, and it's easy for your units to start tripping over each other in tight spaces. This means f you get taken by surprise, you can easily get annihilated with little way to remedy the situation. Much of the challenge of R.U.S.E. is in using your ruses to make sure you do not get caught off guard. This can be a challenge since your enemies seem hell-bent on being as sneaky as possible.