Published on September 14th, 2010 | by prime0
R.U.S.E. – Review
Summary: Polished, accomplished and genuinely innovative – a great RTS experience
There are two types of gamers out there: the first want to command entire legions towards conquering a common goal, whereas the other wants to embody the foot soldiers gallantly fighting for a noble cause. But then there’s another type too, who want to be as far away from the frontline as possible, making the really, really important decisions. This is exactly where R.U.S.E. takes place, where men don’t resemble people but tools to be utilized to take down the Third Reich during World War 2.
It’s a familiar setting for an RTS, but one which Eugen Systems has managed to make fresh and original, with a fantastic look, a story-driven campaign, historically accurate scenarios and a zoom dynamic which successfully revolutionizes the genre – with unit size-scaling as you zoom in and out. It sounds minor but this single feature allows battles to take place on a gargantuan scale.
The plot takes place just after America enters the war, with players controlling the destiny of Brooklyn’s aspiring Commander Sheridan, who quickly proves proficient at turning the tide of battle and soon becomes the Allies favorite General, which allows the maps to shift between the battlefields of Tunisia, Normandy, Leipzig and beyond – without ever feeling contrived. With well-produced FMVs, recurring characters, tensions revolving around a mole within Allied HQ and a helpful British General – who seems to be channeling Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – it’s all very well put together.
All of this drama is delivered via cinematics which book-end missions and at times also encroach on the RTS action itself, but it rarely seems like they’re encroaching on the battlefield action to any large degree. All of this extra drama would be for nothing though, if it wasn’t for a sound gameplay experience and this is where R.U.S.E. shifts from the impressive to the excellent. Much like other strategy titles, the aim is to establish a base, maintain a supply chain, and build units to overcome enemy positions, but the big difference is the sense of scale each of map’s battles take place on. Often maps will include multiple settlements, bases and other commanders.
During the main story it isn’t unusual to have several friendly Commanders dueling with enemies at the same time. It creates the illusion of a massive theater of war going on around you, and really sells the setting perfectly. The amount of polish on show is impressive, and this has been applied to the strategy’s most ambitious feature: ruses. Rather than just relying on military might, Commanders can also deploy power-ups to mess with the enemy (such as fake units), radio silence to mask your forces, deploy spies to detect units, or tap enemy communications so that their orders appear on your map. It’s a genius system which, thanks to exhaustive testing, has been perfected. Buying extra time for your forces by deploying these charged attacks becomes a real joy and something which no other RTS offers.
Unit balance is also inspired, following the age old rock, paper, scissors system. Infantry will usually fall prey to tanks, who are ruled by specific aircraft, but situational awareness is given paramount importance. Placing one single infantry unit in an ambush position, under cover of woodland, or in a town can potentially annihilate any ground-based threat and usually scenarios hinge on using units to their utmost potential, instead of just relying on a tank rush for success.
Set during World War 2, the units are mostly based on their real-life counterparts, with a few experimental units thrown in for the separate ‘what if?’ inspired scenario mode. USA, France, Germany, Italy, USSR and the UK are all playable outside the campaign and each faction’s arsenal is detailed in the Ruseopedia, which offers a short historical blurb detailing teach unit – a needless but nice touch. Along with the campaign, there’s also the Skirmish mode, where you get to test your gaming might against a range of AI Commanders, and a multiplayer mode which features co-op specific missions, as well as the ability to fight competitively against other players on 23 different maps. So we’re happy to report that there definitely isn’t a shortage of game modes to enjoy.
To date this strategy game is easily Eugen Systems most accomplished title. R.U.S.E. manages to meet and surpass expectations in all areas. It has every feature any strategy fan would want and is sure to be a massive multiplayer hit. It doesn’t quite challenge Blizzard’s crown as king of the RTS, but we’re more than convinced that it will become a fan favorite for years to come.
Gameplay innovates when required and invents entirely new mechanics which are sure to be copied in years to come. R.U.S.E. is a huge success, and offers something fresh in a genre which is traditionally plagued by tried and tested mechanics. Reward innovation and give this one a go, you owe it to yourself to check it out.