Developer: Eugen Systems
Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Real time strategy games are having a slight renaissance at present,with StarCraft II (obviously) doing incredibly well and Cid Meier’s Civilization V just around the corner. Ubisoft’s R.U.S.E. aims to muscle in on that territory with an interesting storyline and a twist to the gameplay. Does it succeed or fall flat? Read on to find out.
[singlepic id=157 w=320 h=240 float=left]STORY: The story takes place during World War II and is split into two areas. First of all you will take control of Major Sheridan of the US Army, battling his way to get to Germany. You will also play as General Major Von Richter who is trying to uncover a traitor in the German army, whilst striving for military greatness. You will encounter other forms of military (such as the British, French and Soviet armies) along the way too.
GRAPHICS: First impressions, from the cut-scenes that kick off the campaign are quite favourable, but once you get into the actual game itself the visuals fall rather flat. You can zoom in and out, but whether you zoom the camera right in or out…it all looks rather bland, even the explosions! The actual gameplay usually takes place right after a cut-scene and it’s a nice touch that if you zoom all the way out you can just about see the war room. RTS games are never really about graphical fidelity anyway, but aside from the pretty cut-scenes the game would be best described as “average looking”.
SOUND: The sound is much better, good voice acting and realistic artilery sounds all make for a compelling experience. Zoom right into the map and you’ll really feel the sounds of the battlefield. Coupled with a typically dramtic soundtrack, R.U.S.E. doesn’t let itself down in the sound department.
[singlepic id=158 w=320 h=240 float=right]GAMEPLAY: R.U.S.E. is not meant to be played at breakneck speed but nonetheless, the opening few hours are fairly agonising. You are given a glimpse of what the game plays like later during the opening mission, but afterwards you are (game design cliche number 7) thrown “back to the start” whereby you will learn about all the units that, as you get higher in the ranks, you’ll end up commanding.
Playing for this review on the Xbox 360 it felt a little bit as though this was the wrong version to play. RTS games are obviously better suited to PC (mouse and keyboard) in most cases, but with Sony’s new Playstation Move this kind of game would seem ideal to test its accuracy as well. However, playing with a pad is adequate. The sticks will zoom you in and out and move you around the battlefield whilst the face buttons select units and action commands.
The speed of the game really will take some getting used to though, as nothing really happens very quickly in the game. The ruse’s themselves are the big draw though, consisting of Decoys (build a building to distract), Hiding things (radio silence, a key ruse) and Decryption. Intercepting enemy intelligence so you can see their next move is rather satisfying and of course gives you ability to act before something even happens. You could also send a spy behind enemy lines to find out what is happening and see what units they have awaiting you. Strategy is absolutely key (in an RTS, who would have thought it?) and making mistakes will cause you to be punished.
[singlepic id=159 w=320 h=240 float=left]As mentioned earlier, the game runs at a very slow pace that people may find off-putting especially since so much of the game is purely battlefield control. The gameplay itself is strong enough that if you want an RTS with something a bit different that does away with a lot of the traditional micro-management and puts your right in the battle, then you can probably get past the pacing issues.
LONGEVITY: The single player campaign is fairly decent in length (obviously the difficulty levels provide additional challenges) and should keep you busy, but there are also co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes that might hold some interest if you enjoyed the campaign. As with most games of this type there are also challenge modes and objective modes to give you more than just the regular campaign. Given the ruse tactics the game might be able to have legs, perhaps with a hardcore following.
VERDICT: R.U.S.E. is a reasonable attempt to bring something new to the genre. If the game can get a decent online community it should last a decent amount of time as well. If you are a lover of the genre then it’s more than likely worth checking out, but if you aren’t a fan the pace of the game alone will probably put you off.