Release Date: September 10th
Developer: Eugen Systems
Splitscreen: Yes, 2-3 players
Multiplayer: 2-4 players
( I apolagise for the current lack of screenshots. This will be fixed as soon as possible)
War is just as much about deception and lies as it as about blowing stuff up. RUSE sets out to deliver on a genre that has not had much luck on our beloved console – the RTS.
Set in the oddly familiar World War II, RUSE looks at some of the tactics used that don’t get tought in schools so often like tying wooden frames to jeeps to make them look like tanks.
At it’s core RUSE is a deeply fun RTS game, but add in its standout gimmick of being able to launch false tank attacks, create fake bases and hide buildings and you’ve got a game that often has you second, third and fourth guessing every action you take.
The single-player aspect of RUSE puts you in the shoes of Joe Sheridan as he rises through the ranks and takes part in almost every major part of the war, including the likes of Operation Market Garden and more.
It’s a large affair as well offering around 15-20 hours of gameplay to keep you going. Almost all of doubles as a tutorial as well as your constantly introduced to new units and abilities to keep you on your toes.
Some who prefer a quicker pace may be surprised to find that you don’t even get to start building bases until around 7 missions into the story.
Each mission is well designed as they force you to use tactics rather than the RTS staple of tank rushes.
It’s here that RUSE shines. Every unit feels balanced and useful. Infantry can hide in forests to ambush tanks to deadly effect. Likewise AA guns can also be hidden in forests giving a sense of paranoia anytime you must manoeuver your troops through these areas. This in turn puts heavy emphasis on using recon to scout each and every area.
It’s tense stuff, even more so when you realise that a few well placed infantry squads can wipe out an entire tank division or that an airstrike can be halted by a few well placed AA guns.
All of this leads to some truly strategic battles as you carefully plan out an infantry assault on the enemies tanks whilst organising a tank assault on their AA guns so that your heavy bombers can hit the base.
It’s also interesting to note that the entire map can be seen from the get-go. While you cannot see the exact unit a poker style chip shows whether it’s a light or heavy unit or what sort of building it is.
Of course this information is not always reliable as the Ruse cards start to enter play.
These are limited in use and can be activated in the maps different sectors (up to two in one sector) and when used correctly they can turn the tide of battle.
They range from simply such as Spies which show what units the enemy has to Ruses that show the enemies latest commands as bright arrows.
Others allow you to hide units or hide buildings.
Others can be used to create an entire false offensive using decoy units or create false building – like an Anti Tank bunker.
Learning when and how to use and combine these Ruses is vital to success and they all feel well-balanced and useful. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch the enemy scamper off to fend of some attack against a bunch of wooden tanks as you annihilate their flank.
Underneath this deceit and trickery RUSE is your fairly standard RTS.
Action fans may be annoyed to hear that it’s also a fairly slower paced affair with campaign missions often going through the hour barrier and the campaign also taking a good while to warm up.
Of course you can just jump straight into a Battle (Read: Skirmish) which lets you play against the AI on a wide selection of maps with all the units and ruses at your disposal.
Money to produce all this wonderful pain inducing machinery comes from Supply Depots which also means having supply lines to defend.
Resources in RUSE are also slow to build-up which feeds the slower pacing of the game as you must constantly secure new Supply Depots as they slowly run out.
This did cause a few problems in the Campaign. It often gave very limited supplies and RUSE is certainly no-pushover to play. This often lead to very slow advances which resulted in getting zero supplies after a while and being entirely locked down without supplies to advance forward. This is mostly frustrating when it happens an hour into a mission.
This slow resource collection also means it can be a little tricky to combat a sudden change in enemy units and tactics.
RUSE has a pretty wide unit selection to choose from. Some must be researched first and others can be upgraded. Most of the WWII weaponry is here from Spitfires to Lee Tanks and Rangers. It’s advisable to swat up on what each unit is best for and capable of.
They also use the traditional Rock – Paper style method. Machine Gun nests annihilate infantry while tanks will roll over the Machine Gun Nest.
Heavy Tanks will make short work of Light Tanks and fighter-bombers can own tanks.
RUSE is pretty unforgiving and provides a good challenge even on Medium with some irritating difficulty spikes.
It’s not all perfect though, war never is.
The controls work very well for the most part. Menu’s are all drop-down and can be scrolled through and an interesting unit selection is used where it jumps to whatever unit you’re looking at.
You can also pull back on the right stick to zoom out into a view of a battle table, the likes that Generals used to plot the war. Poker chips show units and strengths. You can then zoom all the way down to watch the action close up.
Get into the heat of a big fight however, and these controls start to crack.
The sticky unit selection can be awkward when you’re trying to select a specific unit among a few others and building units can prove to be a problem as you wildly try to navigate the array of menus to get the unit you want while wasting precious time.
The story didn’t amaze me either. Joe Sheridan is not a very likable character and neither is his chum. It revolves around Joe’s rise through the ranks and trying to find the informant sending information to the enemy.
It also lacks some of the genre’s staples which may annoy hardcore players such as a patrol function or the ability to sell buildings.
Artillery can only fire at targets and not just area attack as well.
Most of these missing features are minor and I barely found myself noticing them. But in the single-player when I found myself locked down for resources I did miss the ability to sell a building.
Ultimately though RUSE has few problems and provides a lot of value for money. The campaign is generous along with ability to play skirmish games and Operations which let you play specific moments. These can also be play in co-op.
Along with that a full suite of multiplayer options will keep you playing as all the lying and treachery become even more tense with a live opponent, especially if it’s a friend or 3.
it also comes with a large amount of maps to play as well.
Underneath the gimmick it’s a solid and very enjoyable RTS but take it as a whole and it becomes something even better.
This is one for those who enjoy a slower pace and more tactical gameplay.
+ Pulling off the perfect attack.
+ Getting some friends in to play as you bluff both in-game and over voice-chat.
+ Theres a lot of content her.
– The story. Passable but far from good.
– Getting locked down in single-player with no resources after an hour of play.
– Being owned by a tank rush because I was across the map dealing with a fake offensive.
Looks good in mid-range. Zoom in and it looks a little rough but still very good. Zoom all the way out for a view of the battle room.
Decent voice acting and some good music all help the sounds of tanks rolling across the battlefield and the fire in infantry in the woods. Some lip-syncing issues do exist though.
Passable with some decent voice acting, but it ain’t no war epic that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
A solid and tactical RTS with an added layer of deception make this something special but control issues and a few other problems stop this from getting a score of 9.
15-20 hours of campaign along with Skirmish battles, Operations, co-op and multiplayer equate to this being a good-sized game and the tactical gameplay will keep many coming back.
RUSE is easily one of the best RTS games on the console. Halo Wars still rules in terms of controls but for good, tactical gameplay you can’t go wrong with RUSE.
It has control problems but for the most part it works well and getting a few friends together is a brilliant experience.