“Don’t believe what you see”. That is the catch-phrase for R.U.S.E… Most apt catch-phrase ever.
- Worth The Time?If you’re a fan of RPGs then perhaps, but a definite no, otherwise.
- Things LovedTactical options, unique style of aesthetic.
- Things HatedVisuals, setting, boring campaign mode.
- RecommendationBuy this if you are an RTS collector and see it somewhere on sale, or if you have issues with insomnia.
- Name: R.U.S.E.
- Genre: Real Time Strategy
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
- Developer: Eugen Systems
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Price: R 270 (Take 2)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
When you take a look at the RTS genre and the various other off-shoots that borrow greatly from it, Ubisoft have been relatively successful in their endeavours, going from the excellent Myst, Anno and Settlers series to the not as excellent but still pretty good Might and Magic series as well as Endwar.
In the latter, they attempted to create a game for the console gamer, with strong RTS elements in it.
Mostly, it was agreed that they succeeded.
With the release of From Dust, just recently, they seem to be going from strength to strength, but some have already forgotten that last year, they released a title called R.U.S.E. that went pretty much under the proverbially apt radar in terms of ratings and review scores.
Let’s take a step back before getting into actually speaking of the game itself and make mention of the fact that this review has been coming for a long, long time. Indeed, we got this game for review many months ago and through a flurry of random occurrences, I ended up with the review copy — the irony being that having seen pre-release trailers of the game, I figured it was the worst game I’d ever seen — and was tasked with playing something that, honestly, I swore to never play until they got it right, after my nightmarish experience with Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2, an RTS for the console.
See, the typical console controller is relatively intuitive and easy for most games. The first person shooter, the third person action adventure, the racing title, the sports title, puzzle games. Everything works well on the controller. Everything that is, except for the real time strategy game. And it more or less makes sense. The level of precision on offer with a controller doesn’t quite translate in an RTS game.
R.U.S.E. is one of those games.
To call it a bad game because of the console-related issues would of course be silly, but it is definitely enough of an annoyance for it to influence the typical gamer, who really should have been smarter than buying an RTS on console in the first place.
The game is set in World War II, a former favourite of developers the world over, and puts you in the position of two allied forces commanders who use tactics and intelligence to outwit, outlast and outplay the axis opposition. (Person voted out of tribal council says what?)
All of this dulls down, with “dulls” being the operative — heh, the puns keep coming — word, in light of the fact that the campaign mode will put you to sleep. Seriously.
RTS fans might well be foaming at the mouth right now, thinking that I have no appreciation for a good RTS and how dare I find the game boring like everybody else who plays “jock games” when really it’s entertaining in a way that only they can appreciate… I promise you, RTS fans, even for an RTS game — a genre which I enjoy — R.U.S.E. has a campaign mode that will bore you. Don’t get me wrong, though. There are exciting parts as well, some serious adrenaline rushes are to be found, but they are so few and far between, and getting to those nail-biting sequences means you have to tank (heh) long periods of moving units across a field or building up resources, with none of the crazy, fun, exploration factor that other games employ.
That is because the game plays out on what looks, for all intents and purposes, like a topographical map in a room somewhere, albeit a dynamic one where things move about as you issue orders. You may zoom all the way out to view things as they would look in your strategic topographical layout, with units “stacked” atop each other, or you may zoom all the way in for something that looks a bit more like another RTS game would.
What it means for you as the player is that at any point in time, your entire playable area is visible to you, though some parts can be fogged. Your enemy’s units, at least in the campaign mode, will always show, though to create a bit of strategic depth they are marked as “heavy” or “light” or “unidentified” without actually going into detail over exactly what those units are until you, wait, we’ll come back to what you need to do to find out more…
For a game from 2010, R.U.S.E. actually looks quite terrible at first glance. The graphics of most RTS games released in 2010, comparatively, are far superior, though it does aid the aesthetic of the game, making things less complicated that way. The topographical map style of play lends to this aesthetic well, but it means that the game looks even worse because once you’re zoomed out enough, it becomes apparent that you’re playing a game of moving pictures and clone stamped terrain. Zoom all the way in and, well, you won’t be able to stay zoomed in for too long.
Given the game’s graphics and setting, it’s easy to assume that this game was made five years ago, shelved, and only released now with some minor touch-ups and uplay support.
The terrain itself does have variety and is actually a key gameplay element, as is expected of a strategy game but quite uniquely implemented here, where you may use shrubbery and forest areas to move units without detection from enemy forces, or you may move to higher ground or behind some object in order to decrease the amount of fire your units take from hostile units.
The key element of the game, and the thing that excuses the otherwise shoddy graphics and boring gameplay at times, is the namesake “ruses”, which act as tactical elements be they for reinforcement of units, clever ploys against the enemy, or simple intelligence reconnaissance such as radar or decryption. At first, trust me, they will suck so hard and you’ll wonder why on Earth you bothered buying this game, but over time they get better and allow for some truly tactical situations where you can show just what a genius you are when it comes to leading your enemies astray and making them look like the n00bs they are.
Sadly, the ruses aren’t enough to make this game truly enjoyable. They do give it an air of uniqueness, but it’s more a novelty uniqueness than something that redefines the genre. Or perhaps we’re just too used to similar such things in series like Command and Conquer, albeit not quite as focused and core to the game.
By the end of the campaign, having soldiered on (heh) through mission after mission of mundane and boring tasks initially and then some decidedly more interesting tasks (with a bit of mundane here and there) later on, I didn’t find myself very much looking forward to heading online, or playing through the campaign again, something that is otherwise unheard of for a strategy game.
There is the one saving grace and that is the standard custom game mode where you can set up a scenario on a map against some AI and go wild. At least, until you get bored of doing even that.
To call R.U.S.E. a bad game would be perhaps a bit too harsh. It brings some interesting new elements to the proverbial table and what it tries to do, it does adequately. Perhaps a better word would be “underwhelming” for that is what R.U.S.E. is. It’s an underwhelming RTS experience, one that while not good, certainly isn’t bad either.