Eugen Systems isn’t new to the strategy genre. Their first title, Act of War: Direct Action, released in 2005 to critical success. It’s been five years, and now the developer returns with their second strategy title, R.U.S.E.
Right out of the box, it’s clear that R.U.S.E. is a well-presented, polished RTS. The graphics are sharp, and the sound is spot on.
R.U.S.E. (PS3 [Reviewed], PC, XBox360)
Developer: Eugen Systems
Release Date: September 7, 2010
One of my favorite things is the zoom feature. If you zoom in close, you’ll be able to watch individual soldiers or vehicles that are carrying out your commands. That’s not all that new. However, when you zoom out, you can back all the way up to a strategy map / sand table view that actually looks like a map sitting on a table in a headquarters building somewhere.
Set in World War II, R.U.S.E. puts you into the shoes of U.S. Army Major Joseph Sheridan, who leads troops in theaters from Africa to Germany. Basically, you’re trying to track down a spy called Prometheus who’s feeding intelligence to the German army. There’s a story here, but don’t let it distract you. It’s no Pearl Harbor.
The first mission will tease you, because the scale it encompasses is awe-inspiring. Don’t get used to it, as you won’t see this again until much later in the campaign. Once that first mission ends, you enter a flashback to your time in Northern Africa.
Through several missions, you’ll slowly build up the units you have access to, as well as unlocking the game‘s central mechanic, Ruses. Ruses are basically intelligence strategies that allow you do things like eavesdrop on enemy communications, reveal enemy units in hiding, speed up your units, and even encourage your enemies to retreat.
Choosing the proper Ruse is basically the key to success. Choose wisely, and you’ll win most of the time. Choose poorly, and you’re going to struggle. Early on, you’ll be likely to fail the mission outright, as you just don’t have the units to recover from a strategic error until you’re able to start building your base in later missions.
I found that the best way to get the feel of R.U.S.E. at its best was to jump into a multiplayer skirmish. Having access to the full complement of Ruses gives you a lot of strategic options, and the game has a nice pace. It’s a little slower, but the pacing still works. Units move slow, building up resources is slow, and constructing units is kind of slow too.
However, this all works together well. It even builds the tension as you frantically try to rebuild defenses you lost in the last attack as your Ruses reveal the enemy creeping across the field of battle to finish you off.
Long time strategy fans may dislike R.U.S.E. at first glance, because many of the features that are missing in R.U.S.E. that are common in other strategy games. For instance, selecting units and giving them an order de-selects the units. Furthermore, there is no option to group units together under number keys as you can in other RTS titles. This can sometimes make unit management difficult to deal with.
I would assume that part of this is due to the fact that the game is designed for multiple platforms, including support for the PlayStation Move. As I was playing it on PC, I was unable to test this. I think this would account for many of the features that PC RTS players are used to seeing.
R.U.S.E. isn’t a bad game. It’s not a great game, but it is good. It’s slow to start, and it’s slow paced all the way through. The Ruse mechanic does bring some nice strategic options to the table, but R.U.S.E. is still the simpler version of some other RTS titles in the genre. It’s a good-looking title that can even be fun when the clunky unit management doesn’t get in the way.
- Ruses are an interesting mechanic.
- Cool zoom feature.
- Above average graphics
- Lethargic pacing.
- Poor unit management controls.
- Unimpressive story.