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R.U.S.E. The Art of Deception


Some Serious Strategery!
Real Time Strategy is a gaming genre that has never really flourished in the console space, mostly because adapting the extensive control scheme to a simple controller is difficult to do for developers. Eugen Systems through that they would try their hand at that task with R.U.S.E., a World War II based strategy game published by Ubisoft for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (also on the PC). The narrative in R.U.S.E. follows two military careers; Major Joesph Sheridan of the United States Army and General Major Erich Von Richter of the Wehrmacht. Each half of the story builds to a climax of sorts, but the presentation is hampered by a script filled with clichéd writing and relatively poor pacing. While the presentation looks great in action, we aren’t seeing anything new compared to the endless supply of World War II games for either console.



But the meat of the game is really the real time strategy design. Battles are emphatically strategic and designed for the player to spend hours mulling over artillery strikes, flanking soldiers and the inevitable push of tanks upon tanks. The player has the ability to zoom in and out of the battlefield, from directing groups of soldiers to repositioning entire squadrons in the overall map view. The game takes you all over Africa and Europe over the years.

A quirky wrinkle to the game comes in the form of the ability to spy on the enemy. You can send operatives into enemy territory to report on troop movements or create a distraction. You can also intercept your rival’s communication to gain valuable information about their strength and position or perhaps lead them into a well-laid trap. The entire system is handled by R.U.S.E. cards which have a time limit regarding their use. After choosing a card, you apply it to an area of the level that you want to gain information about.



Surprising to me, R.U.S.E. actually has a fantastic control scheme. If you want to select a group of soldiers around, you simply direct the in-game camera to its position and move the on-screen character to a new section of the level. Opposite from nearly all RTS games, there’s no on-screen pointer to highlight troops or machinery. This is likely due to the use of the Playstation Move as an alternative controller. I was unable to review the game with the Move controller (as it’s not currently available yet), but the concept is pointing the controller at the screen to pick something.

Graphics

  • There’s two sides to the visuals in R.U.S.E.; the polished cutscenes and the smooth, but graphically inferior in-game engine. The reason that the game runs so smoothly is likely the low resolution textures used on the battlefield. The caveat for graphic engines with any RTS game is having the ability to zoom in and scale the quality in the visuals. R.U.S.E. doesn’t do a great job of that and there are texture loading issues as well. On the flip side, the visuals in the cutscenes look fantastic.



Audio

  • The script for R.U.S.E. is chock full of all the overused clichés from every World War II game you have ever played. Voice actors rely on slang and brash temperament rather than a quality piece of writing, Brits, Yanks, etc… The voice actors perform the material perfectly fine; it’s just a boring narrative.

  • The score is much better by comparison, complete with the typical style of moving, battlefield tunes. The sound effects are authentic to the field of war as well. Incoming artillery strikes warn you of Axis fire and the human-manned machinery is equally as powerful.

Conclusion

This really just boils down to if you enjoy RTS games and the methodical level of pacing that comes with the genre. This is the first RTS game on a console that I have been able to tolerate. I typically get frustrated with RTS games due to complicated control schemes or terrible user interfaces, but R.U.S.E. seemed to handle it easily. While the narrative is clichéd drivel, the actual gameplay offers a solid amount of entertainment value; both in single and multi-player. Pick up R.U.S.E. if you are a big fan of strategy games and are looking for something a bit different on the PS3.

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