R.U.S.E. Review

The RTS genre is possibly one of the most malleable of all game genres. While the basic idea of commanding units in a real-time environment remains the same, different titles will show their own unique spin on the genre, either allowing you to command units on a planet-wide scale as in Supreme Commander or in a 4X environment like Sins of a Solar Empire.

R.U.S.E., Ubisoft and Eugen Systems’ newest title, takes the RTS genre and combines it with board-game sensibilities, crafting a game that looks and feels like you’re playing Axis and Allies with your buddies around the dinner table, but everyone is moving their units at the same time. It’s fast, fun, and massively competitive and addicting.

They key to R.U.S.E.‘s gameplay is how simple and streamlined it is. There is only one resource for you to manage and there are only so many open supply depots on each map for you or your opponent to capture. Buildings are built immediately upon arrival of your engineering truck at the selected site, so the closer to your HQ, the faster things get built. Units are built almost instantly as well, with only high-power units like tanks and AA guns taking any significant time to complete. This all combines to make for a game that relies more on quick thinking, deception, and bold tactics. This is where the R.U.S.E. cards come in.



These special cards will cause certain effects on the battlefield to either help yourself or trick your opponent. Different cards will cause effects such as hiding all your units within a particular sector, showing what commands your opponent has ordered, or even creating wood and cotton decoys to trick the other player into thinking you have a much more sizeable army than you actually do. These will be the base of all your strategies and open the game’s mechanics to some very interesting and exciting possibilities. You can play a card creating a fake tank battalion to encroach on the enemy base, watching as they scramble to intercept, all while sneaking a smaller, more powerful squad to assault the base as your opponents chase your decoys. This of course is just one strategy, but Eugen Systems has thought out the cards and their effects very well, making sure no card has wasted or worthless strategy potential.

Games become a mad dash for resources, territory posturing, and full-on deception. Battles are tense, game-changing fights, and the mere sight of a scout plane over your base can lead to bluffs and critical knowledge being obtained. It kept me engaged completely in matches that I played, questioning every enemy unit I saw, while building my own ruses to spring on my opponent.

R.U.S.E. has a wide range of modes in which to test your strategic mettle. Campaign mode tells the single story of Jim Sheridan, a US army commander looking for a spy named Prometheus who is feeding vital information to the Axis. While this is a departure from most WW2 stories, the tale itself is a bit uninteresting. It’s a paper-thin way to string together massive battles, and there is a dichotomy between the large-scale battles and the game’s narrative. It doesn’t help that the cutscenes are poorly animated and the character models look like walking toy dolls.

Operations Mode gives you different scenarios that play out like RTS puzzles. Some ask you to capture a base using only air units, while others allow for co-op play and have both players coordinating attacks to succeed. Skirmish Mode has you fight on different maps against any number of the six factions in three of the time periods the war encompasses. Both modes are great fun, with Operations forcing you to think outside the box and Skirmish placing you directly into quick matches to test your skill.


The multiplayer is well built too. Eugene Systems has provided numerous tools and stat tracking to give competitive players plenty of numbers to mull over and obsess over. Tournament standings, leveling, and stats for every match type are all catalogued here. Combine that with full Steamworks integration, and R.U.S.E. proves that it is serious about giving you a competitive experience if you so choose.

The presentation is one of R.U.S.E.‘s standout features. Its zoomed-out, board-game visuals mesh well with the high-res close-up view. Switching between views is seamless and easy, looking stunning the entire time. The music strikes a good balance between thumping and valorous tempos, conveying the mood of a WW2 film well. It’s all wrapped up in a stylish menu and clean UI that just makes everything feel modern and easy to use.

However, I feel that ease of use leaked over a bit too much in the controls. In an effort to make a control scheme that would work well on the consoles and PC, Eugen Systems made a few tweaks to unit selection that can cause some frustration. You can select all of a certain unit by double clicking and can even combine different units into one platoon to make commanding easier. This idea is perfect for consoles, where precise selection can be troublesome. The problem is most prominent on PC, as it becomes an annoyance to separate those units that you have combined or to remove individual units if you want to make more platoons. A careless double click will also select all your tanks, for example, causing more frustration.

R.U.S.E. is a fresh, fun, and fast new take on the strategy genre. The board-game philosophy combined with a competitive feel makes for a game that feels different, but still makes sure that RTS junkies will find it familiar.

4 out of 5


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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