R.U.S.E. Hands-On Preview: Single-Player

A few months ago I was given the chance to try out the multiplayer component of Ubisoft and Eugen Systems’ upcoming RTS, R.U.S.E. (Check out the preview here). I came away from the game feeling refreshed and optimistic about the RTS genre again, impressed by its combination of fast-paced combat and demand for quick thinking, combined with a board-game aesthetic. The one thing I wondered was how the game would deliver a single-player campaign based on its quick pace and loose handling of the World War 2 setting.

After playing a preview build of the game’s single-player component, I can now say that my questions have been answered. R.U.S.E. will tell a focused, dramatic tale about a specific character, amid a rapidly changing.

The single-player mode places you in the boots of Jim Sheridan, a young lieutenant, who is searching for a troublesome mole who is proving to be a thorn in his side by providing vital information to the Axis. The first mission involves Jim trying to rescue his own spy from enemy clutches, before flashing back to the beginning of his career on the African front of the war.

What is interesting about the missions is how fluidly they are connected. Some missions will have you complete several smaller objectives on a single map before advancing to the next area. One early mission will have you try to push the German army back and capture their base. Once you complete this, a cutscene will play before the game throws you back on the map to complete your next mission, where you have to establish an airfield with your newly acquired base and clear the way for your allies to push into German territory. It creates this feeling of actually working towards a significant victory instead of a static list of missions that take place in different areas.

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The missions also do double duty by teaching you about the R.U.S.E. cards and what units are good for countering others. Sometimes your objectives will require you to activate a R.U.S.E. card, then present a situation in which that effect is favorable. I encountered one situation where I had to bomb an enemy HQ being protected by fighter planes that could easily shoot down my bombers. The game prompted me to activate a Radio Silence card, which hid my units, and then instructed me to assault the base, where the fighter planes could not see nor attack my bombers.

Now even though the story deals with one man’s personal tale, it’s kind of difficult to create any sort of human connection when you are commanding units that look like pieces on a game board. R.U.S.E. tries to circumvent this by using split-screen visuals during campaign missions. When a story event happens, a side panel will pop onto the screen showing a short cutscene of what is happening. It brings a personal touch to the common visual representation of two tank "pieces" blasting at each other.

I was also given a chance to try out the Operations Mode. Here, the game presents you with challenges that have preset conditions and rules for you to overcome. Think of the mode as a puzzle mode: An enemy may have units that you can’t build, but you have to find a way to counter those effectively using different units. Operations Mode also features co-op maps for up to 3 players, and I was able to play a two-player map as the British army allied with the French against Germany. It was an interesting mission because both players had access to different units and had to work together to achieve a common goal, instead of the usual RTS staple of two players having their own army. In R.U.S.E., One player may have control of tanks, while the other will need to use aircraft to bomb ground emplacements to allow the tanks a path.

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A few other features I had a look at were the RUSEpedia, a one-stop resource for in-depth details on every unit for each of the six factions, and the single-player progression system. Like in multiplayer, you have a level associated with your progress through the campaign. As you complete bonus objectives and destroy enemy units, you accrue experience, which levels you up. I didn’t see any feature unlocks associated with these, but your level is a good indicator at how well you are doing during the campaign.

So far, the single-player component is shaping up to be both a fun way to learn the core mechanics of R.U.S.E. and a personal story of a band of characters trying to win the war for the Allies. Operations Mode looks to provide a puzzle-oriented list of missions that will test players to learn new strategies and think cooperatively. R.U.S.E. is doing a lot to make sure you are well educated in all of its intricacies, while still delivering a deep single-player tale. We’ll have to see how the campaign comes together when the game is finally released on September 7th, but it’s shaping up to be one to look out for.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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