Whether you were once hailed as a god in the game of Risk, or you’ve fancied yourself as a military commander stationed somewhere within the confines of a secure war room figuring out how to deploy your troops in the battlefield, you probably enjoy a good strategy game. Well, if such is the case, you’ll more than likely get a kick out of R.U.S.E., the new real-time strategy game from Ubisoft and Eugen Systems. Set amid the various front lines of World War II, R.U.S.E. brings players the tale of U.S. Army officer Joe Sheridan: a man determined to discover the identity of a nefarious German intelligence official known only as “Prometheus.”
But that’s just the game’s idea of a plot. The real gameplay here focuses on getting your troops in and out of battles in one piece. Following a somewhat lengthy introduction that provides a back story for Joe and gets players accustomed to the game’s controls (which is done with some fairly simple missions), R.U.S.E. finally kicks itself into gear. In the beginning, Joe has little more than a few foot soldiers and anti-tank guns to contend with the forces of the German Army; relying on some occasional back-up from the Allied Forces. After the first couple of (slow-moving) initial missions, however, Joe starts to gain access to new military units that will enable him to win the war (or at least, the battle). Over time, players are able to establish bases, supply lines, and even manufacture some much-needed extra tanks.
In between the cutaway segments (which tend to be about as interesting as watching paint dry, but present some pretty darn nice graphics nonetheless), R.U.S.E. presents us with a truly unique layout. The closer you zoom in to the battlefield in front of you, the more realistic it looks. Soldiers and vehicles jaunt about, attacking the enemy at your command, or retreating to a temporary safe haven while waiting for a German convoy to pass by — it’s all up to you, but even the most minor of mistakes may have you replaying the entire mission over (so choose your commands wisely). During the zoom-in mode of the battlefield, the game is alive with sound and vocal effects. Zoom out from the war zone, however, and you’ll find yourself inside of the war room, staring at a large strategy table, with both Allied and enemy deployments clearly represented by blue, green, and red markers. Quite a nice touch, really.
If you’re not a big fan of strategy games, R.U.S.E. probably isn’t for you (fortunately, there are three levels of experience to choose from at the beginning of the game, so newbies can get a taste for the onscreen adventures). The game certainly has a somewhat slow pace about it (hence the term “real-time”). Experienced strategy game buffs, on the other hand, will most likely enjoy the various options that R.U.S.E. extends to its players — such as the ability to dispatch a couple of spies into the midst of the enemy, or deciphering transmissions from the Jerries in order to beat them at their own game. R.U.S.E. is also compatible with the new PS3 Move Navigation Controller (PlayStation’s answer to the Wii Console’s popular interactive controller) just in case you’ve picked one of those up and are itching to give it a whirl.
With some great battlefield graphics, an arsenal of sound effects to keep your stereo-a-boomin,’ and a number of puzzles to keep your strategically-inclined brain ticking throughout, R.U.S.E. is a title that can make for hours of entertainment for single players or multi-play online — if you enjoy such a thing, that is. However, most non-strategy gamers probably won’t make it past the first couple of missions.
R.U.S.E. is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Language, Mild Violence, Use of Tobacco. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360 and PC.