R.U.S.E. is a fun and fascinating real-time strategy game, as long as you know which parts of it to invest in and which to skip entirely. It prospers in the competitive arena, putting an intriguing use of bluffs and reconnaissance to good use on expansive maps that will test your ability to control the battlefield. Offline, you get some mileage out of its single-player skirmishes, but where R.U.S.E. falters is in its plodding, poorly paced campaign. Bizarre character models and bad writing prove distracting, while too-frequent story intrusions interrupt the flow of missions just as they start to get interesting. But the clumsy campaign aside, R.U.S.E.'s unique mechanics lead to tense and enjoyable standoffs in which, literally, things are not always what they seem.
6275790Tanks alone don't win a battle.None
One of R.U.S.E.'s finer aspects is its ease of use, which makes it approachable for both newcomers and experts alike. When you zoom all the way out, you see the entire battlefield as if it's mapped on a general's strategy table, where units are depicted as stacks of chips. If you zoom in, you can watch and give orders to a single infantry squad or individual tank; if you zoom out, nearby units are grouped together into single stacks, which isn't just a neat effect because it enables you to command large groups of units with a single button press.
Using a standard Sixaxis or Dual Shock 3 controller, it's absolutely simple to scroll across the map, issue orders, and queue up additional units. R.U.S.E. also supports the PlayStation Move controller and supplementary navigation controller, which allows you to point at the screen to select units. Unfortunately, this alternate method of managing battles is far inferior to using a standard gamepad. To zoom in and out, and to rotate the camera, you hold the T button and maneuver the Move controller, which is much less precise than using an analog stick. Furthermore, the placement of the main buttons for selecting multiple units at once and bringing up the order interface make using the motion controller somewhat awkward. The requirement for you to keep pointing the controller at the screen at all times, even during cutscenes, further rubs salt in this wound; should you rest your arms during a cinematic, the game will pause the scene and tell you to move the controller back in range of the camera. For the best experience, stick to a standard controller and forget playing R.U.S.E. with motion controls.
Team battles can be a blast.
There's a certain simplicity to R.U.S.E. that may at first turn veterans off; there are limitations to where certain structures can be built, tech upgrades are very elementary, and you can't set up patrols or assign units to guard others. But once you get wrapped up in the game's more unique attributes, you discover that this RTS isn't as simple as it first appears. It mixes up the standard real-time strategy model by employing ruses, which are special skills that allow you to fool your opponent or reveal his or her secrets in a variety of interesting ways. Maps are divided into segments in which you can activate these ruses, and there are limitations to how often you can use them and how many can be active in a particular sector at a given time. Games are won and lost with these ruses. Perhaps you will send in a squad of decoy ground units so that you can distract your opponent's front lines while you attack from the rear. Or maybe you would rather send bombers to attack an oncoming prototype tank from the skies after activating the terror ruse, which causes enemy units to rout much more quickly than normal. There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction in seeing your plans come together or in foiling your adversary. Hide your buildings from view and spoil the opposition's attempt to destroy your airfield. Use radio silence to sneak antitank defenses and artillery into firing position and then use your spies to unveil their units. Ruses open up possibilities you've never seen in a strategy game before, and it's a blast to create new ways of playing on the fly just to see where they lead.