The PC has always dominated the real-time strategy genre. For years, console gamers have looked for a good RTS for their keyboard-impaired system. R.U.S.E is the latest strategy game from Eugen Systems, with the hopes of dashing the PC monopoly. So is R.U.S.E just another example of why strategy games belong on the PC, or is it the RTS PS3 gamers have waited for.
The game takes place in World War II. I know we all have heard the WWII story many times, but R.U.S.E. provides an interesting twist to the same story with spies, betrayals, and inept generals. Before each mission, there will be a cutscene to explain the story. Most of the time, the writing was good and the cutscenes had me interested in what was going on in the story. Sure, there was the occasional cheesy line or an awkward animation, but nothing that pulled me out of the experience. During missions, generals will talk to you and tell you about what is going on in the mission. These are scripted events, but battle conditions change often and these messages prove invaluable to beating a mission. When certain events are triggered, the game will go split screen. One screen will continue to show what you are doing, while the other screen will show a cutscene of what is going on in another part of the map. For example, it may show German tanks destroying part of a city, or allied bomber planes destroying anti-tank guns. These really give a sense of action to the game.
Next lets talk controls, menus, and ease of commands, which are all very important in an RTS. All units and buildings are created with a single pop up menu. The menu functions much like the PS3 cross media bar, where left and right navigate you to different sections and then up and down navigate within that section. It took me a few missions to get comfortable with the menu, but after I did, it became incredibly easy for me to create units and buildings, even when under pressure. I did have one issue with the controls. When you select a group of units and issue a command, it deselects them. This means if you want the same group of units to do something else, you have to scroll back to them and select them again. It was one thing that annoyed me, as I tend to be a little indecisive when playing RTS and move units around constantly.
The gameplay is tons of fun. Every mission has you looking at a table top war game style board. As you zoom out, units get larger, so that you can always see how many units you have, what kind they are, and where they are located. It’s a nice touch that comes in very useful when you are trying to manage a large group of units spread out across the map. This feature also works on the enemy units, but if they are outside your units’ viewing range, then they will show up as red poker chips.
R.U.S.E. is a very tactical game. In most situations you will only be given a few handful of units to use throughout the mission. You will need to use the units wisely and not just have them rush at enemies. In later stages where you are given buildings to build units, you will need to be just as careful. Resources are not plentiful and if you waste all your money on unnecessary units or keep getting your units killed, you will find yourself in trouble. If you send tanks at antitank guns, they will get destroyed, no matter how many you send. Sending airplanes anywhere near anti-aircraft guns will destroy your entire fleet. It’s a complex game of rock, paper, scissors and you will need to make sure you are on the winning side. You can also take advantage of the “Ruse” system. These are special perks you can deploy during the game. They range from perks that let you cloak your units, order decoy tanks, or even make your enemies run in fright. They aren’t necessary to win battles, but they can get you out of tight situations.
There are a few modes besides the campaign mode. There is Battle Mode, which is basically a free for all against A.I. bots. You can pick any map for the game and set up to four enemies and the difficulty level of each one. There is also a special op mode where you are given very specific goals. For example, you may be tasked with taking over a building without losing any tanks. Then there is the multiplayer. The multiplayer works great. It’s up to four players. You can either have a free for all or a 2 on 2 match. You also have a unified account where you accumulate points. Meaning that, whether you play campaign missions, battle skirmishes, or online matches, you will be leveling up your account. This account determines who you will fight in ranked online matches. Naturally, in ranked online matches, you only fight people who are within a few levels of your own.
R.U.S.E. is a great RTS. It may not be as robust as some of the RTS’s that are available on the PC, but this is easily the best RTS’s you can find on the PS3. If you are a strategy fan, this is an easy pick up for you. If you’re not that into RTS’s, R.U.S.E. will offer some fun, but won’t get you to change your mind about the genre.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Fun Multiplayer and Replayability