This is a game I have wanted to do a Steam Sale review for quite some time. R.U.S.E.
If you haven’t heard of this game, that’s not surprising. This game remained under the radar for quite some time as an RTS. At fault for this was Company of Heroes which was releasing it’s final expansion pack at roughly the same time. This game is a port from PS3 and Xbox 360 so much like Tom Clancy’s EndWar do not expect insanely fast gameplay.
I bought this game for the wicked discount of $4.99 at 90% off on Black Friday.
Fast History of WW2
The main character of this fiction is General Joe Sheridan whose name might ring a bell to you if you know anything about WW2. The General Sheridan TANK is after all one of the best light recon tanks to be developed in the war. But yes, the remainder of the game and this character is entirely an act of fiction.
The game starts in the real battle Kasserine. Kasserine was commanded by Montgomery on the British side and Patton on the American side against Rommel. Kasserdine was considered by many as the allies first push into Europe. By capturing Africa they opened up the Mediterranean to quickly wipe out Italy and establish an Italian-Austrian front. The battle was one by well placed anti-tank positions and excellent recon information. Patton was rewarded an extra star for his victory.
The invasion of Italy follows Montgomery’s plan. Patton is forced to undermine ‘Monty’ and make an amphibeous landing in Northern Italy to quickly capture Italy and cut off German forces from retreating. The conquer of Italy was a large endeavor requiring allied forces to climb over mountains and through swamps to get to the objective. While Monty pushed the main army back Patton cut off their retreat in one of the most brilliant field decisions ever made. The captured Italian forces would eventually be redeployed to defend the Italian front against the Nazis to free up resources for the conquer of France. Opening up this front stretches Nazi forces even thinner. The battle in Italy would rage on for most of the war as Nazis constantly send forces to remove the Allied threat.
With the capture of Italy they are able to take over Italian arms and machines to secure the zone. Lesser known is that American and British forces take this time to secure the territory now known as Yugoslavia and attempt to install General Tito as a potential ally against the Germans (not in the game). This key victory allows allied forces to gain advanced guerilla fighters who will undermine the Germans and later Russians without having the allied banner shown.
The next major invasion is the D-Day invasion. This is a major undertaking involving the co-operative efforts of the British admiralty, British and American armies, British regulars, Irish regulars, Canadian regulars, Australian regulars, Royal Air Force, and American elite paratroopers. Ironically this 5-beach 5-flank landing would not be the highest costs of the war. The beaches are all taken but objectives are not met.
In the South Canne is not captured which slows the advance. Omaha Beach was supposed to secure a town under the orders of Montgomery however Montgomery’s field commanders are able to puncture through forcing a plan to shift forces around. They eventually create a beach head to launch a major invasion, but far slower than expected. Because of these delays the allied forces are forced to create a new plan for the invasion of Europe.
The next major operation is Market Garden. Montgomery’s plan was to avoid the Siegefriede line by moving through the Netherlands. This plan involved massive air cover and the efforts of almost half of the allied forces. The Nazis were however prepared and had many hardened fortifications all along this pass. As well there were many guerilla fighters and tanks avialable. If D-Day is the second highest fatalities in the war…. this was the third. The whole plan went astray and although they secured the Netherlands and won the battle, they lost the more important objective… entry into Germany. The Germans burned down all of their bridges, alienated entire regiments and blew a quarter of the combined Allied forces to bits. The loss of troops was massive and worst yet this forced the allies to find an alternative route into Germany…. through the Siegefriede line.
The American forces would inevitably beat through the Siegefriede line and push into Germany. However because of the winter they were hampered and forced to make camp. During Christmas all of the British commanders decided to return to Britain to be with their families. Patton however smelled something funny and prepared defenses on all flanks of attack. He successfully defended the entire invasion efforts and stopped the Germans from once again slowing down the assault. This successful defense decimated German forces which inevitably caused the Russians to be able to push deeper into Europe. These forces were after all pulled off of the Russian flank.
The largest loss in WW2 comes slightly after this engagement. The entire British army and an American tank army are stuck up North beyond Patton’s lines. Montgomery ends his Christmas early as Montgomery and Patton bravely venture North to save these poor souls. The entire British regulars surrenders out and an American tank army is brought to pieces. While the British offer a surrender the Americans won’t go down without a fight. A parlay is called where when the American commander was asked to surrender he simply responded “nuts.”
The British regulars and American tank army push past all odds to save these men and restore this army. This impromptu battle decides the final ends of the war. Slightly after this defeat the Germans surrender. The Russians not believing in Christmas have pushed deep and are now entering Germany.
After Christmas it was a race with the Russians for who could capture the most territory. The Russians and Americans met up in Berlin where as per capturing the Allied forces would gain control of Western Europe and Soviet forces would control Eastern Europe with the city of Berlin being the dividing line.
This would be the setup for one of the longest periods of peace Europe has ever seen.
The game goes through all of these battles individually and puts a twist on them. You are Joe Sheridan. You start off with the rank of Colonel in Africa. As the highest ranking American soldier you take control of the American forces. You advance slowly to the rank of 3-star General and end the game at the Russian-American peace in Berlin.
This may sound familiar because this is the exact same time frame that the entire Company of Heroes series brought you through.
While Company of Heroes tells real stories recounted from real soldiers, R.U.S.E. is a complete work of historical fiction. Because of this R.U.S.E. is able to tell you a tale you would not expect and one that is interesting with many twists.
With you (Joe Sheridan) is a British colonel who acts as your right hand man and chief of your staff. This British colonel keeps the rank of colonel until the very end of the war. This is not something uncommon during World War 2. For the sake of the war many officers will maintain their rank and position to support their champion general. General Bradley for example stayed as a simple 1-star general under Patton until Patton was discharged in Italy. After that Bradley became the joint head General for the D-Day invasion and greater invasion of Europe. By staying under a general it gives these individuals insight into their sense of tactics so that when that general dies or the war is over they can take over that position (or a greater one like Bradley).
The game focuses on two main feuds.
The first feud is internal and is between Wetherby and Joe Sheridan. General Wetherby is an incompetent individual who basically loses every major battle in WW2 on behalf of the British. However no matter what Wetherby is given the grace of command and is given whatever resources he needs to win the battle. Sheridan thinks very little of this second fictional character and slowly rises above him. Wetherby is constantly getting in the way of progress and is constantly given high profile jobs alongside Sheridan where he inevitably fails. Most noteable is the winter defense where Wetherby surrenders and Sheridan declares “nuts.”
The second feud is between Von Richton and Joe Sheridan. Von Richton is modeled after Rommel and he is a tank commander who much like Rommel is a military genius. Richton is able to beat your moves before you make them and looks at the world like a chess game. Their feud, unlike that of Wetherby is not a personal feud. This feud is instead based on a more intellectual competitive basis. If Sheridan was Kobe Bryant, Wetherby would be Shaquel O’Neal and Richton would be Michael Jordan.
The main plot line focuses around a triple agent named Prometheus. Prometheus is a Greek Titan who steals fire from the gods and gives it to man. He instigates a war between Persia and Greece so to increase his own favor and aid him in his battle against the gods. Prometheus is mischievous and plays all sides.
In a similar way Prometheus is stealing secrets from the Americans to prolong the war. Prometheus is decidedly anti-American and helps fuel the fire on continuing this war. The colonel is constantly indicating that their is a spy but you (Joe Sheridan) are always looking the other way abuot it.
A snake is introduced in the form of an American intelligence officer who was successful in crafting Wetherby into a pompous jerk. As Wetherby’s star is falling she joins up with Sheridan and influences his decisions. These decisions revolve around over-confidence in the battle field causing Sheridan to lose many key battles. Everything she says is dishonest and deceptive. When she leaves it is clear that she just may be Prometheus. The game is constantly throwing you twists about who Prometheus is and why he is doing it.
The game features roughly 20 missions and 6 scenarios with the original copy of the game. It also features a multiplayer that is still commonly used. The game also features a full RUSOPEDIA that will give you answers to any question you will have. I should note that the scenarios are by no means historically accurate and are designed for replay. They will have multiple objectives of which are not all obtainable. Each side objective you complete will grant you extra experience.
The game does feature an active leveling system. The campaign will get you to Level 26-30 depending on how well you do. Each scenario will get you about half a level per win. Level doesn’t seem to have too much of an impact on the game other than to indicate your level of experience with the game.
The game features in a methodical and slow fashion. The game was designed to be played on PS3 and Xbox 360 and so unlike a lot of RTS games like Command and Conquer or Starcraft this game features a supreme use of tactics. The game gives you a direct feeling of being a WW2 general. If you zoom out all the way you will see the edges of a planning board and see the hands of generals commanding. If you zoom in you will see artillery shells fired and men dying in the battlefield.
The game focuses around flanks. Much like World War style you are playing a game that is defensive in nature but promotes aggression.
Infantry are best deployed in the forests and in the towns. They gain cover from vision here and gain a “surprise” bonus that will aid them in eradicating nearly any enemy.
Recon vehicles can be deployed to find infantry in the woods and towns to remove their surprise bonus. These vehicles are necessary for success since small numbers of infantry can do insanely high damage if left unchecked. By adding recon on with your tank numbers you will be able to easily deal with surprise attacks.
Tanks are best deployed against infantry and structures. Their heavy armor prevents infantry fire from hurting them and their heavy rounds can destroy buildings. These armored units can also take mean hits from other tanks and artillery.
Anti-tank units are used to destroy tanks and only tanks. Tank fighters are tanks themselves that are extremely mobile and can only attack tanks. AT guns (anti-tank guns) have deploy time and can be deployed in forests and cities for cover and surprise damage. As a downside anti-tank weapons are very vulnerable and are very easy to destroy.
Artillery is long range attack units that are vulnerable to everything. However they can attack a very long range and soften up targets for you. It is very hard for them to destroy anything without very high numbers other than structures.
Bombers are the answer to artillery. These planes can fly in and knock out artillery easy. Bombers can also strafe infantry and soften tank targets. You need vision of the area to attack them. Scout planes can be deployed to give vision of the area. In order to defend against or assault planes you can deploy fighter planes or fighter-bomber hybrids.
A ground solution to air crafts involve anti-air weaponry. There are two types: one that can be deployed in the woods and one that is stronger and can be deployed in the open. The one in the open can also damage ground units.
So that’s all the unit types. Each is balanced around having counters and being deployed well. You will need all of these to beat an enemy. Missing one of these unit types will be dire.
Although there are six playable nations (British Army, American Army, Irish Army, French Resistence, Nazi Army, Russian Army, Italian Army). Each nation will have roughly the same units and roughly the same costs. Each however gains stronger of a certain unit type. French for example get stronger infantry. Nazis get stronger tanks. British have the best artillery.
The game is tactical in nature. This means protecting your flanks. You may need something as simple as well placed infantry and AT guns or you might need air cover and artillery support. If an enemy can break through one of your flanks it can mean a quick defeat. This is especially true since infantry have the ability to capture your structures. Once a flank is broken all an enemy has to do is initiate a blitz and push its soldiers into your bases.
This game will not be won by micro. While my Starcraft 2 micro is around 100 APM, in this game it maxes out around 10 APM. The game even records this statistic as if it was meaningful. When your units are injured the game will automatically micro them away using a weakened units feature. When there is an explanation point over their name this means they can be killed. If you have enough units on the flank they will all micro back and survive.
You need to use your units against their counters… or get slaughtered.
One final aspect to the game is the namesake of the game, your RUSEs. RUSE are deception tactic with a limited number of deployments. These can deploy odd tactics like radio silence to imply your units are not there, spying on unit positions or even creating dummy units to deploy at the enemy. Using these tactics can win games and will require your opponents to use counter tactics or field support against them.
Graphics – 8/10
RTS games are generally pretty graphically poor. So when looking at this game you have to look at it from the perspective of a franchise. Starcraft 2 has kept its graphics refreshed by making them more cartoony. This makes it so this RTS will survive the test of time.
RUSE uses realistic graphics but keeps them timeless by focusing on zoomed out mode. When zoomed out they appear as mere Risk pieces moving along the board. If you zoom out even more they appear as circles of varying sizes to indicate what sort of unit they are. By making the greater strategic mode less graphically inclined it makes this game have some serious staying power.
When you zoom in you realize quickly this game has no blood at all. You realize that the shells do not cause explosions and the trees do not burn.
If you enjoy RTS games this aspect of the game will not hinder you as you will be looking upon the greater battle field with joy.
The game does feature a large number of cut video sequences however the visuals are not exactly all that stunning. They are the same style of graphics we might have seen four years ago.
Despite this the game does a great job displaying battlefields and great controls to zoom in and quickly figure things out.
Noobie Friendliness – 10/10
Very few games to me are so friendly to newer players than this one.
When you get into the campaign you start off with infantry and AT guns. You learn about positioning and lines of fire. As you move on you learn about flanking the enemy and deploying traps. Further more it gives you a better sense of strategy and involves you in slowly bringing you along the game.
My favorite feature of the campaign is when you have to deploy a totally new unit that has a new and more complicated ordering pattern. In these missions you ONLY use this unit and you learn how to deploy it to knock out the unit it is designed to fight.
Each RUSE is given to you in a mission where having it will cause great advantage
The game is by no means easy though. Despite having simple units, simple understandings and simple breakdowns the game involves complicated WW2 tactics that will require you to deploy all of your tools. The games enemy commander Von Richton on the hardest difficulty will be able to adapt to changes you make and so there is no set pattern to win these missions… just good powerful tactics.
Opinion – 9/10
I will say I usually hate these sorts of tactical games. I find them to be slow, boring and tedious. Company of Heroes was an amazing game because capturing nodes and deploy hit teams gave it an interesting twist. Total War was a great war series because beyond the slow boring tactical fighting there was an aspect of managing your territories and choosing what territory to go after next.
But beyond this tactical games are generally terrible. I struggled to beat Liberty or Death for the SNES out of a pure need to just finish it. But Nobunga’s Ambition… I couldn’t bring myself to touch this game.
Games described as Tactical RTS just make me cringe.
But R.U.S.E. was a breath of fresh air once again. I bought it blindly not knowing anything about it mostly because it was a pretty recent release by Ubisoft (mid November 2011).
It’s hard to describe why I’m stuck on playing this game. Maybe it’s the campaign that keeps me playing constantly asking “who is Prometheus.” Maybe it is the constant aggression you fight and the need to always check in and reinforce your flanks. Maybe it’s the sense of victory you get from crushing armored columns with infantry. Maybe it’s the pure sense of joy you get out of deploying multiple teams on multiple objectives.
Yeah, it’s probably that last one.
In 99% of RTS games you just ball up all of your forces into one giant pack and defend choke points. It’s like that in Command and Conquer. It’s like that in Starcraft 2. It’s like that in Dawn of War. But in this game balling up all your forces leaves you vulnerable to artillery fire. By separating them into separate objectives you can attack and test multiple flanks.
I love how insanely punishing this game is if you don’t field the right units. If you don’t you are stuck on your ass defending.
I enjoy the ‘impossible’ missions where you are forced to take on endless waves of units defending multiple fronts against bad odds.
I like at the end of every mission it tells you the ratio of units lost to units killed and it feels great when that ratio says something like 45:1.
I love this game and I’ll be getting my friends to pick this up so we can do some multiplayer.
Conclusion – 9/10
Despite having weak graphics this game gives a new unique twist on the RTS genre that any RTS gamer will enjoy. At first you will be put off by how slow the game starts and how you won’t be doing anything interesting until around Mission 10. You will be dismayed that you are giving out less than an order per minute in many of these missions.
But as you continue to play the campaign I guarantee, the game will grow on you.
A weakness in this game I never really rated this on is the multiplayer. This game does have multiplayer and about 1,000 active players in that regard (total). It is not hard to find a game, but it is hard to get into a game. I tried hard to show what the multiplayer is like in this game but once I got a handle on it no one would let me in a game for a week. The community that has formed around this game is insanely elitist and very skilled. Out of the eight multiplayer games I was able to play I lost 1 and after that I was auto-kicked from the games for being too low level.
It is a bit infuriating and if you want to get involved in this game you should definitely get some friends to pick up this game and level up together.