Another RTS game attempts to break into the console market, but this time the Playstation Move is supported and the sometimes frustrating lack of a keyboard and mouse has been addressed. Ubisoft’s R.U.S.E takes the popular PC genre and streamlines it to the point where some might even find a RTS game playable on a console. Given the history of these types of games in an unwelcome area, it’s really no surprise motion controls could be the answer.
The game does a good job of showing you the ropes of the core gameplay and explaining how to utilize your units for a good part of the first few levels. Once you get into using the different ruse capabilities, like scanning a section with a spy ability to find out detailed information, you start to get a better feel for the game, but it for some reason doesn’t feel effective until you get into the longer campaign scenerios. Even after learning the build and upgrade functions later in the game, you never really are given a clear picture of how to defeat enemies. I always felt like I was doing more trial and error, with more error, and trying that section of the level over again until I realized what exactly the game wanted me to accomplish. The good part is, if I did fail a particular objective, I wouldn’t get pushed back to the start of a particular mission, and it would be put me back at the last checkpoint. Although, once defeated or failed, I was given the option of quitting or restarting the level at the beginning if I so desired.
Even without an available Move accessory, on the PS3 version, the controls in this game are far from broken and have been simplified enough to keep even the most novice of RTS players (myself included) interested and progressing through some intense battles that can easily last hours on end. With the standard controller, you move around the map and zoom in/out with the analog sticks and can quickly select units or a group of similar units with the push of a face button. Once selected, you move a ghost image of your selected unit around the map until you find a worthy opponent. Selecting to attack them is without worry, because you’re instantly given a clue right away just how much of a challenge it will be for your currently selected units. You’ll see an indication just how tough the skirmish will be, with easy or danger markers displayed above them. Of course, these are only recommendations, as you are more than welcome to send ground troops to their doom by advancing toward a pack of heavy tanks.
The Move controls work rather seamlessly, and don’t feel shoehorned into the game. You use the Move controller much like a mouse and point at the camera to select your units and select attack or movement commands for them. If you have a navigation controller, bringing up the menu and making decisions can be somewhat easier, but if not, quick motions to the sides can be pulled off with little effort. Like other games that utilize the Move controls, units can be easily identified by the color of the light that the controller’s ball illuminates.
The graphics look good, but felt a little dull with the realistic color palette of a war game. This may pale in comparison to other RTS style games that usually are filled with bright, vibrant colors and just come off as a more interesting environment to do battle in. The graphics are most impressive when you utilize the zoom functions in the game. Zooming in will get you up close and personal with the action. Although you won’t be controlling the exact actions of your units, you will witness the command you have issued being carried out with debris flying and weapons being discharged. As you zoom out from the action, the units get smaller and eventually turn into colored markers, giving you a broader sense of the scale of the battle happening around you. Green and Blue markers signify your troops and allies, while the red markers are clearly enemies. Zoom all the way out, and you get an view of a table in some kind of military setting that reminds me of something used to plan attacks or defense strategies during war.
The cut scenes are really well done with nice animations and detailed characters, while the voice acting gives you a pure sense of a military drama. The sounds in the game are just what you would expect with explosions and artillery going off and a light soundtrack that keeps the flow of the game steady. From the amount of detail put into each model on the battle field, to the carefully selected dialog spoken while telling the story, it is pretty obvious the game wasn’t just thrown together and some graphics and story mashed on top of it. Those that are into this genre and can appreciate a good war story will feel right at home and will appreciate the effort the developers put into making this game look and sound the way it does.
This game is really designed for RTS fans, and just like other RTS games, once you really get a good feel for the game, you’ll get hooked and want more. You’re given a few single player difficulty settings that will keep the offline player busy for a while. There are modes set aside with multiplayer in mind and competitive multiplayer maps that will give those looking for a more humanesque challenge a reason to practice the single player modes more thoroughly. The multiplayer modes aren’t really more difficult, but the players in the matches are really, really good. This could be simply because of poor strategy on my part, as I rarely come out of a multiplayer match in any RTS game without getting pummeled.
Overall, I still had fun playing this game and wish all RTS games had this level of ease of entry. I was able to jump in and learn the mechanics of the game and feel good about successfully defeating an enemy against seemingly overwhelming odds. I still probably won’t get much more into RTS games on any higher level, but RUSE is definitely a good starting point into the genre, especially if you’re looking to break in on the consoles.
*Ubisoft provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy on the PS3 platform.