The game implements this battle for knowledge in the form of ‘ruses’, hence the game title. A ruse is a special ability that you can cast at any time in the game, and will affect the particular portion of the map that it is cast on. There are several ruses to choose from that either affect your army or your enemy. For example the Radio Silence ruse will make ally units disappear from enemy radar, while another ruse will show you exactly which enemy units are advancing your way. It’s a formula that tends to work quite well, and you often feel that you really are turning the tide of battle thanks to some quick thinking. The game also implements an interesting mechanic of balancing out units – even though your enemy could be driving tanks towards your base, you can take them all out if you hide your infantry in wooded areas or in specific parts of the map so you can ambush your foes.
Apart from the ruses, there is sadly nothing else to hold your interest for very long in the game. The single player campaign takes forever to pick up momentum, and while new players will enjoy the slow pace and generous learning curve, other players would just want to ditch the training wheels and head on into battle. While you’re supplied with a decent stream of units and resources, it’s often frustrating to have to wait for so long to build up a good attack force so you can move forward. The game also has the very annoying habit of suddenly taking control of the camera, zooming over to another section of the map to show a new enemy, and then panning back to your base of operations from a different angle. This totally disrupts your gameplay and becomes extremely annoying very early on in the game. You’re also treated to ‘slide-in’ cinematics that update you on your missions or show the availability of new units. These again are a major pain as you lose valuable screen space until they slide back out again. While the game is presented fairly well in the graphics department, the cinematics are laughable, with some terribly voice acting and bad, murky character design. The soundtrack is a mashup of drill sergeant music and war themes, fading in and out as you zoom into various points of battle on the map.
Whether or not R.U.S.E excels in the touchscreen department, I have yet to see. Since I had no access to a touchscreen laptop or PC, I wasn’t able to see if the game behaved any differently when not being controlled by a keyboard or mouse.
R.U.S.E is a game for anyone who won’t be annoyed by the creeping pace, the constant in-game interruptions, and the possessed camera. It does convey the World War saga brilliantly thanks to the smart unit management and introduction of the various ruses. Even when you make the jump to multiplayer, you’re plagued by a somewhat buggy matchmaking system, though the overall game experiences is a marked improvement from the single-player campaign. R.U.S.E is at best a humble attempt to try and introduce something new to a genre that has already had plenty of current and upcoming releases to steal the spotlight.