The PC demo is out! Single-player, but it will whet your whistle for the release in September!
Okay I know this is already a lost cause, I know that. Starcraft 2 has effectively killed any other game that is even remotely like it, squashing them before they even get a chance to show their colors. Like the inevitable -yet no less horrific for that very inevitability- consequence of taking your pet peacock to an industrial site.
But I want you to stop and think for a second: are you playing Starcraft 2 right now? Hell, do you maybe not even like Starcraft 2? Or RTS games? Or games at all? RUSE might be a great option for a fun time then. It is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Starcraft. It is slow paced, it emphasizes large strategic-level decisions rather than smaller tactical ones, and being quick on the draw is worth significantly less than having a solid idea of where you want to position yourself. It’s a very entertaining and different take on the genre, bringing in some much needed innovation.
RUSE is essentially a simulation of that scene in World War 2 movies where they push around little groups of army men on a board in response to intel. Except you know, prettier. It’s very focused on making your opponent make a mistake by playing with what information he or she has access to. To that end, in addition to the standard building of little army men to attack them, you can hide your units in forests and cities, and use command abilities called “Ruses” to make dummy units, cloak your troops, hide your structures, make your tanks look tiny… lots of fun little ways of playing around with perceptions. Backing that up is a pretty solid combat system based on simple hard counters with a couple of tweaks. What that means is that your infantry can always be killed by armored vehicles, your armored vehicles can always be killed by a tank, your tanks can always be killed by a bomber… etc. The tweaks -like infantry killing tanks if they get the drop on them in a city- add a quite a bit of depth to that. Each side (US/England/Russia/France/Germany/Italy) also have their own idiosyncratic troop types to add to the mix.
It’s also surprisingly pretty at any level of zoom:
Part of why I found it so engaging is that I can make very large scale decisions (I’ll try a feint here, supported by dummies, then push the main force around back under radio silence….) and ignore the minor decision-making of putting down an extra depot every time I want to make new units or clicking about wildly to keep things in position. Micromanaging is kept to a minimum and “skill” with the UI is a very small part of your victory. There’s something very satisfying about knowing that all it took to win was a good read on your opponent and a solid idea of what sort of army you’d need to crack their forces wide open.
I think that any person with even a vague interest in ordering around little army men, even those of you who aren’t generally into it, should give RUSE a try. It’s accessible in a way many modern games are not, and it’s one of the few games I’ve seen recreate the sort of fun I used to have with actual board games.
Also! For people who are way too into game news and hate DRM: they removed the Ubisoft DRM. No crazy DRM! You can purchase without worry!