RTS games have a long and bland history of being, “get the biggest army, destroy enemy base, repeat.” Some games try and change that, deviating from their perfect formula (Good job EA…), and end up ruining the game. Well Eugen Systems have unleashed their game of deceit upon worldwide audiences and introduced something new to the mix, and it might just be good enough to win everyone over.

R.U.S.E. is based on information warfare. For those of you not in the know, information warfare revolves around intelligence, trickery, and a bunch of other ways to trick the enemy into thinking you’re doing one thing whilst you do the other. Kind of like when you’re browsing porn, then your Mom walks in so you quickly Alt + Tab to another window. At your disposal is a bunch of different “RUSE’s”, each serving its own unique purpose and having its own unique tactical appeal. For example; “Blitzkrieg” allows your units to move quicker, and is perfect for being used to hunt down and harass enemy scouts, supply trucks and recon units. “Radio Silence” hides your units to the enemy, and I often use it to hide a huge army of tanks, then attack the enemy before they even know the tanks are there.

These cards can be used in combination with each other, offering a very in-depth system that players can really use to tailor their strategies and game play. For example, if you were building an invisible tank base, then spamming tanks to flood your enemy, you would use “Camouflage Nets” to hide your building, and “Radio Silence” to hide the deluge of tanks that are soon to follow.  Many games can be won or lost through proper use of these cards, and it’s quite a fresh and simple solution to an otherwise jaded and repetitive genre.

Unfortunately the R.U.S.E. cards are basically the games only real draw point. There is incorporation for the Playstation Move motion controller, however I played the game on PC and as such my review is based on that platform. Included in the game is a Campaign which is a hoot to play and really gives you something new to do when you get bored of crushing people on the online component. There is also a fun set of “instant action” type missions that allow you to earn bonus ranking points to level up with. Coupled with a bustling online multiplayer community, the game is quite good value for the money and will easily give you hours of game play. Throughout the two betas, and now the full release, I’ve clocked up 190 hours of game play.

Unlike conventional RTS games, the maps of R.U.S.E. are broken into various sectors in order to separate the effectiveness of R.U.S.E. cards and conflicts. That being said, this game contains some of the best unit control I have ever seen. By scrolling right out you can view the map as a table, where your units appear as tall stacks. It all feels very much like a war room that you see in a conventional film, but the control is brilliant. It is also possible to manage your active R.U.S.E. cards and to just oversee the whole battle and to crush the enemy. Whether zoomed right out, or down to the ground, the graphics of R.U.S.E. are quite impressive and the battles look brilliant right down at ground level.

The impressive scalable graphics engine is also complemented by a nice sound mix, and the various languages for different nations really compliments the game and adds a nice realistic feel. The menus are simple, intuitive and let you get straight into the action, and this is something I really liked.

Although it has it’s good points, certain parts of the game feel extremely unbalanced. The German units are too strong, although they do cost the most out of any nation. Italy can rush tanks too early (My preferred strategy), and most of the game comes down to spamming the most units and catching your opponent off guard. Eugen is currently working on a patch, although details are scarce. More R.U.S.E.’s would have been good, instead of a mere 8, however Eugen explained that they weren’t balanced or counter-able (i.e.: Radio Silence is countered by Spy etc.)

R.U.S.E. is a good, fresh and new take on the RTS genre. I enjoy it even after so many games, because there are still new strategies and ideas being formulated everyday by a fresh and active community. If you’re bored of Starcraft 2, or any other RTS game, R.U.S.E. is definitely worth checking out.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Fresh new take on it’s genre
+ Great game from Eugen after nearly 4 years

- Not enough depth in the concept

- Germany is overpowered

- More R.U.S.E.’s would’ve been great

Alien Swarm was developed by Eugen Systems and was published by Ubisoft for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The game released in the United States on the 7th of September 2010 with a retail price of 49.99. This copy was purchased by the reviwer. The game was played for around 180 hours in multiplayer. Specs of the PC used are as follows: AMD Phenom X4 955 @ 3.60 Ghz, 4GB DDR3 RAM, HIS 5750 in CrossFire with another HIS 5750 and Windows 7 64 Bit.