I first heard of Ruse when a couple of my friends started bugging me to join them in the open beta. I was going to, but when they kept insisting on it every 5 minutes, I bowed out as a form of protest (God damn it, I was busy). I now wish I had joined them because then I wouldn’t have wasted £30.
Right off the bat let me tell you that Ruse isn’t an awful game. Not by a long shot. But it has a lot of very basic problems that just made me wish I was playing a certain other game- World in Conflict. If you have World in Conflict, my advice is simple- go and play through it again, and don’t bother with Ruse. If you don’t have World in Conflict, buy it- it’s cheaper than Ruse and better.
That’s my review of Ruse in a nut shell. Honestly, I’ve been trying for half an hour now to write more than that; to talk about the gameplay, graphics, story and so forth, but at the end of the day World in Conflict beats it on almost every level. I can’t write any sort of review of Ruse without talking about WiC as they are the same damn game. There’s nothing more I can say. I’m sorry Ubisoft, but Ruse is just no competitor to WiC. You’ve got the same basic style of RTS, the same controls, the same distribution of unit types… everything is the same, except World in Conflict is just better.
WiC has better and more accurate controls, as well as far more options. For one thing, you can actually position your forces effectively instead of trying to wrestle with that damn floaty control to bring your tanks into a battle line instead of a column. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve spent 30 seconds needing to position each individual tank to form a battle line facing the right direction, only for something to go down on the other side of the battle field. Having returned from that, a pair of Tigers (Or some other tank) would have chewed through my tanks one by one, working their way down the line. No such problem in World in Conflict, where creating an effective formation is easy and intuitive. Infantry are better realised in WiC, with the ability to garrison buildings and hold lines themselves if used properly. Tanks operate in small groups making them easier to manage, and units gain experience meaning its worth keeping them alive.
Neither game is base centric, but again World in Conflict demonstrates it’s a better game. In WiC, you have no bases at all. Reinforcements are simply air dropped to you at specific locations you can expand by completing secondary objectives. You can reinforce captured points simply by placing a unit on them- the unit (any unit) will then build machine gun nests, AT points and Anti Air automatically. In Ruse you need to build everything manually- manually produce bases, manually produce units and so forth. Given that the emphasis of Ruse is on the units and the battles, not turtling like a madman (which neither game is designed for), needing to dick about with your base makes little sense- hence why it was left out in World in Conflict.
Linked to bases are resources. In Ruse, you need to capture supply depots which you then need to build on, and will then send trucks back to your HQ to provide you with funds. Again I ask, why do this in a unit centric RTS? World in Conflict allows you to generate resources over time, for taking down enemies, and for completing objectives- adding to the unit centric experience. Basically, you can’t just keep throwing tanks at the enemy or you’ll run out of resources. You need to plan, maximise your kill ratio and use indirect support to keep losses down. This makes it far more entertaining and rewarding. Simply put, if you concentrate on winning the battles and being effective, your resources will take care of themselves. In Ruse, you constantly need to worry about your supply lines and available resources, which distract you from the battles.
The style of both games is one that removes a lot of micromanagement, at least from the support and base building side of the game. Both games emphasise units and battles over anything else, but whereas World in Conflict gives you more options with your units and lets you focus on them entirely, Ruse for some reason feels the need to keep badgering you with limited base and resource management without offering anything in return. Why is that base even there? It’s not like I have a tech tree to climb, the defences are shitty at best so I can’t use it as a stratergy… all it does is give me new units. And, to bring it back to WiC again- you don’t need that, in fact it detracts from the game.
The story and characters of Ruse are laughable, the retelling of history is patchy at best (Surprising considering Eugen are based out of Paris), and while the graphics are not bad, I think World in Conflict’s may have actually been better. If not, they are at least on par with those of Ruse.
Okay, let’s talk about the single big difference between the two games- the Ruses. This is living proof that you cannot build a successful RTS around one mechanic. Honestly, I played for 6 hours and only on a few occasions did I see any effect from a ruse. I used radio silence, I still got shot at. I used spy and I still couldn’t see hidden enemy units. I use decryption and… yahoo. An arrow appears showing me where the enemy is going. And I couldn’t figure that out by myself by just…. looking at the way they where bloody moving? Blitz was the only one that was useful, as it increased movement speed.
The whole sector system is buggered too. Simply put, the sectors are too small, and often the same fight will be going on in two sectors at once (I.E your force will be crossing the border or straddling it)- meaning you need to double up on the ruse to have any effect. Now, if the ruse was simply an AoE, then it might actually work a little better.
Compare this with World in Conflict’s support system. You can call in artillery, air strikes, napalm, daisy cutters, air drop reinforcements, even tactical nukes, and they actually have some effect on the way the battle plays out. In Ruse, using the ruse system just feels like a waste of time. Once every so often maybe you’ll spot an AT gun that would have been a problem, or blitz may help you relocate a little bit faster… but they don’t seem to have any real impact on the game. They just offer up a tiny morsel of information every so often- certainly not a core gameplay mechanic and definitely not worth naming your whole damn game after.
Maybe the whole thing is better multiplayer, but as anyone who reads my stuff knows, I don’t like playing online. Never have, never will. Besides, I’ve mentioned before how saying a game is better online is just a cheap cop out for shitty design.
So there we go, if you’re going to take anything with you from this review, please take these two messages:
1. If you think you’d be interested in Ruse, get World in Conflict instead. You can get the complete edition which includes the Soviet Assault expansion on steam for £19.99. It is a far better use of your money.
2. If I had never played World in Conflict, I’d probably find Ruse a passable, but not a great game. But mine is a world of reality, and in reality WiC is cheaper, better realised and far more enjoyable.