The Games Of Christmas ’10: Day 19

There’s nothing behind today’s window on the advent calendar. Not a thing. I guess you’ll have to find something else to do with your Saturday, eh? Perhaps you could pick up one of those home beer-making kits. It’s only that you can’t read about one of our games of the year behind this window, because there’s nothing there.

Aha! It was a ruse! I rused you, making today’s game… R.U.S.E.!

Quinns: My favourite thing about Ruse is the distinction between how I play it and how the over-expressive blowjobs that Ubisoft first advertised the game with play it. Take a look at this.

Look at that sneer at 1:08! You could only learn a sneer like that over the course of very many night classes. He probably has a certificate and a license for that sneer. Amazing.

Anyway, the obvious difference first- they’re wearing sharp suits. When I play Ruse I am, in all probability, wearing a dressing gown. The time of day when I change out of my dressing gown depends on how busy I am. On a normal day, I’ll have changed out of it by 1pm. On a busy day the dressing gown is a permanent fixture, with the sleeves drooping hungrily into every meal I eat. On a nightmare day where even stopping to cook would be a luxury, I get by just chewing on those sleeves. If I was in the above video the only way you’d get away with it is if all shots of me were from the waist up, causing me to appear as a sort of startled Hugh Hefner.

But that’s just the beginning. Look at those guys- they know exactly what’s going on in their game. I have no idea what’s going on in one of my multiplayer games of Ruse. Haven’t a clue. Are there men in that forest? Will these jeeps arrive in time? Should I be sending these tanks forward? Am I winning? Don’t know. You’re better off asking my the other guy.

I’d probably be on firmer tactical ground if I had a plan, but I don’t have a plan. Those guys in the video, the guys in suits- they’re clearly the guys you go to if you want a plan. Blowjob & Blowjob, Plan Consultants. That’s them. Who am I? I am a man in a dressing gown, with no plan. That bit at 0:32 when male model #2 reveals the coastal guns? That’d be where I’d panic and order all of my troops into the nearest forest, even the big tanks that can’t enter forests, even my boats. And Ruse doesn’t even have any naval units. That’s how much I’m panicking. Those guys, they probably think panic is just the name of the new Hugo Boss fragrance. Me, I finish a match of Ruse, I need a lie down.

The panic I experience playing Ruse is even worse than Starcraft 2 because there seems to be even more to keep an eye on, plus you’re dealing with the sour reality that every single enemy unit you see on the board could be misinformation. On the subject, the part at the end of that video where the troops he thinks are real turn out to be fake? That’s not the moment you live in fear of. What causes the tiny doomsday inside your head is when your troops fire that first, all-important shot at some enemy units you just /know/ are fake and the bullet pings off their very real armour, right before they begin some very real return fire. It’s beautiful, beautiful game design. Almost as beautiful as Ruse’s tactical zoom, in fact. But not quite.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I love all this panic, confusion and incompetence of mine, and that I do still win the odd match. The last thing I want when playing real-time strategy is to be safe and secure. With a strategy game, I want to be faced with difficult decisions all the time. With a real-time strategy game, I want to feel under pressure. Ruse offers both of those things in incredible quantities, and it does so with style.

That tactical zoom, where you can start off in the war room, surrounded by radio operators and secretaries and little chips representing troops, and then zoom in until the tanks and landscape become full-size, and are roaring about under an open sky- if you read about a videogame like that in a sci-fi novel, you’d never stop telling your friends about it for the rest of your life.

Really, I’ve got nothing but praise for this game. If you’re an RTS fan, you owe it to yourself, and Eugen Systems, to check it out.

Jim: My first taste of this game was in the very, very lengthy multiplayer beta. Boy, did those guys spend some time tweaking their game! Anyway, my first match was against a guy who left his mic open for the entire match. I could hear him breathing, and his TV burbling in foreign in the background. Who was this guy and what was going on in his life? Was he in love? Did he call his mother regularly? Did he even have a mother? Did he like pastries? I said hello, and he said hello, but then there was a kind of tension. Do we talk? Or just play? Against all the raging questions about his existence, I decided to remain silent. I wondered whether he was having similar thoughts, or whether all that mattered was the game. Perhaps he JUST played games, somehow, like people imagine I do. Anyway, the match unfolded and I RUSE’d him into the fucking ground! Tricking him by flooding the map with units after just a few minutes of rapid deployment and hasty building, I crushed him like a flimsy metaphor. Foolishly, he had gone all air-power, which I quickly scouted with long-range seeing dudes. Recon, I think they are called. I could hear his breathing change as he realised what was happening. He was being beaten. Then, as my tanks rolled in for the kill, and his aircraft were mown from the skies by my AA guns, I could hear him hmm and tut. There was even a little moan of realisation. He knew he was doomed. Before the end came, he disconnected. I’m sorry, distant antagonist, but you were rubbish at RUSE. Phone your mother.

Bonus considerations: 2010 has been a odd gaming year for me, because it’s been the one in which I have played the most multiplayer RTS games ever. RUSE has, unpredictably, come top of the list. I played a lot of Starcraft 2 and Men of War: Assault Squad, but boy did I play a lot of this. The main reason for this, I think, was that I rapidly became good at it. The pace was just right for me, and I got good at reading what RUSE was being played, and where. I didn’t always get it right, but that didn’t matter. I won regularly enough to feel like a tough guy.

I did, however, suffer from what I will call the “multiplayer contrast trap”, which occurred when I got the play the single player for review. Having played the game extensively for the beta, the single player ended up seemingly a straightjacket. The story wasn’t good enough for me to give a damn, and the pace that it ramped up the action wasn’t good enough for me not to feel bored. I suspect that if I had played the single-player game first, this would not have been an issue. This is not the first time this has happened.

So that’s RUSE… It’s good!


  1. rei says:

    It’s Sunday! Did you black out for a day? :\

  2. DrugCrazed says:

    “find something else to do with your Saturday, eh”

    That was my first hint.

    • rei says:

      Surely that would be too elaborate a ruse, and I refuse to accept that I was fooled >:|

  3. MartinNr5 says:

    I downloaded the demo on my 360 but never got a chance to sit down with it.

    If you compare the 360 version – that I understand has pretty good controls for an RTS – with the PC version, how do they compare?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I played the demo of this on pc, and the game itself on 360 (because I have gamefly and there wasn’t much else out that month).

      Obviously it controls better with a mouse, but they did a surprisingly good job mapping it to a pad. The game moves at a slow pace, so with a pad the controls are only a little bit slower than you’d like them to be, as opposed to how it nearly cripples you in most console RTSs.

      Still, the game wasn’t for me. I loved the idea of it, I think I would’ve loved the game, even, except for the fact I wasn’t any good. I had the same problem as Quinns. I only ever had a vague idea of what was going on. It was too much to keep track of, for me. I could fairly well control my units, construction, and build queues, but that took all my concentration. There was no room left for plotting and planning, or thinking ahead to my next move, or even keeping track of where my enemy was and what he was doing. Let alone using the ruses properly. Whereas it doesn’t seem to have discouraged Quinns, it made the game unenjoyable for me.

      Who know, maybe with that extra bit of time using a mouse would have got me, I’d have been able to handle the work load better, and really played the game as it was meant to be played.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      weird double comment, begone!

  4. The Hammer says:

    I’m getting this for Christmas! It wasn’t a “MUST GET” game, but thanks to this piece, I’m really looking forward to it now!

    I’m most interested in the camera zoom of the game, which looks absolutely stunning. Quinns is spot on about the great concept of it.

    Wasn’t Supreme Commander initially supposed to do something similar, but it never worked out that way?

    • Arathain says:

      Supreme Commander’s zoom worked out just great. This is a development of that. A roll of the mouse wheel and everything is all icons (SC)/awesome stacked chips (RUSE). Roll in and your right in amongst the tanks/stompy spacebots with aircraft dueling overhead. It’s so lovely.

      Where RUSE stands out is the amount of attention paid at each individual, granular level of zoom to give you the most information and the most atmosphere. All the way out, everything is coloured chips and little models, with the supremely cool background of the radio room, with chatter and everything. As you roll in your chips are getting replaced with actual units, although they are much larger than scale, so you can always see everything clearly. You can then zoom all the way in for effect, and your units are now to scale, and looking lovely as they drive about over fields and get shot.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Sins of a Solar Empire had it as well. Worked well there too.

  5. Lambchops says:

    Post definitely needs a “Staring Eyes” tag.

    • Starky says:

      Nah, that only applies if it is in the main front page image.

  6. Stephen Roberts says:

    I get the same panic of dopamine and adrenaline when I play DoW2 1v1’s. Sheer bloody terror for a solid half hour wreaks havoc on my body.

    So I should probably try this out.

  7. Vandelay says:

    I really feel like this is a game I should buy, but just know I wouldn’t put the time into. I recently got Dawn of War 2, but, despite really enjoying it, I just found myself going back to the faithful Starcraft 2 for my RTS multiplayer fix. I could see the same thing happening with this.

    That teaser trailer did make me laugh though. The bit when the guy has a look of panic on his face and then suddenly goes “I know. EVERYTHING ATTACK,” as he flings all his transports forward, was the best moment. It does all look rather silly, but it does give a better representation of what the game is then most teaser trailers.

    • subedii says:

      I’m the same but opposite. I’d played them online before (mostly the older C&C games), but I only really got into multiplayer RTS’s with DoW2.

      When Starcraft 2 came out I naturally jumped on it, but ultimately whilst I liked it, the multiplayer mechanics just didn’t gel with me for various reasons. So I ended up going back to DoW2.

      Friends tried to get me into CoH at the time, but they were all well versed in the game, so it was rare that I could do anything useful, the game was complicated to pick up if you hadn’t been in on it from the start.

      More than RUSE, I’d like to try and get into Men of War sometime. I guess the problem is that most RTS’s have a pretty high barrier to entry to begin with.

  8. Xocrates says:

    RUSE is one of the few games that went from me being positively excited around announcement time to one I couldn’t really care less after playing the beta and especially the demo. In essence I felt that the core gameplay had been done better elsewhere and that the ruses weren’t interesting enough to be a gamechanger.

    The demo suggested that the campaign was a bit naff, something that many reviews seem to agree on, and a real dealbreaker for me as I’m not big on multiplayer.

    I keep hearing good things about it though, so I’m still considering getting it when it gets Super Cheap on Steam Sale ™, but since I suspect the game is unable to shine unless playing online it’s likely it won’t happen.

  9. Lack_26 says:

    I remember the free trial, I won every match I played but I never felt like I was winning until the last minute, there was always the chance that the enemy could do something that would change the game completely and reveal the fragility of my gambit.

    One time I was trashing an enemy’s base and he used a few ruses to sneak a force through the middle of our team (2 players) and he set about utterly destroying my base while mopping up the remnants of my attack. I however, built some paratroopers and as my last remaining unit, I snuck them across the map to the other enemies base and managed to capture it in its entirety because he wasn’t paying attention, churned out a load of troops and left the main enemy force between my ally’s 88s and my guns. All the while my new force of paras went and captured/destroyed his base.

  10. Inglourious Badger says:

    If I wasn’t already jealous enough of your job Quinns, the knowledge that you spend most of the day in your dressing gown would have driven me insane with jealousy if not for the deeply sobering image of you in your dressing gown. Thanks for that!

    • Auspex says:

      An artist’s impression of that sobering image.

      link to

    • Inglourious Badger says:


      I did not need to see that! I’d hate to ask how long you spent creating that? Or did you have it on file waiting for just such an occasion? Plus: why is he outside? And who is Dan Ward? This is wrong on so many levels!

      P.S. I literally LOLed for about 10 minutes, thanks Auspex

    • Auspex says:

      Everything I know of “Photoshopping” I learnt from Kieron Gillen: I shall never reveal the secret to his dark arts.

  11. subedii says:

    I did, however, suffer from what I will call the “multiplayer contrast trap”, which occurred when I got the play the single player for review. Having played the game extensively for the beta, the single player ended up seemingly a straightjacket. The story wasn’t good enough for me to give a damn, and the pace that it ramped up the action wasn’t good enough for me not to feel bored. I suspect that if I had played the single-player game first, this would not have been an issue.

    No it was pretty common knowledge that the SP campaign was dull.

    The only RTS singleplayer campaigns that have managed to really hold my interest recently were Starcraft 2 and Chaos Rising. Not even standard DoW2, that was a bit dull, but the SP campaign in CR actually had me interested in the storyline. Which is probably another reason I’m looking forward to Retribution, given that the Space Marine campaign apparently is going to be following on from the events of Chaos Rising.

  12. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Ruse seems like a fun game, but considering I’m generally awful at strategy, I probably won’t get it.

    -edit- And I actually think that’s a pretty good trailer. It does get the idea across, which is the most important thing.

  13. Doth Messar says:

    I only wear suits when I play this game.

  14. Dozer says:

    Hang on – did you say there are no naval units in the game? Then why on earth are there boats in the trailer???

  15. Arathain says:

    The thing I really liked about what RUSE did was the shifting of the micro away from individual units with special abilities to a more general, tactical sort of micro. Unit orders were mostly about getting your units in range of things they countered and out of range of things that countered them, but the frantic bit comes from the whole battlefield, as in “crap, need more artillery launch fighter bombers arrg ambush where’s my recon research paras…”

    • bill says:

      That does sound great. Nice way to put it.

      It sounds like what i’ve always wanted from an RTS. Less micromanagement, more macromanagement. But that has always fallen down in the past because the macromanagment was too limited and dull.

      it also sounds like advance wars ;-)

  16. Navagon says:

    So I can barely post but Tardstore is still open for business? Well it’s good to know the spam guard is working…

    • Beanbee says:

      All protection can be eventually circumvented without a dedicated moderation team. Hands up who wants to read endless RPS comments all day!


  17. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Damn you RPS, now how will I explain that I spent all my xmas shopping money on videogames, for myself?! (Bought 4-5 of these games of xmas so far…)

    I’m going to get a beating because of you

  18. SwiftRanger says:

    Tried to like it but nothing compares to SupCom 2’s zoom and gameplay. Its setting didn’t really help either. Haven’t been excited by a WWII game since Allied Assault to be honest.

  19. PleasingFungus says:

    The best part about the single-player is the hilariously awful plot and characters.

    There is so much ham, you could fill a pork factory with it.

    (The multiplayer’s quite nice, though. As discussed.)

  20. PleasingFungus says:

    lajiche98 is a well loved and respected member of this commenting community, and I will not hear a word said against them.

    Snotty-nosed newcomers, don’t respect their betters, grumble grumble grumble.

  21. SirKicksalot says:

    It’s just 13 pounds on The Hut right now: link to
    Add one pound for delivery outside the UK. It’s a Steamworks game.

  22. willfarb says:

    Damn I love this game, so very much. I’m terrible at RTS games normally, I can’t hold all the things I need to do at once in my brain simultanesouly.

    Solution? Zoom out some. “You guys”, go over “there”. There are “some tanks”, I want them to shoot at “those dudes”. Oh noes? Those dudes fighting back? Zoom in! Deal with it! Zoom out! Be happy.

  23. neems says:

    This is a great game – as mentioned (multiple times), the single player is pretty dull. But even just firing up the occasional skirmish match against AI is great fun. I’m a big fan of limiting the available tech to 1939 or 1942 and playing with a random nation. The sheer horror of realising far too late that your guys do not in fact possess anti aircraft / anti tank guns. The terror as you realise you’ve been given the Italians.

    As beautiful as the zoom is, I mostly play at a medium-to-far distance, as the stacks of chips and the big blue arrows just look fantastic. And I’m always tickled by the fact that a map in a war room has waves and clouds.

  24. DigitalSignalX says:

    I think the question and answer style registration trick is the only absolute way to avoid spammers, where you post questions like “what year did Rock Paper Shotgun start covering PC gaming” “what color is the sky” or “the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?” etc.

  25. thebigJ_A says:

    I thought the “only registered users can comment” thing was supposed to do away with things like this.

    Then again, I still need to buy gifts for the women in my family…

    Hey, Bot, is it too late to get delivery by Xmas? I wanna get my sister some Ugg boots. I hear those are popular with the kids these days!

  26. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I wonder if he accepts payment in spam. I hope he does, the 64 boxes of spam are already on their way.

  27. Dervish says:

    That was a smirk, not a sneer!

  28. wrath says:

    Maybe I shouldn’t bother posting this. I just never got the appeal of this game. Its true that I’ve only played beta, but I find even its core premise downright offensive.

    It was supposed to be the game that bought deception to the fore, and that this was somehow innovative, and that somehow justifies the fact that there’s nothing more to the game. I’ve followed GomTVs coverage of Starcraft and now Starcraft 2 since the beginning, I’ve seen empty bunkers and token missile turrets contain an opponent, defences protecting nothing for the express purpose of tying up enemy resources and buying time, empty Dropships feign drops giving an assault that precious opening it needs. My point is deception exists in RTS play, especially at the highest levels. You never want your true intentions known, and its not uncommon for one player to mislead the other. The closest this game gets to innovation is reducing such clever and creative ruses to a button press no less.

    Hard counters, the combat system is riddled with hard counters. Make no mistake, under the hood, this game is barely more complicated than rock paper scissors. There are even unambiguous Anti-Tank and Anti-Air buildings. The tech tree is entirely flat and uninteresting, the game’s pace is incredibly slow. I won games in beta with 5APM average, not for lack of trying mind you. Positioning counts for basically nothing in this game. In Starcraft its only mostly useful, and in Men of War positioning is everything. My experience with RUSE is that only ambush and not matter.

    The RUSE cards are nothing special either, if memory serves Blitz is as simple as a speed buff, two of them are nothing but regular, old fashioned Fog of War, and the only interesting one is the ability to switch your own unit types through the FoW (so tanks look like infantry or something), only made possible by the game’s own contrived and nonsensical brand of FoW.

    I suppose this game was made for the console generation, and it looks like it works brilliantly on PS3 or 360 and some tabletop contraption and Kinect, but I’m used to and expect a lot more on a PC RTS. Reminds me of Halo Wars in that way.

    I guess what I’m saying is that, I think this game is shit and overhyped. I guess I shouldn’t bother posting, except maybe with intent to troll, which I don’t, but I’m confused as to why this game gets such rave reviews, and it nags at me.