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PAX 2010: R.U.S.E. impressions

Posted by: Nathan at 3/30/2010 7:46 PM
Anyone interested in R.U.S.E. may have already formed their own opinions of the game thanks to the open beta available on steam, but what about us console gamers? I had a chance to get my hands around a Xbox 360 controller and give R.U.S.E. a spin during PAX East and discovered that 30 minutes wasn't long enough to find any enjoyment in the console version of R.U.S.E.

The first thing I noticed was the camera felt kind of floaty. The right stick controls the pan of the camera around the center of the screen and zooms the camera in and out, while the left stick moves the center of the screen, allowing you to focus on different units. The sensitivity took some getting used to, and for the first 5 minutes I would constantly zoom in the camera when I meant to pan. What is cool about zooming in and out is there's quite a bit of detail when zoomed all the way in (streams of flames and explosions) and when all the way out it looked as if the entire playing field was a tiny map sitting in a forward command center.

Other than the camera the rest of the controls boil down to selecting options in menus and directing units into the action. The game is designed so that units are fairly smart on their own, and once they're issued a command there's not much else you need to do. That leaves you, for better or worse, spending most of the time in the crossbar style build menu. I appreciated that all the options are available with a single press of a button, each unit or special ability had its own description boxes, and that the menu was functional if a little plain.

It may have been the easy difficulty of the computer opponent, or that I was only facing one opponent, but the gameplay of R.U.S.E. felt slow and plodding. Units moved slowly, resources gathered slowly, research took time to develop, and in general I spent more time messing around with the camera and waiting for resources to load than engaging in combat. I was able to use a standard defensive (turtling) strategy to defeat the computer opponent soundly with very few casualties.

In short: The controls are serviceable, but take some time to get used to. The gameplay can be slow and boring if you're only facing one opponent on the easiest difficulty. This may be one of those titles (Quantum of Solace and Section 8 come to mind) that fall on their face after not building up a multiplayer community to support the much more exciting online modes.