Video Game / RUSE

R.U.S.E. (no, the name doesn't actually mean anything, it just looks cool that way) is a Real-Time Strategy game by Ubisoft set during WWII. The name comes from the game's twist on the standard RTS formula: Ruses are in-game support powers which affect a certain area of the map for a certain time, and can do things like reveal enemy orders, hide your troops or even create decoy buildings and units. Though using these is not strictly necessary for victory, they can be a powerful asset. Unlike its successor, Wargame: European Escalation, set in the Cold War, and the series that spawned from it, it does not feature a large, exhaustive array of all major combat units in service at the time; the unit selection is fairly limited, with each faction having at most two or rarely three units of any one given type (with the third exclusively being an expensive, late-game prototype unit), yet these limited arsenals still embody the overall doctrine of their respective countries, and do tend to feature the most important (or at least well-known) examples of each unit type.

The campaign follows the exploits of a US Army officer by the name of Sheridan, from his first command as a Major in North Africa in 1943 all the way to being a General during the final stages of the war. The campaign is essentially one long glorified tutorial; new elements are generally introduced one at a time, almost all the way to the end, and the player doesn't actually have a whole lot of freedom in achieving their objective. The skirmish and multiplayer modes are where the game comes into its own, though, allowing full use of all arsenals of units and Ruses. All the major players of the war are accounted for; the United States, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan as a DLC faction.

This game provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Quite many.
    • Towed artillery has a significantly longer range than the same type of artillery on a self-propelled platform. Towed guns also fire four rounds in quick succession for every barrage, while (most) self-propelled guns only fire one.note  However, this is necessary for towed guns, especially the shorter-ranged 75mm ones, to be competitive, as they are obviously much slower and more vulnerable.
    • Similarly, and for much the same reasons, towed anti-tank guns will have longer range and higher damage than the same guns mounted on tank destroyers. They do still only fire one shot at a time though.
    • The arsenals of each faction, as said above, are hugely truncated. Especially noticeable with anti-tank and anti-air guns, which all nations had a wide variety of in real life, but which have been reduced to one or two examples in either category at most. However, the units that did make it into the game tend to represent the factions' real combat doctrines, and keep the battlefield more simple and understandable.
    • High-explosive weapons (artillery shells and the bombs used by level bombers) do little more than scratch armour. Even a fairly dense artillery strike or a large air raid is not likely to do all that much damage to tanks, although it will utterly wipe out any buildings and unarmoured units in the area. However, given that the game takes place on a much larger map than most RTS games, and artillery can outrange tanks several times over, it prevents artillery from just being an instant-win solution.
    • Anti-tank guns, including those mounted on tank destroyers, do not have high-explosive shells, and tank destroyers do not have machine guns, so any infantry that get close will be able to wipe the floor with them without taking any damage in return. However, given how powerful these units can be, as with artillery, it prevents them from becoming an instant-win tactic, especially for fast, turreted tank destroyers (the American ones and the British Sherman Firefly).
    • Unlike in the Wargame series which followed, tanks and heavy vehicles cannot enter forests, only infantry, towed weapons (except artillery and heavy AA/AT guns like the FlaK-88) and recon units can. However, forests in R.U.S.E. also confer ambush bonuses, which seriously increase the damage of hidden units, and add damage protection as well, so being able to hide tanks as well could easily make them overpowered, especially when it concerns vehicles like the IS-3 or T95, and would make towed anti-tank guns almost useless compared to tank destroyers.
    • The prototype bases are chock-full of Rare Vehicles. Among the units that can be produced are the Maus (1.5 built), T-95 Gun Motor Carriage (2 built), Super Pershing (2 converted from the regular Pershing), relatively unknown prototypes such as the O-I (of which maybe one prototype was built) and the FCM F1 (which never went past the wooden mockup stage), and vehicles that never participated in the actual war, such as the Skink (3 built, never saw combat), IS-3 (reached the front just in time for the German surrender) and ARL-44 (which only entered service in 1950).
  • A Commander Is You:
    • The United States are a Jack-of-All-Stats Balanced faction. note 
    • Germany is an Elitist faction with a big focus on research as well. note 
    • The Soviet Union are a hybrid of the Spammer and Brute Force faction types. note 
    • Great Britain is a Unit Specialist focusing on air power, with their ground forces being more individually specialised. note 
    • France takes the concept of the Stone Wall and runs with it (insofar as they can run, that is), with some of their later units veering into Mighty Glacier territory. note 
    • Italy is mostly a Ranger, with a bit of Guerrilla, all by way of the Fragile Speedster. note 
    • Japan is a hybrid of the Technical faction and the Jack-of-All-Stats, sort of an Evil Counterpart of the USA gameplay-wise. note 
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Anti-tank guns and tank destroyers can ONLY shoot at tanks and other vehicles, and have absolutely no way to defend themselves from soft targets (read: infantry) which come close. Even those T Ds which did have machine guns and high-explosive shells in real life. To a lesser extent, both towed and self-propelled artillery are only really effective against buildings and unarmoured targets (supply trucks, infantry, AA and AT guns), and will only manage to annoy anything with armour. Even those which were also used as tank destroyers in real life, such as the StuG III, quite possibly the most well-known tank destroyer in history.
  • Diesel Punk: While there is no outright fictional technology in the game ( except perhaps the V2s tipped with atomic warheads), some of the units from the various nations' Prototype Bases really have that dieselpunk feel. The Maus is probably the lightest example of this, followed by the American T95. The French FCM F1 (actually a pre-war design) and Japanese O-I super-heavy tanks definitely fit here though; the FCM F1 has two turrets, one mounting a 90mm cannon while the other has an AA gun. The O-I similarly has multiple turrets, with the main one also mounting a regular tank gun, but the other ones have flamethrowers; it also serves as rocket artillery of all things, with a launch ramp on the back capable of sending out a flurry of rockets every so often.
  • Do-Anything Tank: The French FCM F1 prototype super-heavy tank is the only ground unit which can engage soft targets (infantry, trucks, towed guns), buildings, hard targets (tanks and other AFVs) AND aircraft effectively. While many AA guns can also technically shoot at anything, they are either unable to shoot at infantry and buildings (in the case of large guns like the FlaK-88) or their damage is absolutely abysmal, while the FCM F1 gets a VERY powerful, long-ranged gun, which deals huge damage to anything on the ground, and its frontal AA gun is surprisingly powerful. Its only true weakness is its low speed, and even then, anything that could possibly hope to go up against an FCM F1 one-on-one is just as slow.
  • Easy Logistics: You get one Ruse every minute. Units, buildings and static defences are built with "Supplies" (which do use a dollar icon), which come from Supply Dumps across the map, which look like they contain oil drums and other military goods when zoomed in. Buildings and ground units out of combat, as well as aircraft at airfields, will slowly repair. Aircraft can only peform one attack per sortienote  before they must return to base, however they have infinite fuel and can fly in circles forever.
  • Expy: Sheridan to George S. Patton, to some degree. Both are skilled hotheads with something of a personal rivalry with their enemy. Similarly, Von Richter feels like an expy of Erwin Rommel; both served out of love for their country rather than loyalty to the Nazi cause, and both are highly skilled commanders fond of using unconventional and subversive tactics. The parallel is driven further by the fact that the game, and the characters' rivalry, starts in North Africa.
  • Historical In-Joke: "Nuts", the famous response of the US 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge to a German request for their surrender, is here uttered by the protagonist, General Sheridan, to the face of his German counterpart. The delivery is incredibly Narmy.
  • Mighty Glacier: Most heavy tanks exemplify this, being slow, hard to kill, and very heavily armed. Some of the prototype vehicles especially.
  • Miles Gloriosus: General Wetherby, your superior for the first half or so of the campaign, an incompetent, self-obsessed gloryhound.
  • More Dakka: Some of the self-propelled AA vehicles can throw up huge streams of tracers, especially the American M16, British Skink and Japanese Ta-Se. Also happens when a lot of light towed AA guns are stacked together. The Katyusha and Calliope (and to a lesser extent the O-I) do this with artillery rockets.
    • Some artillery, like the French 75mm field gun and its foreign copies, are quite cheap and quick to build. It is entirely possible to build up a stack of this kind of artillery which can pretty much blot out the sky with shells.
  • Nuke 'em: The point of the Nuclear gamemode. Instead of the Prototype Base, all factions can build a Nuclear Centre which builds a long-range howitzer firing atomic shells. Also Kate's final fate in the campaign.
  • Stone Wall: France's entire schtick, exemplified by the B1 Bis heavy tank. Available right from the start, only costs $20, and has the second-highest level of armour..... and is among the slowest tanks in the game, and only carries a 47mm gun in the turret and a 75mm one in the hull. Very hard to kill, but has the weakest weaponry of any heavy tank in the game. The British infantry tanks also exemplify this; the Matilda has similar armour to the B1 Bis, but only carries a single 40mm gun, and the Churchill's 75mm gun is more comparable to those found on cheaper, faster medium tanks. It still has top-of-the-line armour, though, so like the Matilda and the B1 Bis, ideally it should serve as a bullet sponge while other units, such as anti-tank guns or fighter-bombers, actually destroy the enemy.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: To some degree. Infantry kills anti-tank guns, anti-tank guns kill tanks, tanks kill infantry. (Or infantry kills anti-tank guns, anti-tank guns kill tanks, tanks kill artillery, artillery kills infantry.)
  • Tank Goodness: Most of the major Cool Tanks from the Second World War are in this game. The Americans have the M26 Pershing and the T95 Gun Motor Carriage, the Germans get the Panther, Tiger, King Tiger and Maus, the Russians get the IS-2 and 3, the French get the B1 Bis, the ARL-44 and the FCM F1 (the only tank which comes with its own AA gun!), even the Japanese get the O-I Military Mashup Machine.
  • Technology Levels: In multiplayer and skirmish mode, the player can choose whether to play at the 1939, 1942 or 1945 technology level, with different factions behaving differently from one level to the next. note  Also, the anti-tank base, which builds anti-tank guns and tank destroyers, is only available from 1942 (even though some guns are explicitly pre-war designs), and the prototype base comes in 1945. The Total War gamemode applies this within the confines of an actual game, with the available technology starting in 1939, then progressing to 1942 and eventually 1945 after some time.
  • The Alleged Tank: The Italian lineup is full of these. The Carro Veloce is a very fast little tankette which can shred infantry, but doesn't even have proper tank armournote . Their first proper tank even says in the description that while the Italians called it a medium tank, it was actually a super-light one, with its dinky little 37mm gun mounted casemate-style, so it can't even fire it while moving (although it does have a turret, it only mounts a machine gun). The Japanese Ha-Go light tank is also a very cheap vehicle with no actual armour, although it at least has a turreted gun.
  • The Mole: The Germans have a spy in the Allied command structure, with access to all manner of confidential information. Turns out it's Kate Garner, a Pentagon liaison on the front. She's actually a Double Agent, or perhaps a low-end Double Reverse Quadruple Agent, trying to balance out the Allies and the Germans at the behest of her real masters, the Russians - or to be more precise, the 7th Guards Army, a bunch of hard-liners who are trying to kick off a war between the Allies and the Soviets with the help of German atomic weapons.
  • Tutorial Level: Most of the single-player campaign. It starts out as something of a Justified Tutorial, as Major Sheridan is placed in impromptu command of his troops in the field (although even then, some of the things the game tells you should be second nature to anyone who managed to reach the rank of Major). Although the game does start giving the player more choices and options fairly quickly, it still takes its time introducing new concepts (such as aircraft, static defences and unit upgrades) and RUSEs, and the training wheels only really come off in the endgame. When they do, however, it is glorious.
  • World War III: Narrowly avoided. The Soviets denounce Kate's faction as rogues, and for some reason, consent to have Allied troops fight them on Russian-occupied soil, even going to far as to finish them off with an atomic bomb.
  • Worthy Opponent: General Von Richter and General Sheridan, to each other. Notably, Von Richter seems to consider Sheridan something of a Friendly Enemy, to some degree; Sheridan seems to take their rivalry more personally. After Von Richter surrenders, he is reluctant to accept his help against Kate's troops, and does not seem to like working with him one bit.