R.U.S.E. is the kind of game a real-time strategist might enjoy and be bored of at the same time. It's a game that relies on strategy and thinking ahead, rather than fast reflexes and actions-per-minute, but it manages to create problems for itself, at least on the consoles, due to the limitations of the controls and what you're actually able to do.

Much of the game's focus is on unit combat, rather than base building, making each of your units an important resource to be managed, rather than simply sent forth like so much cannon fodder. Units have weaknesses and strengths, forcing you to use everything at your command, rather than just focus on one class of units exclusively. For example, recon units are invaluable to your units, not just you as the player: often, units have a firing range further than their sight range, so being able to see the enemies ahead means being able to fire upon them before they even know you're there. Taking cover behind buildings to remain hidden, positioning units in forests to reduce damage, and more options: all are available for your use, so it's critical to know exactly where your units are and what they're up to.

Adding to the strategic depth is that of ruses, special abilities that allow you to see what enemy units are present, what orders are being given, or to have your units hide from the same kind of ruses by, for example, going into radio silence. These give you a huge advantage in knowing what the enemy is doing, or what it's going to do, or making sure that the enemy doesn't know the same about you. That said, the ruses didn't feel terribly strategic, so to speak. They perform their task admirably, but I never felt like I would've lost a battle had it not been for my ruses. They're really just for giving you a bit of a hand, not for sweeping tides of battles when used correctly. If you play the game expecting them like this, just helpful little things to mitigate loses and raise the damage you do to your opponent, then it'll feel a lot better.

As a strategy game on a console, controlling with a controller is fairly easy and intuitive, but a lot of problems come up. You can zoom in and out with a flick of the right analog stick, seeing the battlefield close up or zooming out to see everything like a map on a military planning table, piles of tokens and icons representing groups of units, making surveying the battlefield easy. Selecting units is easy since the game highlights the unit closest to the center of the screen, allowing easy selecting. However, if you want, say, a unit next to the one that's highlighted, you need to continue nudging the camera over bit by bit until the highlighting cursor finally shifts over like you want it to. In addition, despite the fact that you can do a group select, selecting all units of a particular type in a particular area at once, or simply bringing up a selection halo and selection everything within that halo, there are problems.

Let's say you want to select three or four units out of a group. You just want to send a small recon squad forward out of the light tanks you have, so you just want to send a couple. There's no way to do this beyond selecting each of them individually, since there's no 'add to group' option. So you can select all of the units at once, or hope that the units are spread far enough so that the selection halo doesn't grab more than you want. This can create problems. Unit management is an issue in general, really, forcing you to separate unit types apart to make sure you know what's what.

The graphics and unit design really come into a problem here as well. Telling similar units apart, such as the various levels of tanks, is nearly impossible unless you select each of them individually. Worst still is the inability to differentiate the units from the terrain, since almost everything in the game is a mixture of brown, light brown, and possibly green. When you zoom out, things are pretty clear, but move into any distance and the unit indicators disappear. Everything just blends into the environment at that point, and it becomes hard to see when something is attacking, or where exactly your units actually are. It becomes mildly problematic when the game is slow, and a huge problem when a skirmish is going on.

The single player campaign isn't really interesting, following the rise of a man through the ranks of the Allies army during World War II, trying to track down a mysterious German informant by the name of Prometheus that seems to be one step ahead of everyone. It's got a pretty plodding pace, but does a good job of introducing the various concepts and ruses of the game so is a decent, if a little slow, starting point for newcomers. A nice point is the presence of the different difficulties, which, unlike most games, change more than just health and damage numbers. On higher difficulties, reinforcements fail to show up, enemies suddenly seem to be a lot more active and cunning, secondary objectives require you to truly utilize your strategic muscles, and in general a tougher front is provided that is more than just overcoming numbers.

Like most strategy games, multiplayer is the way to go. That's really all that I need to say. Multiplayer is there, it's better, and playing against human players makes a world of difference, especially when it comes to your ruses.

So, R.U.S.E. is an interesting game with its fair share of problems. It's got some strategic depth to it, that's for sure, but the console controls leave a lot to be desired when it comes to anything that isn't a quiet lull in the action. The graphics also get in the way of being able to tell what the heck is going on, unless you're zoomed out, and when that happens, granularity in your control completely vanishes. It could definitely appeal to those who enjoy a more macro-style strategy game, but if you like a faster pace to your strategy, it's going to be easy to get bored or frustrated quick.