This isn't business . . . this is WAR!
Ever wanted to throw a lawyer off a pier? Hack into a mainframe to swipe classified information? With Tom Clancy's Ruthless.com, here's your chance. When you enter into the world of Ruthless.com, leave your ethics at the door because it's time to make a killing. Do you have what it takes to survive and dominate in an industry of cutthroats?
Well, do you?
Ruthless.com is a simultaneous turn-based strategy game that is based on the underhanded, unconventional business practices of the corporate world. To win the game, you must build a computer empire on top of the bodies of your competition. At your disposal are thugs, hackers, and lawyers to get what you want, the way you want, when you want it.
To begin the game, you have to decide whether to play the open-ended campaign or any of the six scenarios. Each scenario has varying setups and different victory conditions. One scenario, named "Take Down EvilSoft", has a software corporation that holds the market in a tight monopolistic grip (coughMICROSOFTcough). You and four other corporations have formed an uneasy alliance to destroy EvilSoft's tyranny once and for all. To achieve victory in that scenario, you must have the largest corporation.
After choosing which type of game to play, the first in-game decision is coming up with a name for your corporation and finding a CEO to carry out your orders. Each CEO comes with an individual trait that gives them an advantage during play. Some will remain loyal to the company regardless of blackmail or bribe attempts, while others are more likely to raise product sales, and still others are more likely to allow you to fall into debt. Needless to say, picking the right CEO goes a long way towards helping you achieve your goals.
Depending on the type of game you chose, you will start out with a set number of buildings (usually three) and departments. Each building is allowed to have six departments. During the game, you are able to purchase additional departments. Purchasing these departments during the game is costly, so it's good to choose the ones that best suit your strategy at the initial setup. The departments you have to choose from are: Product, Research and Development, Marketing, Security, Administration, Computer Core, Legal, Acquisitions, and Human Resources. The Computer Core, Security and Legal departments all have a host of devious orders to screw your competitor (or get screwed). An executive getting too powerful? Kidnap him, or have him assassinated!
A game board depicts your network of corporate buildings, and your market share is shown by terrain squares of the same color. Creating new products, improving marketing, and maintaining quality assurance help expand sales and keep your cash flow strong enough to support expansion. Of course, that is easier said than done. The AI is difficult even on the easy setting. The attitude of AI opponents depends on their traits. Some may be aggressive, while another may be defensive. You will notice the more aggressive CEOs will firebomb your buildings more often than others will. Luckily, you can cut deals with other corporations to have them not attack you for a price (guess that's not exactly a deal).
The interface in Ruthless.com is well done and very easy to navigate. During the game, the last turn's events, as well as the stock quotes for each corporation, scroll by at the top of the screen. The in-game music is excellent too. You are able to choose a theme for your corporation at the setup. Each theme has different musical scores and buildings.
The graphics in Ruthless.com are not the greatest to look at, but good enough for this type of game. It has a gothic look to it, which adds to the dark and dirty feeling of the game.
Ruthless.com is a captivating game to play, mainly because of its subject matter (something about being able to assassinate somebody). You can even play multiplayer over the Internet or LAN. I do have a complaint though. This game is extremely complex, but the manual doesn't really explain everything. The tutorial doesn't help much either. You have to play a lot (with a lot of losing I might add), to finally understand what it takes to be victorious.
For players who have fantasies of building a software empire from scratch, this is the game for you. But remember: You don't need ethics, just greed, an ego, and a few wicked instincts. In the end, the only thing anyone will remember is who comes out on top.