by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Porters turned Pros
In the late summer of 1987, a company was born. Despite its name, in its early years the company was rather uncreative. It focused mostly on figuring out ways to make console games run on the DOS operating system (the dominant OS for personal computers at the time). In 1993, it began working with a big publisher on some high level projects, which mostly entailed making sports games based on the publisher's massively expensive licenses. By 1999, The Creative Assembly had become so well renowned within the walls of Electronic Arts that support for its decision to develop something a bit more risky was well within its reach. Shogun: Total War hit the shelves in June 2000 and was an instant success.
In the years following the critical phenomenon, The Creative Assembly put out a number of games in the same vein, making the Total War series one of the best known, and most critically acclaimed strategy series of recent years. It has seen many new features and additions since its original outing; some bettered the game, while others caused some discomfort amongst fans. This year, The Creative Assembly intends to release its latest addition to the series. Switching the names around and returning back to its roots of fighting for domination of feudal Japan, Total War: Shogun 2 has some interesting new features to add to the series.
Remake or Sequel?
This new title is more of a remake than a sequel as it takes place in exactly the same era as the previous one. Set in feudal Japan in the mid 16th century, the player will take control of one of the 9 playable regional chiefs, or Daimyo. The player must battle the other warlords for control of the islands of Japan, eventually earning himself the title of Shogun. The developers are adding all of the popular additions the series has seen over the years to this title, including but not limited to: tactical sea battles, free map movement, and much higher detailed characters.
The game will also include many new features and additions to the series. The game engine can reportedly support up to 56,000 soldiers on the battlefield, which is sure to put the games recently confirmed quad-core support to the test. Even though the amount of units on the battlefield is substantially greater than in the series previous releases, the unit roster will be somewhat smaller. The units populating this smaller roster will be customizable in many ways, making the options available to the player greater, even though the initial choice of units will be smaller. With this many units taking part in a single battle, it will be interesting to see if The Creative Assembly's attempts to streamline the waiting time between turns will not be overshadowed with additional processes for the artificial intelligence to think about.
In addition to an in-game encyclopedia, the game will feature an expanded tech tree and RPG elements for commanders and agent units. Whereas in previous games, agents gained features automatically relative to their actions, the player will now have full control over what features each unit gains. Although this will undoubtedly make the player feel more emotionally invested in a unit, it will nonetheless be a step away from the series focus on realism. Still, authenticity is not always the most entertaining choice.