by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back an ass
Whilst experienced Total War gamers should have no issue with the controls and gameplay mechanics, newcomers to the series should be aware that Total War: Shogun 2 does come with a somewhat steep learning curve. The tutorial does do a great job of informing newcomers of the control scheme and the techniques required to complete the main game. The lessons learned during the tutorials will definitely sit novices in good stead for the onslaught of the campaign.
It wouldn’t hurt for hardened Total War gamers to spend some time with the tutorial either, as the tutorial explains a number of the new features of Shogun 2. Ship battles, for instance have been given a change of direction from those of Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War. In those games, naval battles were basically won and lost depending on the number of guns you had aboard your ships. Shogun 2 has changed this with the variations in the ship types used in the game. The naval combat works much more like a rock/paper/scissors scenario, with the different ships being used to combat the weaknesses of another. It seems to work really well once you get the hang of it.
Castles sieges have also been re-designed for Shogun 2. Japanese castles of the period are far different from the almost impenetrable castles of 18th century Europe. Instead of having to blast holes in the exterior, gamers are tasked with navigating their troops through several layers of the Japanese fortress in order to conquer the inner sanctum of the castle. Again, this is something where experienced Total War gamers will be required to rethink their tried-and-true tactics of previous titles in order to be successful.
Rock, paper, scissors, ninja
Land units have been overhauled somewhat too, as the number of variations has decreased when compared to Napoleon: Total War and Empire: Total War. And being back in the Feudal Japanese scenario, there is a distinct lack of muskets and rifles. Strategy largely uses the main unit types of archers for ranged combat, cavalry for flanking, spearmen for defence against mounted warriors, and samurai to for close in work. Each clan also has specific traits that could determine which way you conduct battle, such as the Takeda ability to recruit a superior cavalry or Tokugawa’s ability to recruit better ninja units. But in the end, whatever tactic you choose, the result is still to become Shogun of Japan by capturing and holding territories on your way to Kyoto. As mentioned earlier, diplomacy can certainly help, as can some ‘underhanded’ tactics with the use of geishas and ninjas, but a combined effort both on and away from the battlefield is important.
After victory, tighten your helmet chord
The grand scale and intense detail of Total War: Shogun 2 is completely unmatched by any game in the genre. Both the turn-based mode and the real-time battlefield mode work extremely well and put the gamer in total control. The full Feudal Japan experience is gained through the splendid visuals and authentic instrumental music. The AI too, has few issues to this point, giving novice gamers a chance of victory on the easiest level, but giving experienced Total War campaigners more than a headache on the more difficult levels. In fact, the only real issue I have had with the game is the minute text, at times making it hard to read. But for a game with such scale, this is but a trivial gripe, and one that could no doubt be fixed if I just looked into the options a bit more. If you have been a fan of the Total War series, this is definitely a must-get, and for any other strategy gamer, you would be wise not to let this one slip past you.
Visuals and audio are stunning. Superb AI.
Somewhat steep learning curve for beginners.