For those who don’t know, Total War has been a staple of the turn-based strategy genre for a long time. For those familiar with Total War, they will know that when you play a Total War game you are treated to a robust and surprisingly easy to learn strategy game that would entertain even the harshest critics. There have also been a number of improvements to the series, adding more depth to an already deep game, but those additions are not overwhelming and don’t make the series unapproachable. Here you will find an extremely enjoyable balance between new and polished gameplay and the strategy that you’ve come to love, and that makes this game one of the best to be released in the genre.
In Total War: Shogun 2, the setting is the Sengoku period of feudal Japan. You play as the leader of a clan that just overthrew the local Daiymo, and it is your responsibility to lead your clan to victory over the other local Daiymos and eventually become the shogun of Japan. There are diplomatic ways to complete the game, but the game isn’t known for its diplomatic missions. Total War is great at combat, and that is the most entertaining way to go about the campaign. Little else gives you that feeling of being a force to be reckoned with other than having a massive army and using it to crush your enemies. What makes the combat of Total War great is that the game allows you to do what few other strategy games do, and assume direct control over your army. It is more than just pushing a button to attack, as you might expect. You have to tell each segment of your army to do what you want it to do. This gives you a strong feeling of control and emphasizes the need to be strategic rather than throwing your entire force at your enemy. Other Total War games have this mechanic but there are a few changes that make this latest instalment an even better experience. You don’t always have to fight every battle as there are options to auto-resolve any battle you wish, which allows you to approach the game in the manner you like best, whether that involves leading your clan, research, economy or developing the provinces you control.
In Total War: Shogun 2, you are able to assign personality traits to your generals. This gives your commander more options and influence over the army you assign to him. Whether you want your general to be better with infantry units or give him the ability to increase happiness in provinces where he is present, there are plenty of choices that give you more control and influence in the game. You can also adopt generals into your family, which helps to increase their loyalty to you. We found this a vast improvement over the Total War: Rome game, where control over your individual generals was not as intricate as it is now. Your generals are important to your success as a Daimyo, as if you don’t keep them loyal and happy, they will leave you when you need them most. You can quell their willingness to stray by adoption, as stated earlier, or giving them positions in your clan. Either way, these options give the generals a lot of depth that they didn’t have in previous games.
Another new addition is religion. This sounds simple enough, but it can unravel even the best-laid plans of becoming Shogun. You are forced to decide if you want to let the European countries into your ports and cities. If you let them in, they will provide you with cannons and gunpowder weapons, but if you do this, the Europeans will bring Christianity with them. This quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with among the Shinto followers. This will bring you a fair amount of dishonor if not handled properly, so you can see how this can either benefit or destroy a player early in the game.
The biggest addition to this game is found in the multiplayer. Here, players are offered a new mode, lots of extra maps and new map types (both naval battle and land battle maps), and control over the season and time of the battle. You also have strategic points on the map that you can take control of and gain a bonus for doing so, and they can mean the difference between life and death in close battles. Most will find that the AI is improved over previous games in the series, and will often employ tactics against you that you wouldn’t expect, including ambushes and flanking. These tactics are new for a Total War game. There is a lot of new content to digest here, and any fan of the series will like what they see.
Overall, Total War: Shogun 2 is the best game in the series and probably one of the best strategy games out there today. The mechanics are solid, the art style is beautiful, and the game has plenty of character. Sure, there are a few glitches in the multiplayer, but these aren’t an issue and should definitely not hold you back from trying this game. The game is very demanding of your gaming system, so make sure you have a PC that can handle it. We would definitely recommend this game to just about anyone, and if you are at least somewhat interested in a game like this, try it. You won’t be sorry you did.
This game is based on a retail copy of the Steam version of Total War: Shogun 2 by Sega
- New Modes, Maps and Game Types
- Religion Mechanics are Great
- Lots of Replay Value
- A Few Multiplayer Glitches