Total War: Shogun 2 Review

Total War Shogun 2

Take control of a Japanese army in this RTS sequel.

The Total War series, has gone back to its roots with the recent game in the series, and the result is a sequel to their original. For those of you unfamiliar with Total War, the series is best compared to a beefed up cross between Civilization and RiskTotal War: Shogun 2 is a beautiful advancement to the RTS genre.

Total War Shogun 2

Graphically, the game is far superior to all of its predecessors.  Although the graphical difference between their most recent Napoleon: Total War and this one are minimal, Shogun 2 has a much finer detail level than the other titles in the series. The map has been redesigned for his game. The whole of Japan looks like an old brown map, but as the player explores, it reveals the world with incredible detail.  A low end computer will struggle with this game. Some reviews have complained about long load time throughout the game and especially before battles, this is not an issue with a medium to high end machine.

There appeared to be a bug with cavalry running off in different directions while in the middle of a fight when no new commands were issued. A closer inspection of the insurgents revealed that no one was riding the horses. As cavalry units die their horses run off riderless in any direction. It's the small things like this that make Shogun 2 an incredible experience. The Creative Assembly, developer of the Total War series, has a strong foothold on this genre because of their attention to detail.

In the main campaign, players assume the role of a Daimyo, a Japanese feudal lord, in a quest to conquer Japan. Campaigns can be played in three settings short long and domination. The short campaign requires the player to occupy 20-25 territories including the capital. Like all of the previous games in the total war series Shogun 2 involves loads of micromanaging. 105 turns later the short campaign ends. The long campaign requires about 40-50 territories and to win domination the player has to conquer all of Japan. The campaigns are fun, but the length of time required to beat them takes away from the replay value.

Total War Shogun 2

A few historical battles can be reenacted in Shogun 2. On easy and normal players start with massive armies and little to no strategy is required to succeed, but on the harder settings fewer troops are allocated to the player making the history battles quite a challenge. Shogun 2 features a few multiplayer game types. Players can in engage in skirmishes against up to 8 players. Campaigns can be played with two player either cooperatively or competitively.

The controls feel natural to the genre, neither enhancing nor detracting from the overall game. Left click to select right click to issue commands. At times it is hard to select the desired general when he is standing next to other generals or next to a town. Also when issuing commands to a large number of battalions they spread out don't group up on the desired spot, but instead spread out to cover a larger area. This is useful on the battlefield, but while defending a city sometimes they run out of the city walls. This can be easily avoided by selecting one or two battalions at a time.

One major annoyance in the game is that when a territory is about to revolt advisers only inform the player that a region is about to rebel, but no advice on how to curb they're anger is given along with the notification. No tutorial or instruction is given on where the game indicates the regions needs. The only way to tell what a region wants is to go into the development panel. If a region wants a development it will have a yellow arrow pointing down on the area they want to develop, but these advancements usually take a few turns to build, and on top of that most require research in order to be purchased.

Total War Shogun 2

Players can assume the role of the general and control their troops on the battlefield. It's a fun change of pace from micromanaging of villages. There are numerous unit types and battle's don't play out in a rock paper scissors fashion with different units always killing off a certain type. The different types of battalions have strengths and weaknesses, but a good general can take a battalion of peasants and conquer hardened soldiers with a good plan. The game rewards ambushes and creativity in battle. Although the battles are fun they do get old after a while, but there is an auto resolve button.

Generals gain experience as the game progresses and they gain both retainers and special traits which add special bonuses. In addition to generals players can recruit merchants, monks, ninjas and geisha assassins. All of them have particular uses and are an invaluable asset to any Daimyo. All of these special characters gain experience and receive bonuses just like the generals. The most useful of the four are the ninja and the geisha. The ninja can sabotage both city gates, a useful strategy for attacking a city, and other buildings, they can also assassinate. The geisha specializes in assassination, but she's good at what she does making her just slightly less important than the Ninja.

Total War Shogun 2

The music in the game is very soft, and it has an ancient Japanese ambiance to it. The music helps add to the mood and setting of the game. Also during battles the music picks up and is a bit more intense, but somehow manages to maintain the feeling of Japan. It is superbly done. No complex voice acting was done for this game. The character talk in Japanese for the most part, but there is an occasional line in English during diplomacy and other moments when it's important to understand what's being said. The sound really adds to the Japanese setting.

Total War: Shogun 2 is a gem in the series taking all of the good from their previous games and enhancing it. Although there are a few quirks like little to no instruction on how to manage revolting cities, the game is fun. The replay values of the game is low since game take so long to finish. After a campaign or two the game can get old, but during those first two games it's a blast to go through all of the emotions of a feudal lord.

Total War: Shogun 2
Incredible battles and great diplomatic intrigue make the game an enjoyable experience, but loads of micromanagement make gameplay tedious at times and reduces the replay value.
The music does a great job at enhancing the setting, but the voice acting is passable at best.
On a high end machine everything looks amazing. Japan has been beautifully recreated in 3d for this game.
Very straightforward with the occasional inconvenience while clicking on different units in battle or generals on the world map.
Total War: Shogun 2 does not stray from the successful formula established by its predecessors. Any player will enjoy being a Daimyo for a few hours of their life.
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