Total War: Shogun 2

Developer: The Creative Assembly
International Publisher: SEGA
Russian Publisher: 1C-SoftClub
Official Website: English
Genres: Strategy / TBS / Real-Time Tactics
Platforms: PC
MultiPlayer: Internet
Release Date: 15.03.2011
Russian Release: 15.03.2011
PEGI Rating: 16+
System Requirements: Dual Core 2.0, 2 GB RAM, 256 MB 3D Card, 20 GB HDD
Our Score:

Total War: Shogun 2

To Unite and Conquer

If you know the enemy and know yourself,
Your victory will not stand in doubt.

Sun Tzu, «Art of War» (VI century BC).

The famous strategy games series entitled Total War has been making its fans happy for over than a decade. It isn’t only pleasing the audience, but also inspires other developers, proving that any new episode in the line-up can actually become even more original and entertaining than its predecessor. Though it doesn’t mean that we won’t get back to replay previous parts of the franchise since their ideas won’t get old unless a new game covering the same era made by The Creative Assembly appears.

Total War: Shogun 2 With each new title the developers introduce intriguing innovations, while always listening to the community wishes and trying to stay as historically accurate as possible dealing with the history of various centuries. This time the glorious series returns to its roots. In 2000 we saw the release of Shogun: Total War.

It showed the possibility of a successful combination of Grand Strategy game elements with major tactical real-time battles. The former ones allowed to govern, manage towns and armies on the global map, while the latter ones made it possible to defeat enemies on the battlefield with clever planning and outstanding maneuvers.

With the appearacne of the first title the fundamentals of the whole series had been created, and they formed the core gameplay features for all the future of the Total War franchise that has achieved the international recognition by the media and gamers. When you spend some time with Total War: Shogun 2, you will surely note, how carefully the developers were treating not only the ideas of the original title, but also everything that was introduced to the series later on.

Training mode from one part of the series to another has been evolving. Some time ago there appeared short introductory campaigns. They not only make you more familiar with the setting, but also do a good job explaining the important features. While battling weaker opponents, you can take your time to learn, find out interesting tips and come one step closer to mastering the administrative or martial arts.

Learning the secrets seems very important for everyone willing to become a Shogun here. The Tutorial is divided into several chapters: three scenarios are devoted to ground battles, two – to naval combat, and a special mini-campaign for the Chosokabe clan, where you can try to seize the complete control over the island of Shikoku. Later on you can revisit this game section to study the Advanced Naval Compan lesson, and it is worth doing, really. With this you will get acquainted to some of intriguing new features of Total War: Shogun 2, which we will mention later on in this our Review of the game.

Clan competition

Traditionally, the core of the single-player mode is the historical Grand Campaign. Now you’ll see three sets of victory conditions influencing the amount of time you have to conquer the required number of territories that are considered key ones for the appropriate clans. You’ll also have to overthrow the former Shogun to win. You have around 220 turns at your disposal to fulfill the task starting in 1545 and exploring the features of the Sengoku period in the history of feudal Japan.

Each year in Total War: Shogun 2 consists of four turns or seasons, what reflects the differences you’ll encounter on the campaign map and on the battlefield. There are 9 playable major clans, while the tenth one (Hattori) is unlocked for the premium editions customers. You can choose the faction to help its local Daimyo become the greatest ruler and warrior.

There are 5 available diffiiculty levels presented with a unified slider giving some advantages to the player or AI depending on the setting. Be very careful with these modes, since they noticeably affect the resistance strength of your opponents. For the real-time battles in the campaign mode you can also set an optional time limit and change Battle Difficulty using a specific separate slider.

The clans keep on struggling for more power and lands. The Emperor is pleased with their competition for wealth, territories and fame. The current Shogun resides in his capital province, Kyoto, where he is ready to promptly respond to upcoming threates to his reign. Ten factions in Total War: Shogun 2 not only present the various names or emblems. They have certain background stories, weaknesses and privileges, which could be beneficial for your entire party either in the administrative field or when waging wars.

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Find out 10,000 differences between Shogun (on the left) and Shogun 2 (on the right)

For example, the Chosokabe clan seems like being surrounded by rivals. Though at first glance its position is somewhat awkward, but the faction can’t allow its neighbors on the same island to grow stronger. At the same time, on the main land other major facctions wage wars with each other trying to conquer as much as possible, and ignoring any first Chosokabe achievements.

Each new captured province is a step further along the path of the enemies of the state in Total War: Shogun 2. As soon as one of the clans will be more powerful than all the others, the Shogun will call warlords to fight the potential rival. At this point, all factions will be honored to join the war against the aggressor. However, the overthrow of the old Shogun is not only prestigious, but can also be beneficial in many areas.

Once you conquer Kyoto, destroying a huge army of the local ruler and holding the province under your control for a few turns, you will be proclaimed a Shogun in the game world. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to improve diplomatic relations with your neighbors afterwards, if you already fought with their forces. Other factions can still consider you as a threat to their existence regarding the wars of the past even if you become a Shogun.

However, when it happens in Total War: Shogun 2 you’ll get access to strongest military units like the admiral’s flagship, Nihon Maru, or the Great Guard cavalry. If you manage to achieve all the campaign’s goals in time, after viewing the very detailed statistics on the elapsed period you will be able to continue your game till you finish your conquest of the whole map.

The total number of provinces in the sequel rises up to several dozen of territories, though each land has its own strong and weak points. One strengthens the armor of riders, others increase yearly income, make new agents more powerful or provide zeal benefits. It is worth noting that mostly the bonuses are local meaning that they apply only to their appropriate lands. Like, if you wish to hire a cavalry unit with stronger defense values compared to usual recruits, you better do, where fines warhorses dwell.

Economy of War

Total War: Shogun 2 looks to us the best in terms of balance of powers in the whole series. It concerns not only military units, but economy options too. Though the developers used vital ideas of the original game as well as introducing some new ones, we noted major improvements and various changes in faction’s management options.

The basis of your economy is built upon usage of two main resources: money and food. The former is used for construction works, recruitment, armies’ maintenance, fulfulling of diplomatic payments, performing bribes or funding random events, if you choose a costly solution, while interacting with them.

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A random event window (on the left) and a Technology tree (on the right)

Your clan’s rice stocks, Koku, is not just a tasty food for your citizens, but also a tool for strategy planning since now food is consumed by garrisons of castles and highly developed economy structures. In Total War: Shogun 2 a developed citadel eats more than locally produces. The welfare of such big fortresses rely upon the hard work of ordinary peasants of neighboring villages, which gather much, and ask little in return. Therefore, they will serve the leader, who is not only stronger, but also caring about their needs and problems.

As soon as the enemy sets a farm on fire, your food income falls down. If there are no other supplies coming, you risk facing the rebels’ movements. You can’t construct structures, which allow to store surplus of provinsions in the manner of Civilization (1991-2010) series, so you just need to ensure that you gather more food from farms than you consume with all your buildings and units. In addition, during each season you can face different evends changing the yield of crops depending on various factors.

Total War: Shogun 2 teaches to better specialize your settlements. The extension of your castle opens up additional building slots, but the bigger garrison needs more food supplies, and members of the merchant’s guild would like some provision too. This opens the first important choice when developing your province: a city can become an excellent provider of troops, agents or boost trade revenue, but you will have to accept the food costs it brings in. On the other hand, a peaceful village can add a lot more food to your supply, especially with its low consumption, though the milita defenders will be fewer in numbers this time and won’t be able to fend off even a small army of invaders. Also it is an easy target for inciting revolts.

To maximize the number of beneficial effects you need to carefully distribute the roles between your provinces before you invest anything into their development. The future expenses can reach tens of thousands coins, and any demolition of buildings will not replenish your coffers. Secondly, you need to use all of the available priviliges a province provides, whether their effect is local or more rarely – global.

As in the past episodes of the Total War series, trade is a significant source of income in Total War: Shogun 2. For that you not only have to establish fine trade routes by sending ships to the export points on the campaign map, but also to ensure the stability of your trade. You won’t meet your commercial partners in person, but can get up to several hundred of coins additionally every turn for each of your sea caravans. Though still keep close some warships in case of enemy trying to raid your routes or capture trade vessels.

Internal Affairs

Tax revenues from each province are quite modest in the beginning. You will feel your wealth grow significatnly only after you capture ten or more lands. That’s why trading can bring some needed financial help to wage your wars. This time trade isn’t just an additional source of income, since when trading, you acquire an access to a certain resource required to construct high-tier buildings, which recruits elite warriors or provide unique economical advantages.

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Alternatively, you can arrange the deals allowing to get the required raw materials from your Japanese neighbors, but potential partners ask for huge compensations for the agreements that seem profitable to both sides. The development of provincial infrastructure in Total War: Shogun 2 is presented in a separate consturction branch. If the castle area is responsiblfor example, fastening all your archers’ reloading rate.e for the military academies, agencies, war camps and temples, the rural objects serve as a source of economy and agriculture growth. Here there are different variations as well. Among these buildings you’ll find ports, farms, roads, mines and unique objects for construction. The development paths to them may bring in more economical, military bonuses or both.

Random events follow the common pattern. You will be told about the incident involved and then you can choose, how to react. Typically, the first option is an expensive solution requiring to spend resources, but in exchange it gives some positive effects in certain areas. For example, you can finance a religious ritual to get the improved land fertility for the next year or to hire a master of bow to train more skilled archers for some seasons.

Sometimes, after a successful battle in Total War: Shogun 2 you will be offered to promote one of the talented field commanders to a General’s position. In Asia the dynasties played a very important role at that time just like nearly in all the Total War series. Family members and generals die of natural causes or in combat, though they can also fall victims to enemy assassins, but the maturing of the younger generation takes time. That’s why it is better to think about the replenishment of staff resources beforehand so as not to be afraid when your advisers will offer to order seppuku to one of your subjects losing loyalty. A positive decision here can support Daimyo’s honor.

The clan leader can appoint heirs, arrange marriages of available daughters, develop ties to direct relatives in order to strengthen the family. Supporting your people, while caring about their needs, as well as strictly following samurai traditions will help to raise your faction’s prestige. Between your generals you can distribute positions in the military, supply, construction or financial offices, what in turn will bring certain benefits to armies under their command or to the whole clan. However, firing a person from such office will severely damage his loyalty, when doubts do arise and he becomes vulnerable to enemy bribery attempts.

During the diplomacy talks in Total War: Shogun 2 you will be greeted by animated leaders of other factions, displaying some emotions while keeping their heads cool. You can arrange transit rights, broker trade agreements, make alliance, pay or demant tribute and even offer your family members as hostages, whose lives serve as a guarantee for keeping your promises. In comparison with other games in the series, signing a trade agreement has become much more difficult, but for any reasonable offer your partner is ready to announce his own terms, usually indicating the amount of money for which he intends to accept your proposal.

Knowledge is Power

Technology tree in the game opens up around 42 new discoveries. The way of Chi is linked with social and economical advancements, helping to improve the administration, agents and resource management. On the opposite lies the way of Bushido. The warriors’ technology path opens up the construction of new mganificient military academies and buildings, where you will be able to recruit more powerful units or get bonuses to their characteristics and experience, for example, fastening all your archers’ reloading rate.

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Secret operations in Total War: Shogun 2 become pretty important, if you want to quietly corrupt your rivals assets’. Ninja are endowed with skills of sabotage, espionage and assassination. Geisha can serve as a high-level killer too, while the Metsuke enforce the secret police role trying to apprehend enemy agents or to bribe some public figures. The monks are helping the clan’s religion to spread in any territories they visit.

There are two religion states available in the game: Buddhism and Christianity, with the latter one being imported by Nanban traders. Visiting sailors from Europe (Dutch and Portuguese as we guess) will try to expand the influence of their homeland’s faith, periodically offering to open a new port in one of your cities. If you agree to this, in exchange for cash benefits and faster access to gunpowder weapons you would have to deal with the additional discontent among the populace. Religious conflicts, therefore, contribute to possible riots strengthening the rebels’ power.

However, you do not necessarily have to accept an offer coming from overseas merchants in Total War: Shogun 2. With your monks you can keep up the old Faith strengthening it in various territories you choose, where needed. There is a chance to change clan’s religion manually with an order of Daimyo, but there isn’t a turn back after that, while the reigh of this Daimyo continues. The game shows its flexibility here allowing to stick to any option you desire.

RPG-elements in the sequel have evolved greatly. All the generals and agents now have their own skill trees. Thus, for a ninja you can add bonuses to espionage, sabotage, assassination attempts, success chance rate or the safe escape possibility. If you look at a general, here you can make stronger his bodyguards, bring advantages to certain types of troops or obtain administrative benefits, for example, cheaping the upkeep for the army under the command of a certain person.

In addition, all characters from Total War: Shogun 2 can pick up to three retainers granting even more benefits to their master be it greater protection or honor contribution. Like in previous games in the series, negative traits can be gained automatically carving out an unique strenths and weaknesses balance. Military units also gain experience during glorious battles. There are unique formations and special abilities unlocked by the technology and skill trees expanding your opportunities.

On the battlefields commanders have got more choices as well. You can not only inspire your troops to fight bravely this time, but also to select regroup points. Archers still have fire arrows, and cavalrymen can engage enemy on foot. What is more intriguing, their horses can be scared off by a simple enemy infantry raid. The animals will scatter all around the area turning your cavalry unit into an infantry one till the end of the current battle.

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Following Sun Tzu Advice

Total War: Shogun 2 is focused on the Samurai era, and various military changes have been implemented to the battle AI and tactical options in the game. On the campaign map your rivals behave, according to the chosen level of difficulty. Often they prefer to form a somewhat weaker, but very numerous army, gradually upgrading the contingent, rather than waiting for the technology breakthrough or playing defensive. The allies will gladly provide assistance marching their armies to aid friends in a difficult war, and the alliances overall in the game are more stable.

While testing out the Normal difficulty mode, we noticed that enemies tend to avoid hiring special forces in favor of regiments suited for direct combat, even if they possess the necessary structures. In addition, opponents actively employ all the available agents, boldly attack sea trade routes of their rivals, though rarely use fleet for troop transport or ports’ blockade.

The AI on the campaign map in Total War: Shogun 2 cleverly develops ninja and other agents’ skills with selecting easier missions to reach success more often. A newly hired Metsuke will have a hard time trying to remove a skilled opponent from the map. Agents appear the same turn you employed them now, but they will be available for orders only at the next turn.

All the ground battles can be separated in two categories: open land ones and sieges. Much here depends on weather (in the rain you can not use fire arrows) and visibility conditions: at night times, in foggy or forest areas it is more difficult to observe the surroundings. The sides deploy their troops, and afterwards you can hear an inspiring speech sounded out by your commander. This feature came back to the series reminding us of Rome: Total War (2004). Each message is formed dynamically showing the encouragement of soldiers before a battle starts. Sometimes generals cheer up their own warriors, and in other cases they prefer to present opponents as a weak and easy to defeat force.

Units in Total War: Shogun 2 can group together, pick a united formation, use loose or tight forming, plus they have access to various unique skills, some of them will be familiar to you, if you played other games in the series. However, fire arrows now look more deadly. A concentrated volley of friendly fire can burn down an enemy target almost completely if it isn’t protected by heavy armor.

Sieges now go very differently. Firstly, you don’t have to wait to prepare siege engines (though you can hire them in appropriate town academies), since all foot soldiers can climb up walls. Yet, you still have the option to starve out the defenders, if you keep on sieging for several turns. Citadels are built in coastal, mountain or land areas, what affects their topogragy and terrain maps.

The most appealing to defenders are the costal and mountain castles, since it is easier to defend them using advantages of height and other natural obstacles. The citadels are built in layers, where you have to fight for courtyards to advance to the main keep on top. Each area has its own defenses like gates, walls and towers shooting arrows at the enemy. The defensive line in any layer can be used by any side after capturing the appropriate flag.

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Siege battles in Total War: Shogun 2 are very intriguing supplying you with a host of various tactical approaches you could use. For example, you can position your archers on the wall, but then they will hardly resist enemy swordsmen climbing up from ground. The greater the walls are, the higher are the chances to follow down for some soldiers trying to get to the top. The attacking side can bring in mangonel units destroying various parts of the castle, and there are also European cannons at present in the game, if you invest enough to get them.

However, when attacking a castle, you shouldn’t damage your further property too much, since you will have to fund the repairs, which can be costly. This time bringing damaged building to operable state will require paying up to 5-50% of the initial value depending on their condition. If an enemy counterattacks the next turn, you will have to defend your newly conquered assests in a severely ruined citadel defenses.

We have already mentioned scaring off horses in Total War: Shogun 2, but there are many tactical tricks like this you can master. For example, your archers positioned on the walls are very vulnerable to enemy arrows coming from the flanks. That is why it is very important how you place your soldiers inside your castle. The attacking rival will surround your citadel forming a ring around it, and you have to defend all the points to avoid the enemy entering your keep.

The enemy AI doesn’t only concentrate on the direct storm routine. Some of its forces can be positioned in forests making ambushes for your cavalry planning to sally out. There is always a chance of opposition sending a small group of warriors behind your lines to try to reach the keep fast, when you are distracted on the front lines. You can’t just bulk up your forces at a single gate trying to hold it anymore, since it will probably be the fastest way to achieve defeat.

Usual land battles in Total War: Shogun 2 showed us AI improvements too. Once we were fighting an enemy on the battlefield separated by a river with two crossigns. A rival tried to confuse us marching back and forth between these two points and then quickly splitting his forces, sending archers to assist in capturing the bridge, where there weren’t arrow volleys threat to them. The other half of the forces traveled to the second crossing engaging units there. These clashes turn out to be very intense making you change your mind quickly as the events unfold.

Behind Enemy Lines

Special forces are units with unique abilities for covert operations on the battlefield. You can win a siege not only by wiping out all the defenders, but by capturing the flag at the main keep as well. It offers you an option to distract the main parts of an enemy’s army to rush behind the lines and use your ninja to silently occupy the heart of an enemy’s stronghold. Fightning ninja are saboteurs. They possess smoke grenades and unuqie hiding ability allowing them to approach to a target silently or evade the chasing guards.

You can stick to European firearms or wait till you are able to arm your Samurai with rifles the other way, though it might take more time in Total War: Shogun 2. Gunpowder weapons fire deadly and somewhat accurate volleys, but longer reloading makes them the most useful during the first strike, when you can try to demoralize your enemies. It isn’t just about numbers.

Those who are unsure about their own safety and their commander’s initiatives will run from the battlefield really quickly. The constant struggle between the morale bars can actually decide the fate of a huge battle. It can help to a certain degree if you use your general to encourage troops and rally them, but you have to be careful to keep him alive to avoid worse consequences in all areas.

The enemy AI in Total War: Shogun 2 prefers to take to battle clan leaders and their closest relatives, so you’ll often see several VIPs traveling alongside armies. There are other notable units like the minor heroes commanding the elite versions of the various troop types. Their legends are based on mythological and historical stories or fiction.

They are very powerful, yet vulnerable in certain areas like arrows, especially because their regiments are much smaller than their ordinary counterparts: Ashigaru and Samurai. When you finish the development of a military academy to a famous martial school, you’ll get access to these special characters.

Total War: Shogun 2 will supply you with a formidable opponents, who are more decisive and bold in their actions following the famous Art of War tractate created by Sun Tzu in VI century BC. With this siege battles will actually make you defend, rather than trying to sally out to help a battle lead to any result.

On the other hand, if you are attacking an enemy’s infantry, where no bowmen are present, then the foot soldiers can stand still getting arrow shots or move from point to point occasionally. In fact, we find it is convenient that in such cases the opposition doesn’t try to prolong the duration of a battle aritificially. Even more: defenders can rush forward to you as soon as you climb up the walls.

Automatic battles resolve feature has become a lot smarter. Now you will win not only if you employ more soldiers in an army, but also if they or their leader are more experienced. Yes, the result is still somewhat unknown, since you don’t have information about the casualties you’ll sustain if you resolve battles instantly. Though if you try to provide personal guidance in Total War: Shogun 2, you can always get more experience, awards and save the life of your men. The costs for achieving victory will be lower at most times, when you engage the enemy directly on the battlefield.

Oared Fortresses

In terms of naval combat oared ships ease units’ management. Though there are vessels equipped with sails, they differe more with the specific roles in the sea. Faster turning is important, since the shoreline is now at present, and on the campaign map you can’t get away too far from it too to avoid attrition effect, which is also at present for armies located in enemy territories during winter time.

Total War: Shogun 2 has approximately 10 times less available units, but that is where quantiy turns into higher quality. You will actually want to use all of the available types for certain tasks: militia for defense, spearmen against cavalry, archers against infantry and so on. On the opposite, there are many more alterntatives for the seas this time. You can recruit a weak mobile ship or a heavy floating fortress filled with soldiers, a boat equpped with fire bombs or even a European caravella armed with cannons.

Ships not only have huge visual differences, but also unique characteristics as well. One has more archers and is best in raining down arrows on top of enemy’s sailors. The other one will be better when boarding enemy vessels having more melee armed soldiers. After combat a newly captured ship can join your fleet, but you will have to finance its upkeep since them. During the set up phase, there is a possibility to lay mines to lure your opponent to them later on.

The archers of some boats in Total War: Shogun 2 can shoot fire arrows damaging the target’s hull what in turn lowers moral of its crew. Yes, there is an option for conducting repairs at sea, but if you use it, you will actually take out attacking and defensive capabilities for the ship in question till the repairs are finished.

A new shoreline area on the naval battle maps in the sequel isn’t just a visual feature, but a tactical one as well. Large ships can’t enter shallow water, but arrows still can fly over it, what allows ambushes to be placed in key channels or between the islands. Also it is helpful to use any coastline to defend your own ships from flanks.

When you hire a new unit for the first time in Total War: Shogun 2, you’ll see an introductory videoclip helping to understand what is special about it, and what’s the best way to use it in battles. Videos also accompany the most actions undertaken by your agens and important global events like falling of a particular Great clan. Espionage, sabotage and assassination actions short in-game movies not only reflect some of that era’s history, but are also combined using various scenes: introduction, culmination and ending showing the fate of your subordinate trying to fulfill your task.

Interface in the new game received some major tweaks. It is much more compact and very stylish, though at a first glance it is really difficult to distinguish one eastern drawing icon from another in terms of units these cards represent. Certainly, this high-quality art does its best to stay close to the feudal Japan, just it isn’t always convenient.

For some time we used the sorting order to quickly determine units’ types Total War: Shogun 2. In the current rosters the general comes first, then cavalry, infantry, archers and so on. The floating tool tips help a lot as well. We remember that earlier in some games of the series units in a roster were sorted according to the moment of their inclusion into armies.

The troop’s banner now reflect the regiment’s condition. Units losing men will have torn banners visible on the campaign map as well. Each battle in the main single-player mode can be saved to show a replay to your friends in future or, find out mistakes that were made by both sides or to learn some new tactical tricks.

Civilization-style encyclopedia in Total War: Shogun 2 is filled with icons, formatted lists, texts and hyperlinks. It is convenient to travel between pages learning more about various features, units, buildings, agents, skills and so on. Moreover, the developers have managed to integrate the whole manual into this help section, what is rather original for the industry, where most titles are still supplied with bulky PDF-guides. A detailed search function though would come in handy for sure in future.

The game has proved itself very stable. For our hours of playing we haven’t met a single critical issue to speak of. There were some minor glitches with pathfinding: once our ship was stuck in an island on the campaign map in the Tutorial; during sieges friendly forces can’t locate the shortest way out of the castle preferring to use the farthest gates. At times it was difficult to preserve the guard mode, since any new attack order will actually make the units pursue the target to death even if it involves leaving the castle walls and marching to an enemy’s camp alone.

A couple of times with a smile we watched how one of the besieging units was shattered in battle and tried to retreat following the shortest possible route over the castle’s walls meeting some heavy fire there coming from the defenders. The retreating soldiers actually tried to storm the enemy walls thinking it’d be easier to run away through rival’s courtyard areas. Though we can admit that it was nearly impossible to inflict any serious damage to a unit having scattered its individuals all around the map in Total War: Shogun 2.

Several textual tooltips didn’t have enough space in the designed interface boxes to show all their content. Also we’d like to see some improvements in mouse scrolling speed of the main campaign map. It’d be even better to have a chance to tune it just how it is allowed with the Battle Camera. As for now, you have to hold your mouse cursor on a desired edge for a while till the map starts being scrolled. If you use WASD keys, then all the scrolling procedures are performed much easier.

Shogun’s Avatar

When the main campaign in Total War: Shogun 2 is over, you can look at the section of historical battles. Here you’ll see a selection or naval and land clashes happened during the years 1560-1600. If you have got access to downloadable content, then you will find additional scenarios here. additions. No doubt, over time this part of the game can be filled up with the release of more DLC.

The most changes are to be found in the multiplayer options in the sequel. This really shows huge progress towards widening the game’s replayability. Many of these new features we already highightlighed in our Preview some weeks ago, but now let’s summarize everything once more: the main campaign can be playable over the LAN or on the Internet, where along with your human partner you can try to achieve the goals.

There are more options for fine-tuning here allowing to make a flexible match configuration considering the fact that it can take time for both sides to implement their moves, though Total War: Shogun 2 has everything required to ensure that waiting times are minimal: even construction process is much more fast-paced this time, when you can easily select, what upgrades you need.

It is worth to note that there are still drop-in battles available in the single-player campaign mode. For the first time this feature was tested in Napoleon (2010). If you use it, the game will try to invite a human oppoonent, who will lead your enemy’s forces in your upcoming battle. There are some creative personal touches, when it comes to multiplayer hub. They are related to managing your general’s avatar. You can choose name, emblem, equip various pieces of armor demonstrating the glory of your achievements based on your success, where the conquests in the main campaign do also count.

You will get a budget to form an army and then travel to a smaller version of the feudal Japan map to move your leader’s token through various provinces fighting other human players for the right to become a Shogun. Land and naval battles will be available in multiplayer, and every conquered province in Total War: Shogun 2 will supply you with an unique bonus.

There is also a big skill tree for your military commander, a pool for nearly 70 retinues to choose from filling up to 5 available slots, special unlocks, the abilities to form clans and participate in their actions. Among the unique combat options in the multiplayer battle mechanics we see valuable strategic points on the map. Their presence is intended to induce the defender to be more versatile and not just to entrench an area standing still. Controlling important locations brings certain advantages: a troops’ morale boost, ammunition rezerves for the archers and so on.

The visuals of Total War: Shogun 2 show the technological evolution of the series. The developers have done a tremendous job for the production of animation, where some contribution was provided by the British Kendo Association and Bushido fighters. The skeleton of each unit is comprised of 52 different bones, which is a nearly 25% increase in comparison with previous games. One battlefield can host up to 56,000 soldiers fighting each other. It isn’t just a matter of scale, all the actions are presented in great details. When we watch over the events unfolding here, we notice nice special effects like burning damage.

English voice-overs are doing a good job with delivering a full array of emotions, although the number of replicas, simply acknowledging given orders, significantly decreased, in our opinion. It looks like that most of the required disk space for the game (nearly 20 Gb) mainly stores video and not audio assets. The soundtrack is amazing as well combining various melodies for peaceful times and war themes recorded with tones used at that historical period. There was no less seriousness in terms of sound effects. The realistic weapons’ clashes and noises made by marching soldiers wearing different types of armor were collected for the game taking into account various terrain conditions.

Final Impressions

The Total War series keeps on surprising us with the progress of its evolution both technologically and gameplay wise. We have been playing Total War: Shogun 2 for dozens of hours, and it is rather difficult to stop, but instead it is actually even more enticing to replay the main campaign once more leading a different clan this time, inviting a friend to conquer the territories of feudal Japan together or to engage in fierce multiplayer battles. The Creative Assembly has created a great strategy title that is able to entertain you for days, nights, weeks and months after its release.

See also: Interview about the game.

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18.03.2011 | Reviews | Alex "Jace" Ivanchenko

Total War: Shogun 2

Total War: Shogun 2

Master the art of war to become the undisputed ruler of medieval Japan. In 2000, the Creative Assembly re-invented the strategy genre with Shogun: Total War, an unprecedented blend of 3D real-time battles and turn-based management game and the first offering in the multi-award winning series. With over 7 million units sold and universal acclaim from the press and community, Total War has consistently been at the cutting edge of the genre and is today one of the most successful PC franchises of all time.

In 2011, the makers of Rome and Empire: Total War will release the sequel to the game that started it all. Total War: Shogun 2 will take long-time veterans and newcomers alike to the next level of strategy gaming on PC. Based on 10 years of experience in making Total War, Shogun 2 is the perfection of the series with a new Artificial Intelligence (AI), revolutionary multiplayer modes, brand new campaign map options and epic 3D real-time battles.

It is the middle of the 16th century in Medieval Japan. The country, once ruled by a unified government, is now split into many warring clans. The player takes on the role of one Daimyo – the clan leader – and will use military engagements, economics and diplomacy to achieve the ultimate goal: re-unite Japan under his supreme command and become the new Shogun – the undisputed ruler of Japan. Set during the golden age of Samurai warfare, Shogun 2 brings to life the most turbulent period of Japanese history.

  • New Generation AI system. Developed according to Sun Tzu’s principles in the Art of War, the Artificial Intelligence constantly analyzes its situation and reacts to your every move with greater precision and variety;
  • New character progression. Choose from 9 different clans and compete on and offline for the undisputed supremacy of Medieval Japan. Gain experience to level up your own character-warlord as well as your generals and agents;
  • Total War redefined. Shogun 2 is the ultimate refinement of the original formula with a new, cutting-edge AI, more polish and online functionality than ever before. The result is the perfect mix of real-time and turn-based strategy gaming that invites both veterans of Total War and new players to experience the enjoyment and depth of the series;
  • Accessible and in-depth empire-building gameplay. A streamlined User Interface makes management of your kingdom much easier. Build and govern cities, recruit and train troops, conduct diplomacy and manage your agents – each feature is now introduced with comprehensive tutorials, gradually revealing the depth of the Shogun 2 campaign map – the heart and soul of the Total War experience;
  • A complete single and multiplayer offering. Play through the Main Campaign in single player or invite a friend online to play competitively or cooperatively in Campaign Multiplayer mode. Join 8-player multiplayer battles with your own upgradable avatar and climb the online Leaderboard to show the world who reigns supreme. Also including exciting new modes of team play for clans, a first in the Total War series;
  • Improved land and naval battle gameplay. Land battles never felt so realistic with new multi-staged castle sieges and terrain features changing according to the weather and time of the day – turning each engagement into a tactical challenge. Set buildings on fire to force garrisoned troops out and use your units’ special abilities to turn the tide of the battle. Naval combat also offers more variety with the addition of coastal battles. Islands can work as effective cover for your ships, while sand bars and reefs can be used as traps against an enemy fleet.
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Review » 1

Total War: Shogun 2
The sequel shows improvements in all areas. When you spend some time with the game, you will surely note, how carefully the developers were treating not only the ideas of the original title, but also everything that was introduced to the series later on. More »
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Features » 1

Laurence Tully & Kieran Brigden (The Creative Assembly)
We really enjoyed discussing the upcoming Total War: Shogun 2 with Kieran Brigden, the Studio Communications Manager at The Creative Assembly. It allowed us to learn many new interesting features of the project, which we can't wait to start playing! More »
| Features

Videos » 1

Kieran Brigden (The Creative Assembly)
Kieran Brigden, the Studio Communications Manager at The Creative Assembly (the development studio behind Total War) makes a great presentation about the history of the Total War series to the Russian press and retailers at the IgroMir 2010 games expo. Length: 7 minutes and 12 seconds. More »
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