The Total War series is renowned for its blend of complex management of one's empire and intense combat that forces you to fully understand the troops in play as well as the terrain. The latest offering from developer Creative Assembly has brought one of Total Wars most loved versions back with the release of Total War: Shogun 2. Fans of the Total War series will absolutely love this game, but the real draw comes from a more streamlined experience that will allow those individuals who found other versions of Total War to be too complex to jump right in.
Being someone who isn't superb at the more realistic strategy games out there, I was hesitant to begin my journey towards becoming the all mighty Shogun. Your task throughout the campaign is basically to take over enough territories and exert your dominance to be crowned Shogun. After playing games like Napoleon: Total War, and getting destroyed at every combat opportunity, I knew I was going to have to ease my way into this one to hopefully understand the concept a little better.
You're greeted at the beginning of the game with an awesome cutscene featuring two samurais engaged in some crazy sword-fighting. This gives a very nice taste as to what you can expect from Shogun 2 in terms of presentation. The graphics throughout every aspect of this game are incredible. The campaigns take place primarily on two types of boards. There is a map that shows all of the provinces which are held by numerous clans. You will be spending a lot of time here primarily moving your forces through the land and managing your clan along with your relation to other clans. The subtle touches to this layout like the water effects, the differing types of landscapes, and watching the world change between seasons, helps immerse you into the scale of the gameplay.
The other type of board you will be playing on involves much closer confrontations in battles that can play out in numerous ways. Everything in this mode, from the landscapes to the troops themselves, looks amazingly detailed. The armor glistens and the fields look like war torn areas once a huge battle ends. I was constantly surprised with how deep the detail truly is. Seeing wounded soldiers crawling on the ground in last ditch efforts to escape or riderless horses scampering off the battlefield brought a much needed level of immersion to such an intricate game.
Just jumping into a campaign with no knowledge of what's going on is a sure fire way to make you hate this game. Luckily, Shogun 2 has a very well done tutorial campaign that helps you figure out exactly what you need to do in order to succeed in every mode of play. It has been a long time since I could honestly say that a tutorial was actually intriguing, but the way everything is presented in Shogun 2 really made me want to take in a as much information as possible.
My absolute favorite thing about this game though is that you can play it in so many different ways. If you don't enjoy the battles, or feel overwhelmed by them, you can choose to auto-resolve them and focus solely on managing your clan. You can also choose to fight every battle, and let me tell you that some of the larger battles will take awhile to complete. There were times where I would auto-resolve most of my battles because I wanted to progress further as a clan, but then I would get blood-thirsty and start trying to make the biggest and baddest army out there just to charge them headfirst towards victory firsthand. Shogun 2 really gives players every option they need to enjoy the game from whatever way they want.
The single player campaigns alone could keep you coming back to this game for awhile, but its the robust multiplayer experience that's sure to bring you back over and over again. You can venture online to take on individuals in online battles, or you can even go through whole campaigns cooperatively with friends. I found the coop mode to be fantastic as going through all the gameplay mechanics with a friend made the experience that much more worthwhile.
Shogun 2 is an absolutely amazing game by all standards, and if you have any interest whatsoever in this type of game you need to pick it up. It is evident that a massive amount of work went into making Shogun 2 applicable to a broader range of gamers, and this inclusion alone merits you to at least try it out. This game is extremely deep and I can guarantee that if you get into it you will most definitely lose track of time as you steamroll through your enemies on your quest to become the new shogun.
[Total War: Shogun 2] – $39.99 (PC)