Shogun 2: Total War is a return to the series long forgotten predecessor and by all means an improvement upon the original as a full fledged remake. Through improvement of multi-player, single player, game play, and graphics this sequel to beloved franchise continues to thrust audiences into shock and awe.
Shogun 2: Total War capitalizes on its improved graphics as well as a compelling, challenging and addictive single player or multi-player campaign. In the campaign the player leads as shogun in large variety of clans expanding your empire in Japan inching closer to one day conquering as emperor whether it by diplomacy, warfare or any number of ways.
One of the astounding things about Shogun 2 is the amazing fulfillment of the idea of mass warfare where its previous predecessor Napoleon had run dry. Although plagued by a number of bugs and errors since release the excitement and challenge thereby still exist noticeably in the multi-player where a redefined level of progression exists through the creation of each players very own Avatar, to which can be dressed and changed according to armor, weapons and sets of either earned through achievements and victory. On top of this an improved and more sophisticated leader board has been implemented where by victory each player can fight for the role of Shogun.
The realism behind the total war series has captivated audiences for over a decade and only moves to astound players once again as the progression of further animation in running, walking, fighting, and dying in particular immerse the player deep into the brutal feudal days of Japan. Every battle cry and every arrow fired tops even your wildest dreams after you saw The Last Samurai.
Following whole heartily with the franchise, Shogun 2 cashes in on the system of control and simplistic User interface of its predecessors. Although somewhat confusing to start the game offers a detailed tutorial as well as handicaps for the player to adjust whether they just want to watch armies clash and not worry about taxes or maintain peace.
All around, Shogun 2 astounds its fan base despite its buggy release and proves to be a reinvention of a series some saw as an empty pursuit for cash. An exciting time killer and no doubt one to cash in on sentimental value for the late night and casual gamer alike.
Solid production values don't save this uninspired clone from tedium. Could be any of the previous TW games repainted.
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
I had great fun playing TW games in the past, and I don't begrudge newcomers to the series their kick at the cat so to speak. Having said that, I can't really find anything to redeem this newest offering. I haven't finished a campaign, and I probably won't. The simple reason behind this is as follows: I'm playing the same formulaic game that I started playing in TW Rome . So the paint has changed, the voices have changed, the cut-scenes have changed, but the game play is stubbornly planted in the exact same spot as it has been for what, ten years now? Isn't anybody else getting bored with this?
I know the developers would be taking a huge risk by deviating from a proven best-seller system, so I guess that not much from me is going to sway the design process in the future, but I reserve the right to forewarn veteran strategy gamers the there really isn't anything new to see here, folks. The presentation , graphics, and programming are typically TW solid, but graphical changes and programming tightness don't satisfy me as a gamer. The overall sense of fun has languished for me in the long succession of cookie-cutter TW games. Sorry.
A fun game with some definite improvements over the earlier TW games but some of the design choices confound.
40 to 100 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Don't believe the hype"
To start I should mention I love the Total War series, it's the best blend of overarching strategy and battle RTS I've found to date. This isn't to say the series has been without fault *Cough* Empire..*Cough*, from somewhat lackluster battle map A.I to bugs it's had its share of issues.
Shogun 2 largely improves on the earlier TW series games, obviously the graphics have been improved, that's a given. However in this particular TW game diplomacy actually WORKS...for the most part, but we'll get to that later.
On top of that, the A.I seems marginally improved, no longer will enemy armies siege your city with no equipment and then wait outside your walls having a sip of tea and maybe some crumpets. Forcing you to come attack them when you're supposed to be the defender.
Also no longer does the player automatically lose if the timer runs out, rather hated that in MTWII. Additionally the Japanese voice overs of battle speeches and unit voices are done well, though why the instructions and diplomacy talks with other daimyo was relegated to being done in a terribly accented English is an odd choice.
Though some seem to like it, others don't. I would've preferred they stuck to Japanese with subtitles throughout, instead of the terribly cliched accent, it's a minor gripe however.
On to why I say the A.I seems to be marginally improved at best, the enemy general still has a tendency to suicide charge himself directly into your forces. Typically in the first two to five minutes of a battle.
Also the Siege A.I isn't so much smarter as the game layout has been made easier for it. No longer does the A.I have to navigate streets. Because there are no streets...the Shogun 2 cities(pardon.."Castles") have been dumbed down so much that even at the largest citadels all you have is more walled flat levels with hardly a building in sight.
On top of this, the A.I doesn't siege...use towers, ladders...ballista because it doesn't have to, it can just climb your walls. Yup...climb right on up as if every Ashigaru in the army was really a skilled Ninja in disguise, which really means the A.I is less smart than the playing field has been brought down to its level. Seeing as climbing does have you lose troops from falling there is also a safer but more time consuming option to have your troops burn the enemy gates.
However in all my hours of play I have never ever seen the A.I use this tactic, which goes to show you just how limited the Shogun 2 A.I really is. This is not to say the A.I cannot be somewhat challenging in certain circumstances, but the people lauding the Shogun 2 A.I as the all around best TW A.I to ever exist seem to be forgetting how simplified some of Shogun 2 really is.
Unit balance in SP seems to be pretty bang on, which is a plus. Mostly Shogun 2 follows the rock paper scissors hard counter format. However in multiplayer there is still your typical whining "Stop spamming monks zomg!".
As to the battles on the battle map itself, the action seems to be faster and more arcade format. Troops rout faster, die quicker and battles generally move at a faster pace. This is great if you enjoy quickly crushing your enemies, but for those of us that like to watch our troops demolish(or be demolished by) the enemy as we giggle with glee it is a bit disappointing as some battles will be over before you can finish issuing commands to all your forces.
An option to slow down the action perhaps would have been appreciated.
Shogun 2's sound is terrific, the soundtrack fits perfectly and doesn't seem overly forced or cheesy, the battle sounds are well done and the ambient noises are a joy to listen to.
I should mention one of the most idiotic design choices in the game, it has good intentions and is a fantastic idea. However the implementation is nothing short of hideous.
That is to say, once your clan reaches a certain level of notoriety the current Shogun will declare you enemy of the state, as it were. This has the effect of putting a -200 point penalty onto all of your relations with other clans. This of course rises as the turns go by, ensuring that even a staunch ally or vassal will quickly turn on you and find a place to stick a pointy object.
It seems decent enough...if you throw out all logic and any semblance of economic or diplomatic play. It essentially turns the whole of Japan against you cutting off all trade, diplomacy then halfway through the game is utterly useless. So while diplomacy has been improved from earlier TW games with the ability to have marriages between clans and actually have working diplomatic consequences...you still manage to be incapable of using it for half the game.
If you enjoy just steamrolling over all of Japan like a big Oriental wrecking ball than this might not be a big issue for you, however for anyone that actually likes to play out the overarching strategy map to any real effect it will come as a shock and disappointment.
This however has a mod that can fix or remove realm divide entirely, thus it's not a game breaking concern.
The blood DLC also has a tendency to cause odd flickering issues with dead bodies and arrows and blood spatter sometimes. Annoying but not the end of the world.
All in all Shogun 2 is incredibly fun and some issues with it such as RD and end dates can be changed with mods, as long as you go into it without overinflated expectations you'll find a great game. Just keep in mind that this IS a TW game and some of the same gripes from the earlier games still apply, if only masked marginally better.
Really fun, must have for any strategy fan.
20 to 40 Hours
The Bottom Line:
This game is simply one of the best strategy games I have played to date, which there have been quite a few.The units are cool, detailed and look great. The idea that your ally can turn on you in a matter of moment means that you have to carefully chose who your allies are as their enemies quickly become yours. The game types are also quite fun and can cause days lost to the computer. The sea battles are really good as are the land battles and the auto-resolve saves so much time. The tech system had me and most likely everyone else planning out 3 to for techs a head and they certainly make a difference, as proof would be 2 5 star generals clashing both with identical army set ups, (I know right what were the odds), however I managed to prevail due to slightly higher attack and defence bonuses due to tech. The city building system was also really interesting and had me playing even when I had conquered Japan. just to max out every city which took a while. It also adds the concept of keeping troops in the city because why would you want to lose your beautiful city.Overall a great game which will most likely keep most players in trapped for a few months if not longer and a definite have for any strategy fan.
A good Total War game is in here somewhere, but its hidden by bugs, balance issues, and general brokenness.
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
Well lets start off by saying that this is a Total War game, and thus should be a wonderful strategy game to make veteran wargamers weep tears of joy. Shogun 2 is not this, no Shogun 2 is the Total War game with broken....well everything for the most part. Lets examine the Difficulty I gave first- Very Hard. This game is not very hard because the A.I. was expertly programmed by strategic geniuses, no this game is very hard because the A.I. is incapable of translating player commands into what the player actually wants done. Want to do a cavalry charge? Well just try to give that squishy unit of undefended infantry two clicks (one to attack, two to make your unit run to attack) and your cavalry will run weapons pointed at the enemy, ready to kill those....wait did they just stop directly in front of them?? Yes, yes they did and now the cavalry that should be incredibly strong against infantry are all dead in pools of their own blood and incompetence. And as this is a Total War game archers are not the historically accurate ranged killing machines but squishy piles of nothing that ineffectually throw small pebbles at the enemy. So that leaves your effective roster of units with infantry, so I decided what the hey Ill just choose the faction that specializes in sword infantry and pump them up and I should have a decent chance right? Wrong, your infantry are all comprised of small children that are more likely to stab themselves with that masterwork sword then they are the hordes of merciless killing machines the enemy is equipped with. And that brings me to the way you level up your Family Members and Generals (the only units that can act as governors for your cities and without one in an army your troops are even worse then normal) who as stated fulfill a role not only as warriors but also as statesman, treasurers, all number of things peace related. They have a wonderful assortment of Perks to choose from at level ups that have such varied effects as making the city they are in happier to bonuses to their personal attack power. And seeing how half their duties are peaceful, just sticking them in a city should level them up for that right? Wrong, you can only get a wonderful peaceful poet governor by having him slaughter X number of random enemies which is a jarring idiosyncracy to say the least. So heres how a typical grand campaign goes, create units to have your general lead to their deaths in battles that you resolve automatically because the inevitable loss of half your force is better then the loss of its entirety you would incur if you foolishly dared lead it yourself, realize that each unit has such a large upkeep cost that at the beginning of the game keeping a single overmap unit at full strength (and it must be at full strength because if not then every single battle you undertake against even ONE unit will result in failure) quickly bankrupts you, quit game and pop in Rome Total War to get the bad taste out of your mouth. But hey on the bright side, Shogun 2 has nice diplomacy :P