Total War: Shogun 2 Review

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Xan Krieger:
Best in the series so far and I wonder where the series will go next.

Probably Rome 2 just to get the R:TW fans to finally shut up about it. Or they might pull a Napoleon:TW and focus on the campaigns of a single famous leader from around the same time period as Shogun... So possibly Total War: Nobunaga but I seriously hope not.

I'm still holding out for a Total War game set in the 3 Kingdoms period of China or, In my fanboy dreams, a co-developed project with Firaxis - Civlization: Total War.

rees263:

The only thing I'll add is that some of the more extranious features aren't always implemented so well. I have really yet to find diplomacy and religion useful (at least in M2) - I can't really fathom how things work, and it all comes down to builing a huge army and stomping everyone else anyway, so I'm not really sure what the point is. The best use I've found for diplomats is killing the enemy's to train my assassins XD

Diplomats are gone in Shogun 2 and you can talk to any clan you've encountered at any time (thank god), and diplomacy actually works. Becoming friends and allies in Shogun is a lot more solid then it was Rome/Medieval 2. Honour plays a part in how the clans act, unlike the backstabbing European settings were you can sign an alliance one turn, and the bastard will attack you the next. Pulling that crap in Shogun will annoy the other clans. It's nice to have the AI run in to SAVE you, rather then stick the boot in for once.

I honestly haven't noticed any performance hits, clipping or any of the other problems with the game. Then again my comp can run the game on high details without any problems, so maybe that's part of it. In any event, I agree that the AI still has some stupid routing problems and I really have to micro carefully, if I want my units to move from point A to point B in a logical way. Not that it bothers me that much in single player, but it is a problem in multiplayer.

Also....how can I make my cavalry and heavy infantry units move at the same pace across a field? The darn cavalry units keep charging ahead! Is it the formation I have chosen for my grouped units? I should look into that...

I got the game and it fucking owns. It is a really damn good games. Creative Assembly has failed to make a bad game...although the first Shogun was a little buggy. I give Shogun 2 a 10/10. It does what it is supposed to do with good graphics, beautiful scenery and a range of maps exploiting different tactics. The multiplayer is a little buggy in terms of the menu.

I'd like a game that works. The demo worked fine, but the full game will not load. The loading screen shows up and the computer reboots itself.

Poisoned Al:

rees263:

The only thing I'll add is that some of the more extranious features aren't always implemented so well. I have really yet to find diplomacy and religion useful (at least in M2) - I can't really fathom how things work, and it all comes down to builing a huge army and stomping everyone else anyway, so I'm not really sure what the point is. The best use I've found for diplomats is killing the enemy's to train my assassins XD

Diplomats are gone in Shogun 2 and you can talk to any clan you've encountered at any time (thank god), and diplomacy actually works. Becoming friends and allies in Shogun is a lot more solid then it was Rome/Medieval 2. Honour plays a part in how the clans act, unlike the backstabbing European settings were you can sign an alliance one turn, and the bastard will attack you the next. Pulling that crap in Shogun will annoy the other clans. It's nice to have the AI run in to SAVE you, rather then stick the boot in for once.

Wow, that sounds like a really great change. Will definitely be picking this up. I've loved the feudal Japan setting since Shogun 1 and the series has come such a long way since then.

The graphic's in this game is beautiful i'll give it that. And the battle's is fun to play, how the AI try to outflank you and try to position it's archers on high ground.
But when you play the campaign-map all you need is a few monks and a few ninja's. Seriously i took all of japan with them going from city to city. Using monks to start a rebellion in several places at once. Then using ninja's to halt the enemy's army so they cant intercept the rebellion in the other provinces. And for some reason the AI dont like going into a province that they lost. So in my army go to take a free province.

Me and you must be the lucky ones, it's not crashed on me either, only shitty steam has crashed in me, which is a given really.

But like you, I'm in love with this game at the moment. It seems......harder than other itterations, especially on the campaign map. I don't know how many goddamn ambushes I've walked into so far! And I thought these people were supposed to be honourable.

From the demo, it looks like a return to form. For some reason Empire didn't grab me in the same way that Medieval 2 did.

Loading times are longer, but I think other criticisms are a bit harsh, in terms of bugs/performance. I've not had any performance problems, and though there do seem to be some issues with multi-core computers, on the whole it seems pretty good. I've had two crashes, but then I've also played it A LOT. I had far more on Medieval 2 (many of them corrupting my saves, forcing a restart).

Bug-wise, it also currently seems much more polished than previous iterations - although pathfinding can be an issue yes - at least you address the bugs though: I've seen so many reviews (PC Gamer particularly) which completely ignored (and even refused to acknowledge them in the face of letters complaining to them) massive, game-breaking bugs of previous CA titles.

The campaign map is much more manageable than Empire or previous, much more detailed, and seems to have much more of an effect on the game. Crucially, it can be used to much more tactical effect. Heavy amounts of forest mean that setting up ambushes is easy - I've launched more ambushes in Shogun than all previous titles put together - and been a victim of a few as well. The way agents work is also vastly improved, so that its not pot-luck as to whether they die on the first mission or not.

The AI is also a tough one, particularly in the battles. What's thrilling (and devastating) is that it really uses speed to its advantage. The amount of times its swung cavalry round my flanks, then suddenly dived somewhere vulnerable and terribly killy, the cavalry charge launched so quickly that I can't react... well, its awesome.

I've had it two or three days and have already clocked 20 hours.... problem?

i love the Total War series, but especially after Empire (which was a step in the worng direction imho) i'm waiting till the mod community adds some realistical depth into the game and finetunes the combat as i'm not a big fan of the Vanilla gameplay. In contrast to the reviewer i want my TW experience to be filled with an huge amount of different units.

Huge amount of different units adds nothing, IMO. Here, the emphasis is on tactics, and the slight differences you get from veterancy, from regional bonuses, and from faction specialities. The tactics here are actually more involved than games with more units, as it forces you to use units in appropriate roles, rather than getting unit x, y or z and steamrolling, which is what many different units eventually ends up as. I much prefer this version to those that had loads of units (it also means i don't keep restarting to take advantage of other units...)

its a great game for sure but it has lots of small bugs and the graphics are not updated and are not shown in their full glory before a major patch

bugs include AI not working properly, your online avatar not showing as he should as your general but as your opponents general, faulty registering of matches won/lost when someone disconnects or doesn't etc.

and general hardware to software issues; for me it was no water at all for instance which was easily solved by going back a few drivers

the game itself has much more immersion then the last two, despite the shaky realm divide feature and the lack of hotseat (mod please :P)

wow I sound a bit negative but that's what you can expect in addition to a truly awesome and must buy game

Best TW i've played and i've played most of them, exception being Shogun1 and Medieval1. i have a really beefy rig and for the first time i can play the game on ultra settings and OMG is it an orgasm for the eyes. Watching No-dachi samurai charge into a rank of bow samurai and completely owning face never gets old!

Sounds good I will definitely check this out at some point, I've only just started playing Empire and Rome Total War. I have to agree with the reviewer the main problem I've had with the total war series is keeping track of all the stats in the strategic mode as an avid Civ player I have found the menus in total war to be incredibly fustrating and find the in game tutorials have are not very clear or helpful.

I now have the game 2 days and I must say that I totally love it.
Loading screens are taking a hell of a time to actually load though.
But I find it rather easy and nice.

I had a rough time with Empire to actually get money or be powerful though.
At the moment, I think Medieval 2 and Rome are my favourite but maysbe after playing more, Shogun 2 will also be there. Though I am more of a conquer Europe kind of guy.

Still need to try multiplayer though.
I'm gonna lose SO hard :(

Beyond the improvement to grapics, and making sieges more fun I found this game to be a huge step backwards from Medieval 2.

The scope of the game is just waaaaaaay smaller. A medieval 2 game could take me weeks to complete, same for Rome:TW, but in shogun I can finish one in a couple of days on the longest setting on the hardest difficulty. (I never played the empire ones since they didn't seem appealing, and from what I read they weren't as good either.)

The improvement to the way buildings are constructed (no more tedious queueing) has actually resulted in more boring gameplay despite being a good change. Why? Because now, instead of waiting for buildings to complete, we get to wait for the stupid tech trees to finish their tech advancements. I've lost count of the number of times where I've sat there pressing NEXT TURN over and over again to get a new advancement I'd need, while my gold piles up to the tens or hundreds of thousands.

The worst part for me, though, is how every single faction is basically identical. The Medieval or Rome games had wildly different factions in wildly different starting locations that played completely differently depending on their religion and units, while in Shogun 2 every faction is basically identical, the only real difference being some very minor differences to basic units. I'm pretty sure I can list every unit in the game off the top of my head right now after playing it for a week, and I've seen every area of the map. In Rome or Medieval, I played the games for months before I even saw half the world map.

Also, the Shogun 2 events are far less interesting than those of medieval. In shogun 2 you randomly get more food or income, in medieval the mongol hordes invade and destroy your entire empire if you're not prepared, and the "realm divide" event is far less interesting (since it's compeltely predictable and does the same thing every time) than having to deal with the pope in Medieval. That guy really had it in for me.

There are also many obnoxious limitations that don't make any sense except from a balancing-perspective, like how units can't be retrained or how disbanding decade old veteran units and training new ones from your, now upgraded, regions results in more experienced units with better equipment (bonus accuracy/morale/armor/weapons). At one point I realized that disbanding my veteran katana samurai and simply replacing them with normal ashugari (with +6 experience, +4 melee attack and +2 armor) resulted in more powerful units at a lower cost...

Overall it's not a bad game, but except for the (admittedly significant) improvements to how the battles look, the game doesn't begin to compare to Rome or Medieval 2, which is pretty disappointing.

Also, the character talent trees are boring. Every one of my generals basically end up the same, and the same goes for the rest of the characters. In the previous games the characters would develop in fairly random ways that made them feel like they had personalities. When a new son comes of age and he starts with the genius trait I knew I had to make that guy my future warlord, not to mention the sheer hilarity of seeing the ruler of the most powerful empire in the world possess a trait like
"Lacks Manhood: So short on self respect is this man that those who bed his wife laugh about it to his face... Just before passing water on his shoes. -4 Authority."
And the guy would have 10/10 authority in spite of it due to having cut a bloody path of genocide through the entire middle east. Now THAT is amusing, THAT makes me care about my characters. That they'd age and die rather swifthly also played a big role.

In shogun 2 I haven't had a general die to anything other than in battle. Even the clan leader would be alive and happy when 1600 rolls around, not that it'd matter anyway. They guy had 5 stars and maxed loyalty... but so does the heir... and the next 3 replacements in line. In rome/medieval I caerd about my faction leaders because it was bloody difficult to nuture a powerful leader. In shogun 2 all I need to do is throw some random dude into a half a dozen battles and he's already a legend. In medieval or Rome, a powerful general dying in battle, or even to old age, was a tradgedy, because it was fairly hard to get them to that level of expertise. In Shogun I don't really care when a general dies. Takes barely a handful of battles to get anyone to the same level as the guy who just died. Whatever.

Not that I have any choice in the matter. Apparently generals get better at managing TAXES by leading battles, for reasons beyond me.

ARGH! One thing bugs me about this review and every other Shogun 2 review I've seen so far. EVERYONE talks about how Empire had such huge variety of units and such. NO IT DID NOT! It had Line Infantry, Line Infantry and some more Line Infantry. It had terrible variety, all the european nations were almost identical, with the Marathas and Ottomans being unique in that they had really crappy Line Infantry. Compared to Medieval 2 or Rome, where most factions play drastically different (compare playing Romans, Bretons and Greeks in Rome, or Russians, Spain and Turks in Medieval 2) Empire was atrociously monotonous. It was one of the game's many shortcomings.

Sorry about the rant, it's just something that grates on my nerves every time I read/hear it...

RhombusHatesYou:

Probably Rome 2 just to get the R:TW fans to finally shut up about it. Or they might pull a Napoleon:TW and focus on the campaigns of a single famous leader from around the same time period as Shogun... So possibly Total War: Nobunaga but I seriously hope not.

I'm still holding out for a Total War game set in the 3 Kingdoms period of China or, In my fanboy dreams, a co-developed project with Firaxis - Civlization: Total War.

Yeah, that's what I thought too. A total war game, that includes the the bigger part of Asia. Or maybe even the whole world...

OH DEAR GOD IT'S BEEN THAT LONG ALREADY CHRIST I'M SO OLD

I remember how I played Shogun at my friend's house... I was under 10, so I didn't like it, it was too complicated and shit. Tried playing it recently, couldn't handle the low-res graphics. No, not the graphics themselves... It's just that the game doesn't recognize the new OS like Vista and 7. And probably XP as well. So I couldn't play in even half of my native resolution OR use windowed mode.

Oh well. Now I can make up for it.

Bought it and have been playing the SH!T out of it.... and alls I can say is wow. The level of detail in the combat is insane, the next time you storm a keep watch you units really closely. You will be amazed at the kind of moves being pulled in the combat.

Saw a rider getting hit with an arrow and instead of horse/rider dying on the spot like most total war games the horse keep moving forward and the rider fell off the back... the little gremlim at the controls in my brain leapt for joy.

Thus yet I havent encounterred any major problems apart from the fact that your men seem to be incapable of taking orders to charge through broken down gates. One unit can hold a gateway alone for ages this way as unlike some of the other total war games your men will not pile through. You can climb the walls if you wish but losing about 25% of the soldiers from climbing up an uncontested wall is a bit silly imo.

Naval combat is a bit meh (empires was far better due to your ships toting cannons) as alot of your ships have bowmen and not cannons. Ive been playing one campaign for a good few hours and I still havent reached cannons yet, theyre pretty far down the tech tree.

Small bit of advice, the AI is far better in the campaign and battles. Get used to the game before you crank up the difficulty.

Very happy with my purchase.

Azmael Silverlance:
Sometimes i find myself talkin in ENG with JAP ACCENT! Im so into it!

Guilty of that aswell.... BANZAIIIII

But the excessive micromanagement in the Campaign screen is the best bit of Total War games!

I won't get a gaming PC until I graduate until May. Damnit, I wanna play this NAO! >.>

got the game already, and its epic.

the graphics are ok on my 4 year old computer, and ive been a total war fan since the time i bought the original shogun.

dawn side, it glitches out like fuck all the time if i dont put the disc in.

thanks steam....

Having played the game solidly for a while and being an expert on the Sengoku period now, this is a very good game representation of the period.

winter2:
I love this game because of it's complexity. There is nothing like seeing a plan coming together. Most times I find myself skipping the battles just so I can go ahead and move my pieces accordingly.

I gotta go.. I have 3 armies pressing around Kyoto while also have a fourth army in the west keeping the pressure on the heathen enemies. Not to mention keeping my main sea routes clear..

:)

i completely do this.
i make all silly little stories up in my head about what im doing. it usually comes together like a plan.
napoleon as russia i had the nothern armies(3) and southern armies (2) with a fleet army(1) the fleet army racing around the globe taking down rouge island nations that are easily defencible
nothern armies taking on prussia and southern armies taking out istanbul.

OT: i imagine this game is alot like that in regards of taking stories for generals.
i really want this game. played the game since rome and loved everyone since. MICROMANAGEMENT FTW.

Emergent System:
Also, the character talent trees are boring. Every one of my generals basically end up the same, and the same goes for the rest of the characters. In the previous games the characters would develop in fairly random ways that made them feel like they had personalities. When a new son comes of age and he starts with the genius trait I knew I had to make that guy my future warlord, not to mention the sheer hilarity of seeing the ruler of the most powerful empire in the world possess a trait like
"Lacks Manhood: So short on self respect is this man that those who bed his wife laugh about it to his face... Just before passing water on his shoes. -4 Authority."
And the guy would have 10/10 authority in spite of it due to having cut a bloody path of genocide through the entire middle east. Now THAT is amusing, THAT makes me care about my characters. That they'd age and die rather swifthly also played a big role.

In shogun 2 I haven't had a general die to anything other than in battle. Even the clan leader would be alive and happy when 1600 rolls around, not that it'd matter anyway. They guy had 5 stars and maxed loyalty... but so does the heir... and the next 3 replacements in line. In rome/medieval I caerd about my faction leaders because it was bloody difficult to nuture a powerful leader. In shogun 2 all I need to do is throw some random dude into a half a dozen battles and he's already a legend. In medieval or Rome, a powerful general dying in battle, or even to old age, was a tradgedy, because it was fairly hard to get them to that level of expertise. In Shogun I don't really care when a general dies. Takes barely a handful of battles to get anyone to the same level as the guy who just died. Whatever.

Not that I have any choice in the matter. Apparently generals get better at managing TAXES by leading battles, for reasons beyond me.

i agree completely, biggest annoyances for me personnally are the small rosters, which yes, are accurate i guess. But people see this as a plus to the game while to me this is a huge minus, re-playability on medieval 2 was amazing, not to mention with a mod like stainless steel on it, you could play for months and months.

same stuff that annoyed me in empire and napoleon remains, the clunky way units pathfind or how horsecharges are terribly to do and so much easier to control in medieval 2. any charges really, if 1 guy gets caught behind an enemy the entire line falls apart and a charge loses all momentum. from a 120 man line of men, none of them can get a proper charge of cause the last guy on the flank accidentally engaged in melee. same for getting bowmen behind a line or manoeuvring troops from a flank, to behind your already engaged enemy to charge them in the back :(

i played some multiplay matches, avatar conquest mode, all of them were "general - 2 archer - 2 sword - 2 spear - 1 cav" or small variations on them and it was just a race for who could outmanoever the other faster and kill the general, all matches over in 5 mins max. like a starcraft match where all you could do is rush

BeepBoopBrother:
This game better have gotten 5 stars.
It was hyped to hell, even on here.

Which is precisely my problem with this review. I can't trust it after all the advertisement it's had on the Escapist.

Kragg:
how horsecharges are terribly to do and so much easier to control in medieval 2.

Yeah but it took, what? 3 patches before mounted charges actually worked in Medieval 2. Control didn't mean anything when your mounted troops stayed in 'run' mode instead of going into 'charge' mode (and giving all that useful charge bonus)

Take it from me. The review is spot on. Even the problems are correctly described. But still the game is awsome, I actually want to try out all the factions where as in Empire I usually only wanted to play either Britain, France, Spain or India.

The game rocks, your generals' abilities grow with you being allowed to choose the direction. Also the AI is crazy aggressive, well at least on the campaign map. So their is much more epic battles.

I bought this game on Friday and basicly did not leave my PC till Monday morning!

Great review, thankyou for giving an objective summarization of the game, but of course (as you said) if you're a fan of the Total War series, then nothing is going to sway you for getting this game.

I own every TW game thusfar, and even though my favourite is Medieval 2, I still have a problem with sequels, especially with TW games! There are so many other theatres of conflict in different time periods, we don't need to re-tread old ground. What about one of the hundreds of civil wars China had? Or conquest/colonisation of South America and Africa by European powers? Or even the very earliest wars in the world, like the Babylonian empire and the forging of the Arab empire in the middle-east, north Africa and Spain?

This is only a little grip, but it does irk me that this latest TW is an update of the first game. Still, this new game engine that CA are using has still yet to reach its potential, so I'm still ordering the game. Just wish the settings could be more diverse.

UtopiaV1:
I own every TW game thusfar, and even though my favourite is Medieval 2, I still have a problem with sequels, especially with TW games! There are so many other theatres of conflict in different time periods, we don't need to re-tread old ground. What about one of the hundreds of civil wars China had? Or conquest/colonisation of South America and Africa by European powers? Or even the very earliest wars in the world, like the Babylonian empire and the forging of the Arab empire in the middle-east, north Africa and Spain?

The two I have lobbied most for are Battles of the Bible and the American Civil War. Creative likes both ideas but remains unconvinced of their marketability. I get that with biblical period, but I just can't see why Sega doesn't think a Total War set during the American Civil War would actually sell.

According to Creative, there are three main criteria a Total War setting must meet. First, it has to involve conflict between numerous combatants who are all fairly evenly matched. Second, it must include some significant technological advances that change how the war is fought. Finally, the content has to be cool.

The American Civil War obviously doesn't meet the first requirement, and the biblical wars probably don't meet the third, although that's largely a matter of interpretation. Personally I think Hittites and Canaanites and Assyrians are cool.

It would be interesting to see games dealing with conflicts I don't know anything about (I know pretty much nothing about the military conflicts of mainland asia, for example), but how are you gonna sell a game with the title 'Total War: Conflcits Almost Nobody (in the west) Have Ever Heard Of'?

Rome, the middle ages, even the shogun games, they all have a nice huge reservoir of pop culture to draw people's interest from. Everyone learned about european history in school, and the presence of eastern culture is inescapable even in the west. Anyone who is even remotely in the target audience for a game like this knows what a ninja and a samurai is, and ancient japanese culture is very well stereotyped in most people's minds, through TV and movies.

What other historically volatile periods do people know enough about to care? Honestly, it would be pretty hard to get me to care about civil wars in ancient china, or fights between unknown tribes and kingdoms in the deserts of the middle east. The mongols seem pretty cool, but as far as I know they sorta just steamrolled every semblance of opposition they encountered.

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