Updated Wed, Mar 30, 2011 by Stow
In a declining PC market, Creative Assembly has taken a great risk in keeping true to its series with Shogun 2 : Total War. Unlike other sequels recently, Shogun 2 is just as complex as its predecessors in the grand scheme of things while only cutting back on the interface and trimming the fat of unused features of the last few games in the series. Rest assured that the Total War series has not been ‘consoleified’!
Even samurai have weaknesses, like flaming bombardment. Then again most things are weak to flaming bombardment...
For those of you that don’t know what Total War is all about, it’s about pure conquest. You have two main views of gameplay. The first is a strategic province map where you can select your next targets, move armies around, and fortify territory and relations with other countries, resembling something along the lines of Risk or Civilization. But where the gameplay really starts to shine is the tactical combat that happens when armies clash, where the gameplay zooms down to a more traditional RTS level, albeit with a few thousand troops on the field!
The resulting clash is a matter of tactics and rock-paper-scissors, as each troop type has a natural advantage over others. There are often neutral buildings on the battlefield though, and controlling those will give passive benefits to your army and prevent stalemate style tactics on open ground. When the battle is won, the province is captured and you’re one step closer to your ultimate goal—becoming the Shogun!
The attention to detail is outstanding, and it even looks this good in motion. That is, if you have a graphics card from the last 6 months.
There is one word for the graphics of Shogun II : stunning. Another phrase could be used too though and that’s ‘incredibly taxing’. While on the highest settings it’ll rock your world as men brandishing steel charge each other in bloody combat, it’ll also make your video card likely melt from the processing necessary. Even the map of Japan looks impressive as you zoom through it, with fog, crashing waves, and more to make each territory feel much more alive.
Is this a game worth upgrading for though? Perhaps not, but is there another strategy or tactics game in the near future that will push you that far? You might as well upgrade for this and the newest expansion to Dawn of War II because you’ll be hard pressed to get more impressive animations and scale than these games.