Eleven years ago, Creative Assembly revolutionised the strategy game with Shogun: Total War, a mix of 3D real-time battles and turn-based plotting. Now after exploring Rome, Medieval, Empire and Napoleon, the hugely bestselling franchise has come full circle with Shogun 2: Total War.
What immediately strikes you is the attention to detail that has gone into recreating the feel of 16th-century Japan, from the clothing of individual units to the style of the interface and the changing seasons of the maps – Shogun 2: Total War is clearly a labour of love by developers who care about history.
Newcomers benefit from an excellent range of tutorials to get them started, and seasoned campaigners have several new treats in store – as well as the challenge of a tightly focused campaign. Combat returns the emphasis to bows, swords and cavalry charges allied to new hero’ units, as well as assassinating ninjas, wily geisha and spy-spotting metsuke.
Multi-choice and multiplayer expansion
As the leader of one of nine clans, your goal is to capture Kyoto and become the new Shogun. Each turn changes the season, which means a different approach to your tactics, and each battle you win raises your level and unlocks new abilities and armour. Whether you choose the military or the civil path on your tech tree will have a decisive impact on your progress.
Simplified sea battles now jostle beside land combat, castle sieges offer five levels of lethal complexity and there’s a stunning range of multiplayer options in which your customisable avatar conquers land, upgrades a completely separate tech tree and plays co-op with up to eight players. Although there a still a few minor issues with unresponsive AI, this is without doubt Total War’s finest hour.
- Vastly expanded single and multiplayer gameplay options.
- Minor niggles with sluggish AI.
Creative Assembly has used its ten years of experience to craft the finest Total War game yet, with astonishing levels of detail and a broad expanse of gameplay challenges that will engross newcomers and veterans alike.