Total War: Shogun 2 Review

I had originally played the first Shogun title way back in the day on an old PC that could run that program decently well. Many years later, The Creative Assembly released Total War: Shogun 2 with many upgrades learned from their previous titles.

Total War: Shogun 2 is the most recent RTS title that I have played and probably the first PC title that I was actually able to run at a great pace.

But with all the bells and whistles, Total War: Shogun 2 is a masterpiece to look at. Though I was running the title on a Core i7, 6 GB Ram, and 1GB GeForce 460M.

Dividing the mechanics into two parts, the title features the more RTS building function during the main portions of the campaign and the battle mechanics during conflicts.

The campaign mechanics have players overseeing an entire clan. Through commerce, war, and diplomacy, it is possible to work towards becoming the ruler of Sengoku Jidai or be decimated through excessive short-term expansion.

One of the best features of the title is simple: it gives open choices. Players can focus on building commerce and establishing themselves as powerhouses with huge amounts of funds. Or they can work to build large armies who push into other territories.

The Creative Assembly included many options in the maintenance of the clan chosen, through studying the Art of War or the Art of Trade, watching over the Generals and descendants of the clan, and upgrading the towns that are controlled.

A lot of time can be spent deciding how to succeed in Total War: Shogun 2, but eventually players have to expand to bring in more funds to assist in growing into a dangerous warlord.

The battle system is recognizable, but unfolds in different ways from other RTS titles. Starting with spear-men and archers, the early stages of battle focus more on sheer numbers and how fast players react to the AI.

Further into the campaign, battles include ninjas, trained samurai, cavalry, and siege weapons to decimate strongholds and opposing armies. In these cases, it is less about numbers and thinking ahead of the enemy. Just because you might outnumber the AI, they could be slowly moving a smaller, more powerful force to flank out of nowhere.

Even though it is possible to win many of the battles, simply moving a massive army from place to place will weaken expansion because opposing clans and possible uprisings from the peasants can cripple this plan of action. I found this out first hand, having only taken two strongholds and eventually losing three.

The battles show off the power behind Total War: Shogun 2. It is amazing to see samurai fight one another on the ground or view the battle from an aerial view. The different classes of soldiers all react in different ways, and routing an entire army is a great sight to see.

Keep in mind, a strong system is necessary to see all the great visuals of Total War: Shogun 2, but the RTS in the campaign and battles will still shine through.

Along with the campaign, Total War: Shogun 2 features historical battles during the Sengoku Jidai, where players can take sides and try to change the outcome that was previously recorded. These battles do require a lot of experience in the battle system because starting with these battles will probably end up in defeat because the AI is much smarter and trickier sending waves of soldiers against players from many different angles.

The work that The Creative Assembly inserted into Total War: Shogun 2 makes the title one of the best experiences that I have had with an RTS title and one of my favorite for PC. The difficultly of the title might turn off some, but the expansive experience that the title offers, a full Western-focused Japanese experience, can’t be denied.

While I still haven’t been able to become Shogun, each time I win or lose, I learned something about how to play smarter.

Total War: Shogun 2 is one of the best RTS titles out now. The management system takes a little time to learn, but the battles are some of the best ever.

Review Copy Provided by Publisher