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3.2 out of 5 stars156
3.2 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
About a decade ago Shogun: Total War was the masterpiece that launched one of the best Strategy simulation franchises in gaming history. It was a perfectly balanced game that combined turn-based strategic decisions with real time battles in a beautiful interface made in the style of medieval Japanese artworks.
The game was based on the teachings of Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist, who believed in the indirect approach: search for comparative advantages, use your forces with economy, surprise and deceive, and only fight limited wars. The medieval Japanese setting (relatively small armies made up from a limited number of distinct units fighting on different terrains), served as the perfect substrate to implement these strategies.
I have played every single Total War game since and they were all a joy to experience - yet nothing surpassed to the first Shogun. Until now.

The gameplay has matured, deepened and acquired a number of new features, including some RPG additions. We now have Mastery of Arts, a tech tree branching into Bushido (warfare) and Chi (governance & finances). There are now hero units, inspiring the troops, going after the enemy general or turning the battle at that crucial point.
Generals are upgradable and modifiable, increasing their effectiveness and making them indispensable. The honorable death of a seasoned general will affect many aspects of your overall strategy and may prove the decisive point of the entire campaign. Which is why subterfuge is so important.
There may be no honor in using Ninjas - but now they can assassinate the enemy general or soften up the enemy defenses by sabotaging their production or the integrity of their defensive structures. And because the Ninja knife cuts both ways, make sure to have enough Metsuke units to sniff out the ninjas send by the enemy.
Children serve as hostages to ensure cooperation whereas marriages are arranged to strengthen alliances. And since no army fights on an empty belly, one should make sure to set up complex trade agreements. Ones that will hold through the treacheries of war. Because sooner than later, your task will graduate from impossible to you-gotta-be-kidding-me.

The AI will make your life miserable. Enemy units will try to flank you from every possible direction and they will try to make use of your troops movement in order to achieve this. And then, just when you think you are winning, every single clan and province turns against you...
It is possible to let the AI auto-resolve all battles and play the game as a highly sophisticated turn-based Civilization game - but why miss all the fun?
Unlike the first game, SHOGUN 2 also has sea vessels and battles. While in a sea battle, you either board and take over or burn the enemy vessels. However, the real strategic consideration is this: when attacking a neighboring province, did you leave adequate defenses to prevent, say, the sacking of your own castle? Because the AI does not forgive such oversights.

The graphics and sounds of Shogun 2 are something one has to experience to believe. Even on DirectX 9 (WinXP - which is the OS I am experiencing it at), the strategic map feels like flying over the real Sengoku period Japan whereas the game design goes into unbelievable details. Every ribbon on a set of armor, every blade of grass, every ray of light reflected on raised katanas or refracted through the clouds are just gorgeous.
The game absorbs you into its world and never let's go. In one word: Kan-Zen (Perfection).

I usually deduct a full star from the final rating of any game that comes with any form of DRM that requires online activation or ties your game with digital shackles. Because even the retail version of SHOGUN 2 comes with mandatory STEAM, I did exactly that. However, because I rated the game well...above 5-stars, this could not become apparent and the game still rates a perfect score.
Yes, STEAM is the pheasant festering on the porch someone has to do something about. However, SHOGUN 2 is one of those extremely rare games that are worth their DRM hassle. If STEAM is still a deal-breaker for you, well, now you can make an informed decision either way.

SHOGUN 2 truly embodies The Art of War - and it will stay with you for a very long time.


Kokoro yori okuyami moushiagemasu.
On a more sober note, I want to send my deepest sympathies to anyone in Japan hit by the latest earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Courage and endurance have always been characteristics of the Japanese psyche.
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123 of 146 people found the following review helpful
I own all the Total war games. I have a big problem with Shogun 2; apart from different AI (and I say 'different' not 'better' for a reason, see below) and updated graphics (plus a few minor other touches), there's not much I haven't seen before.

There's all sorts of really groundbreaking things they could have added, such as a real time campaign map (have a look at Defcon to see how this might work), or the ability to have a 'parallel universe' mode where you can rewrite history by developing technologies that were never developed (but would have been feasible at the time, such militarised hot air balloons or 18th century versions of the Maginot line and other such low, 'anti cannon' structures to replace forts... not fantasy stuff, but stuff that could easily be used without destroying the 'sense of the period').

What would have been **really** cool would have been a new 'War council' window, where you can plan high level tactics with your allies... things like agreeing which city to attack, so that you and your allies send armies to lay seige to the same city by the same turn (after the appropriate money has changed hands of course), or instructing a particular faction to protect your back as you move forward to attack an enemy, or simply asking a protectorate for some of their unique units (effectively allowing the trade of mercenary armies between nations, and so you can build multi-national armies... how cool would that be - attack an Ally and their mercenary units in your army turn against you; politics and strategy finally start to blend). NB - I can't see the War council idea being difficult to implement as this actually occurred in Medieval 2, where the Vatican issued crusades i.e. factions had to send an army to seige a city by a certain turn).

All not to be. Perhaps the worst disappointment is the AI..

Yet again with Shogun, the AI starts off looking great, but a few plays in in, you can beat it straight away. Despite the sales blurb, the AI isn't that great. I won't give the game away for Shogun 2, but the previous Empire AI certainly had a problem with cannons; it didn't understand line of sight (AI cannons spent all their time shooting at the sides of mountains in hilly maps) and the AI always sent cavalry on suicide runs against well defended cannons. The Empire AI was also useless in defence; you just (1) pick off the enemy horses with your cannons, which (2) leaves the enemy cannons defenseless, then (3) hit the enemy cannons with fast moving horses from the side/rear (which is now easy as the enemy has no horses of its own to counter), and finally, (4) decimate the enemy infantry with your cannons and/or move your infantry into buildings if the enemy start advancing. You could beat the Empire AI consistently not because of skill, but because of the known mistakes it made.

Unfortunately, it is looking like the Shogun 2 AI is the same, albeit with different mistakes.

I think the big issue with all Total War Battle AIs is that they never realise that combined (or even paired) units can have a weighting greater than the sum of the parts, and that the weighting of many units changes with range or location. The AI just cannot move its forces in a way that increases its multipliers and certainly not in the same way a human opponent would. Once you realise that failing, all total war AIs are simple to crack.

Another big issue I've always had with the Total War battle AI is that you always seem to be playing against the same opponent. It doesn't matter which historical general you are playing agaist because the AI general always plays the same strategy. In real life, Napolean fought one way (heavy reliance on cannons), whereas the Prussians fought a totally different battle (split army into two, one side holds the enemy to the front, whilst another line attacks from the side), whereas the British simply built a massive trading empire (complete with massive navy to protect the supply lines) and then funded everyone else for most of the time (hence 'Nation of shopkeepers'). I'm not that knowledgeable with Japanese tacticians, but unless all Japanese generals used exactly the same tactics on the battlefield, the Total War AI is still emulating the same single nameless general it always did.

For the campaign AI, it is still not true to life either. In real life you get power blocks building up, where *all* weaker nations become protectorates, and you cannot attack any weak country without incurring the wrath of a superpower. Such political dynamics is non existent in any of the Total war games (because in the game model political ties are too weak to promote such dynamics). As implied earlier with my 'War council' idea, political ties are also still not really useful - you cannot work with your allies in any tactical way (other than trade) as there is no real way to attack and defend together.

Finally, in the world of quad core (or i7 x8 threads) processing, it would be expected that the Creative Assembly would finally write multi-thread efficient code. They haven't.

Shogun 2 only uses about 10-15% more processing power than Napolean total war (and yes, I set the graphics way down to ensure the graphics card wasn't the bottleneck). Sure, the Shogum 2 engine uses 50-60% of a quad core, but that is only as efficient as other notable game engines were 2 years ago (and implies dual core optimisation). If you have an i7, then much of your extra threads will be wasted for now. Maybe ok for a mindless first person shooter, but you would expect better from a deep strategy game.

Given all this, Shogun is the second Total way game I wish I hadn't bought on release (the first being the original Empire Total war). My advice is to wait 6 months until the price comes down a little, the AI is a little less obvious (either via updates or third party AI patches), and they start throwing the DLCs into the deal.

The Total War games are still the best strategy games out there, but I won't be buying them on release again; this is worth 3 stars on release. but perhaps 5 stars in 6 months time.

*** Update June 2011 ***
The price has now halved from release, and the all important post release patch has just been released (lots of little fixes plus full DirectX 11 support). Now is probably the time to buy Shogun 2 if you haven't already.

Post patch, Shogun 2's AI still has an awful problem with understanding doors (which is really not the step forward from 'a problem with understanding cannons'), but hey, at least the factions are more confident than in Empire (they actually attack each other in Shogun 2, and know how to invade from the sea), and although there are fewer units and little difference between faction units or maps in Shogun 2, at least Shogun 2 is more strategic.

Downside is that the units in Shogun are all a bit similar, with very few classes, little variation between factions, and no variation in the maps (Japan is a country with little climatic variation, etc).

*** Update May 2012 ***
The price is now less than a quarter of the original asking price. It is a steal at this price!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2012
I have owned this game for several months now and I love it, while I accept it can be annoying that steam is needed to play this game, it in no way affects the game in my opinion. Furthermore I feel that the previous reviewers have been unfair to this game on its "Lag issues", this is not the case if you have a computer which is above the RECOMMENDED specs, and I feel the game cannot be judged if people have had issues with their computer not the game itself.

one warning I do have is to users of AMD's FX line of processors, this game requires a BIOS flash for users to play, and the initial loading time will take about 3 - 5 minutes, but once in game, times are what you would expect.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2012
I bought this game as I had previously enjoyed the Rome total war Gold Edition as well as the Medieval 2 Gold Edition. The graphics are definitely a great improvement and the battlefield looks great. The battle animations are also much more exciting making saved replays a lot more entertaining to watch. Unit variation is no way near as rich as Rome, but i guess its a historical limitation. The AI has vastly improved from just sitting round and letting u shoot it to pieces. Diplomacy is much more fun now as the AI is much more active in attacking each other, declaring alliances or offering trade deals.
Anyhow, The naval battles are pretty boring, there's nearly no opportunity for strategy. What tends to happen in campaign is that the computer bunches up all its ships in to massive fleets and when u fight them its just a big, random mess.

BUT the biggest problem with this game is actually being able to play it! I bought the game in CD about 6 months after release to avoid bugs and had to install Steam to play it (ugh). It took me 2 days to figure it out. My computer had well over the minimum requirements and after installing it from Steam (which took like 2 hours) i would click "Play game" and after a few secs my screen would go black and crash the computer. It did this time after time. I did everything Steam Support had to say but nothing would change. Well, in the end it turns out that Shogun 2 Total War conflicts with Realtek HD audio, so i had to change it and voila it worked.

In summary, great game had a lot of fun with it. But Creative Assembly, you s*** at testing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2012
Another great addition to the Total War series, the latest and of the greatest so far.
Very fun game but is does not play 100 MPH, it takes a lot of patience and strategy instead of mindless, unskillful action.

I am a veteran of the Total War series but I decided on doing the tutorial/mini-campaign to get accustomed to some of the new features and even remind me of some of the normal gameplay customs for this game, I am glad I did it. The tutorial actually takes a decent amount of time, a couple of hours at least but if you want to be able to play at your best it is definitely worth it.

I have a high spec computer so I am able to play with every graphics option maxed out so I can not comment on how it runs on a older computer but what you get at it's full potential is something stunning and rarely seen in the strategy game world.

One of the only problems I have with this game is it takes a long time to get past the initial load up screen.The first time I did it it took more than 5 minutes but is slightly faster now and some people claim it is fine for them after loading up for the first time.

When you install it I recommend to do it through Steam, a third-party program which runs games but auto-downloads updates, has an exclusive achievement system, has a brilliant multiplayer network and more.
IMPORTANT! - When you install the game through steam it will download the latest updates and it downloaded 5 GB of updates for me. I have heard that this is a problem with steam and some people claim they had to download the full game and the extra 5 GB update. After my 5 GB downloaded I was worried there would be a problem as I though that seemed to large a download to be right but it has worked fine so if this happens for you don't worry and just download it.

Great delivery time, packaging and price from Amazon as always, for a great and latest game from an outstanding series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 April 2014
If you are new to the series I would recommend this. It is interesting, reasonably challenging and plenty of fun.
If you are an aficionado you may be disappointed. There isn't much new and the AI has some problems.

Some people don't like the Steam platform but if you are new to Steam don't be put off. Now I am used to it I find it It's quick, reliable and convenient and much better than holding discs. You can finish a game, uninstall it and 5 years later you have a new computer and want to play it again - it's right there ready to install.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2012
This game, like the recent Empire and Napoleon games from the Total War series, have taken a lot of bad hits from people who are basing their reviews on Steam rather than the game itself. I love this game, the graphics are superb, the gameplay...and this includes the online multiplayer which I am not normally a fan of, are fun and easy to get to grips with. The fact that Shogun 2 and Fall of the Samuari have so many new and exotic units to learn to master just add to the fun.
The storylines are interesting but in all fairness don't add much, its just basically a brief story of why you are fighting in the first place.
The "hero" units are a new and novel idea.
The naval combat needs something to be desired in Shogun 2...Fall of the Samuari naval warfare is fun fun fun...but Shgun 2 naval warfare is all about archers and early cannons.
The fact that the AI acts somewhat intellgently is also a major plus...the AI doesn't just sit there and get shot at.

Add to this the tons of add ons from steam and WOW!!!

The blood pack is a small but brilliant extra you can buy. Samurai gets decapitated...blood spurts!!!

As I said, Steam seems to be the let down on this because for many its their first time dealing with the nightmare that is the Steam site but once you have learnt the ways around it there is nothing wrong at all with this game.

One tiny flaw...the map is small...however again Fall of the Samuari corrected this with a huge map of Japan and the islands surrounding it.
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on 9 March 2013
Great title yet again from the Total War TM (they rarely fail). I had the original Shogun years ago and it was my favourite game for a long time. Obviously my expectations were high with Shogun 2 because of this. Once again the historical aspect has been meticulously researched bringing added realism to the strategy. Along with adding in attrition during winter away from home territories and food supply needs for the lands this may well be the most accurate depiction of historical warfare. The graphics are amazing and level of detail leaves the battles looking stunning. The UI however is a little harder to control in comparison to the other TW titles as you have to keep clicking on certain tabs and buttons to view info instead of the old double click system, but all in all a very enjoyable game and this can be my only complaint, along with not being able to build as many buildings but thats just me wanting a little non-realism to achieve victory sooner. Well done TW you've done it again. P.S who says strategy is dead?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2013
I would have to say its not the best game the Creative Assembly have made in the Total War series, but its better than some seem to give credit for. At the same time, I don't agree with everyone handing out 5/5 and dismissing the complaints of others.
Steam isn't a perfect platform to use it on and I sympathise with those out there who are unable to get good download limits who are then effectively forced to download it despite going out and buying the disk version, but by and large I've had no major issues with Steam; its easy to set up and use and a convenient place to get your games.
The soundtrack and art style are excellent and the battle AI, both in land and sea battles, took me by surprise; of all the Total War games, it has the best land battle AI, a significant improvement over that of Empire and Napoleon, especially in siege battles, which was the Achilles heel of the previous games. I've watched the AI pull of some spectacular tactical coups, often working its ways out of well thought-through strategies and even overcoming superior numbers or better quality troops through careful management of its forces. Naval engagements are much better, as there is much more strategy required and it doesn't come down to who has bigger ships/guns.
I feel though that ultimately, the real weakness of the game is the campaign AI and indeed the whole way the campaign works. Its a breathtaking map when you first see it, but I've been deeply disappointed by way the campaign works. The AI is rather consistent on all but the hardest difficulties and enjoys unfair advantages over the player on all difficulties such as suffering no unrest in newly-conquered provinces. The realm divided mechanic makes late campaign play ridiculously hard and unpleasant and put me off playing another campaign. Unless you can expertly carve your way across the country and win every battle you fight, you are likely to fail before the campaign time-limit expires. Like the last few games in the series, the pace of the campaign is mandatory aggressive and the AI still completely uncooperative, willing to betray you at a moment's notice, even when it is disadvantaged and unwilling to accept even generous terms, making unrealistic demands when it is not in a position of strength. To date I've had tremendous problems with multiplayer and I've still not had a session that didn't end in connections failing, despite having a strong connection.

Overall its an above-average game, but the key area (for me), the campaign, still hasn't been improved compared to the previous games.
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on 25 November 2013
Fan of the Medieval Total War series. The game has been expanded and refined to a very high level. The campaign is fantastic as a single player experience, just started playing campaign multiplayer with a friend as well. If you like proper epic RTS games then this is for you. You control every aspect of your empire: playing the role of general in taking and holding new territories, playing the head of state in diplomacy and strategy, as well as sending out assassins and agents to sabotage others and dominate. The only gripe is those used to the total war series will notice a lack of variety across the factions and each one can feel very similar with unique troops etc only available through expansion packs or DLC. Would definitely recommend this game to anyone interested in immersing themselves for a few hours at a time.
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