Shogun 2 : First Impressions

We live in an age of instant gratification.  Text messages must go out instantly, who can wait around for a phone call when a 15 year old girl can type War and Peace on her cell phone keypad by the time you’ve read these first couple lines(although, I dare you to decipher her shorthand text speak).  With that knowledge, it is ironic that all of us PC gamers, who want our content immediately, cannot wait to jump back into 16th century, Feudal Japan!  On March 15th, another PC sequel, 11 years in the making, finally goes live on store shelves and digital distribution sites–Total War : Shogun 2.

Although it’s been 11 years since the last Shogun title, you’d have to be under a rock to not know how amazingly well the Total War series has flourished, with tiles spanning Rome, the New World, the American Colonies and the mighty empire of Napolean, most recently.  Total war has become the standard for massive scale, PC strategy military battles, and Shogun 2 looks to continue the tradition, while adding it’s own marks on the genre.  If you haven’t had a chance to try out the demo, I’d encourage you to download Steam and jump in, the demo went live on Tuesday, February 22nd, and it’s spectacular!  Among the new features to look forward to are:

  • Ninjas – One of the most mesmerizing, use this stealthy spies to sneak in, scout, and sabotage or assassinate your enemies. Ninjas can be used both on the battlefield, or on the terrain map.
  • All new siege mechanics and castle structures – New tactics and castle tiers make for deeper strategies for players on both the offensive and defensive side of a siege.  New units can be used to sneak in for a flanked maneuver or takeover, while traps and structures within strongholds help keep invaders at bay.
  • Pre-Battle speeches are back! – Rome players remember these, how about a Kevin Costner speech to pump up your forces before battle?  Give it a try, with over 100,00 possible speeches to rally your troops.
  • New battlefield structures – Now there will be unique structures, on the battlefield, that, when captured, will help boost troop stats and morale.  An interesting feature, that may help turn the tide, in your favor.
  • Historical battles – This is easily the most attractive feature for the more historical buff players.  Familiar with the history, but curious to see if you have the strategic chops to change history?  Take part in one of many historical battles, to play out or alter ancient history.
  • Terrain and seasons change the play – All four seasons, terrain types and weather conditions make for an interesting, unique playthrough.   Battles on snowy mountains may fair different from those in an open field or rain swept valley.
  • Naval battles return! – The favorite, since the Empire series, and new to the Shogun franchise, battles will now rage on the seas, as well as the lands.

Shogun 2 puts the player in control of one of the clans vying for control during the Sengoku period.  Managing your settlements, you will be in charge of everything from military development, applying taxes, choosing political alignments with the other clans, and making sure your empire doesn’t grow beyond or below your means.  The game will feature historical figures and generals, used with more depth in not only on the field tactics, but political interactions, as well.  I had some time with the demo, and my only complaint was the limit to a mere 3 player controlled 3D battles(which can’t really be called a complaint).  The demo would have been a great place to hone your skills, prior to the games release, without that battle cap.  From what I understand, the limit in the demo was a choice made to keep the size of the demo lower. Had all of the battle assets had to have been included for more open play, the size would have almost tripled, or quadrupled.  It would have been nice to try out new units, such as the ninjas and warrior monks, in a broader range of entanglements, but I guess we’ll just have to wait for the full game!

The demo format is a new feature for the Total War series;past game demos only included one battle and one historic battle.  This time around, they somehow managed to cram a campaign tutorial with 3 playable battles into 15 gigabytes of demo.  Not only do you get a feel for the campaign map, and a taste of battles, but you get to see the new menus and options, along with being able to play around with a new unit—the ninja.  Ninjas can be employed to infiltrate enemy territory to sabotage structures, gain intelligence and assassinate figures.  The aforementioned new siege tactics are available, so there is one of the 3 battles that lets you get your hands on warrior monks and ninjas.  In addition to the 3 playable battles in the campaign demo, there is also a historical battle, The Battle of Sekigahara.  This battle has you attempting to overcome traitors, and near insurmountable odds, and is not for the feint of heart!  Just from my short time with the game, I have already loaded Empire : Total War back up, so I can compare and contrast what I know will be tactical differences in the game.  I’m sure, I can also say, that I’ll need quite the refresher course, before the game’s launch in the coming weeks!  I can certainly say that the demo has whet my appetite for what seems to be a fantastic military strategy game, and an honorable nod to the wonderful history of that time period in Japan’s history.  Sharpen your katanas and prepare for war this March 15th, 2011!

In the meantime, check out our own machinima of some of the demo footage, with audio by 30 Seconds to Mars! You can find the video on the front page, in our videos section(which should be on the right side of this post!), or via direct link, right here!
















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