And the best reader review each month wins a Blu-ray pack courtesy of Madman.
Total War: Shogun 2
As far as I’m concerned feudal Japan is compulsory history for all. What is there not to love about the samurai warriors, the clan politics, the mass slaughtering’s, ninjas, the castles, the leaders, the interactions with foreign traders etc. Creative Assembly has gone back to where it all started for their Total War series and their efforts have this gaijin smiling from ear to ear.
Personality: Often strategy games make you feel like a deity floating over its people giving orders detached from the comings and goings of your minions. Shogun 2 definitely has you controlling large stacks of armies, fleets and finances but never has a game made me care so much about the individuals involved. From your Daimyo and generals that you risk in each battle to your ninja’s, metsuke and monks that traverse the map carrying out the clans will. The time and care you place in developing their skills really connects you to their fates and losing one through carelessness or plain bad luck really can dent your progress and your own personal morale.
Battles: This is a game that really gives you a sense of a large scale battle and the chaos and fear that must have been seen and felt by its participants. Battles don’t hinge on killing all your opposition but more so overwhelming them with superior tactics. Great satisfaction comes from seeing the domino effect as a well-timed samurai charge down a hill combined with flanking cavalry sees panic spread throughout the enemy. This one moment can see entire armies lose morale and run for their lives leaving you to mop up.
Sweet Failure: Shogun 2 is hard. It was only after thirty hours and two failed campaigns that the mighty daimyo of the Shimazu clan rose to be shogun. These failures though were not disheartening as it was always clear why I failed. Build big armies and march your way to Kyoto leaving your conquered lands disgruntled ensures rebels will rise up and destroy your clan from the inside. Have large armies but neglect a navy and risk being flanked and losing your capital to invaders. Are you trading? Can you support your armies financially? All these must be balanced carefully to become the ultimate ruler of Japan.
Tall Poppy Syndrome: At a certain point in the game other clans realise you are far too powerful and even if you are not at war or even have them in your sights they will turn against you. This felt a little cheap especially as it seems impossible to strike up alliances with even the smallest of clans that would benefit from being allied with you.
Shogun 2 is overwhelming. It can be very difficult to pick up and play. In saying that though Creative Assembly has really made a rewarding and entertaining experience here for those who are willing to delve in.