Jahanzeb Khan
12 Oct, 2010

Shogun 2: Total War Preview

PC Preview | Creative Assembly goes back to the samurai dojo.
Creative Assembly’s Total War series made its grand debut with Shogun: Total War, a real time strategy title that featured a turn-based system. The game was set in medieval Japan and allowed players to engage in samurai warfare, and one of its most endearing qualities was its historical accuracy. With that successful debut, Creative Assembly would go on to make sequels with each exploring a unique historical setting and thus offering a fresh new experience. With each new title came a wealth of visual and gamplay improvements, as well plenty of new features. Napoleon: Total War came out earlier this year and already Creative Assembly are hard at work on the next game, Shogun 2: Total War. The game is set to be a true sequel to the original that kick started the Total War franchise, and is once again set in medieval Japan but this time it will take full advantage of the latest engine. PalGN recently had the pleasure of checking out the latest build of Shogun 2: Total War.

Shogun 2 is set in 16th century Japan, and revolves around nine warring clans that are in a power struggle, with each determined to become the one true Shogun that will unify the country. Each of these clans will be playable with their own separate campaign story, but the game will also feature thirty non-playable factions that will have a significant influence.

We were given a tour of the battle system for both land and naval battles. The land battles are quite similar to what we saw in Napoleon: Total War but with the obvious medieval Japan warfare. The units we saw were samurai swordsman, spearmen, archers (some groups used flaming arrows) and the cavalry. The land battle panned out quite similarly to Napoleon: Total War and featured things like a morale meter, unique battle formations and of course generals that grant unique bonuses during battles. Castle sieges have been given a major facelift as once your army is able to breach the walls of a castle, you’ll have to navigate the courtyards as well, thus adding more strategic flair. Next we had a look at the new and improved naval battles, and while these battles will be strictly ‘ship vs ship’ and taking place on sea, the land however will play a major role as ships will be able to venture into lands via inlets. Players will be able to trap enemy ships into narrow water passages on land, and this adds quite a bit of strategy rather than being a straightforward ship vs ship battle.

Ships ahoy!

Ships ahoy!
We were then shown the campaign mode, where we got to see the new and improved campaign map and a variety of new gameplay features. Shogun 2 will take place strictly in Japan, with the entire country available for players to explore and battle on. It is on the campaign map where the diplomacy aspect comes into play. New to the game are Geishas, who are actually female assassins in disguise. After sending one Geisha for an assassination, a cut-scene takes place, showing the result of the attempt. There are also Ninjas available who perform a similar assassin role, but in a much different manner, and they can also sabotage unsuspecting enemies. How successful they are really depends on their level/rank, the Ninja we saw in the build was a lower level one, and this became clear in the assassination cut-scene where he was being rather clumsy (in a humorous way too). Other changes to the campaign mode include the ability to train/recruit ‘heroes’. This is achieved by developing training/recruitment camps that will not only produce better soldiers, but special ‘hero’ characters who will take charge during battle.

Shogun 2 will utilise a turn-based system limited by movement points, and the season changes upon the completion of a turn. Total War games have so far featured ‘technologies’ which can be used to advance a particular army in terms of skills and resources, Shogun 2 however will feature cultures and art forms. The details and specifics have not been finalised at this stage but we were shown an early build of this feature, and it certainly looks to offer something different. Finally, in terms of character building and customisations, there is an RPG esque ‘skill tree’ for the main characters/generals with both combat oriented and even personality oriented skills.

When not being honourable and stuff, samurais like to chill on the beach.

When not being honourable and stuff, samurais like to chill on the beach.
Shogun 2 uses a modified version of the Napoleon engine and even in this early build, the game looks impressive. The character models, dynamic lighting, weather effects and varied landscapes look really nice and the character animations have been improved courtesy of motion capture. Battles will support 56,000 troops, and so fans can expect more grand and epic battles with plenty of action on screen. We were especially pleased with the design and visuals of the campaign map as it really has a nice artistic flair which captures the aesthetics of traditional Japanese art very nicely, also for the very first time the campaign map will be feature a 3D rotating camera. We heard a few tracks from the soundtrack, and we have to say it sounded quite nice and powerful.

Shogun 2: Total War looks to go back to the roots of the franchise while retaining all the improvements that were made in past games and adding a whole lot more. While still in its very early stages of development, it's already looking to be the biggest Total War game yet, and fans who fell in love with the original Shogun: Total War will likely see this as the sequel they always dreamed about.
Shogun 2: Total War looks to go back to the roots of the franchise while retaining all the improvements that were made in past games and adding a whole lot more.

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3 years ago
I'm personally not big on PC gaming, but I've noticed
PALGN's past reviews for some of the past Total War games have been pretty good. (8.5's If I remember).

The game does look interesting and my PC needs a decent game. I might just check it.
3 years ago
If you are interested in that, Napoleon Total War definitely needs your attention as well.

I would recommend Empire Total War but I found Napoleon to be more satisfying overall.

I think there is a special steam bundle with both of them in the game of the year edition for $50 USD i think.
3 years ago
I used to play the original Total War for hours on end back in the day. Looking at these screenshots it is truly amazing at how far things have come. I didn't play any of the other TW's between then and now, as I just didn't have a great deal of interest in the actual settings. Napoleon and that kinda stuff is certainly classic warfare and all but there's something about the mythology/mystique around the Japanese art of war that engages me more.

As for the Geishas.. I am fairly certain they were in the original game. Or at least something of equal use. Still.. it is the diplomacy, turn-based campaign map strategy and of course the full-scale battles that are at the heart of this title.

Definitely one I will consider getting when it is released.
3 years ago
I so cant wait for this game. I love Totalwar. My least fav was Napoleon. Didn't bother with Empire. It's nice to see them going back to fuedal times.
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