Armchair Samurais, Rejoice!


Shogun 2: Total War for the PC is being developed by The Creative Assembly and many of the folks who worked on the original Shogun some 10 years ago are back and working on this project. Just from that alone, you know this is a labor of love, going in.

Shogun 2: Total War begins in 1545 when Japan was a country at war. Most of the countryside was lawless at that time and the developers have done everything they can to insure a historically accurate picture is painted for the player. There are 9 playable clans to choose from, ranging from the strong to the weak, and it is possible to win with all of them, depending on how skilled you are and how well you utilize each clan痴 unique strengths and weaknesses. 30 unit types such as archery and infantry make for lots of different combination for the skilled and advanced player.

The menus and images that appear in between bouts of gameplay were drawn with the gentle Japanese aesthetic of an ink brush on a wood block, so the look is soft, lovely and very authentic. In fact, the artists who worked on Shogun 2 trained for over a year to be able to create the art using this specific style and it really shows. The in-game characters look great as well and are quite detailed and realistic.

You値l be dealing with vastly different terrains in Shogun 2, along with the full four seasons represented on the battlefield. Expect to engage in coastal battles, as well as deal with flatland and in-mountain battle sites, with the natural beauty of Japan surrounding you. You値l see cherry blossoms blowing in the wind in Spring and the decaying leaves of Japanese tree varieties during Fall, over 80 varieties having been authentically rendered. Attack sites will have various points of entry, as well as attack points, which provide the player with multiple options to protect, defend and attack. There will be 15 different types of castles and 5 stage castle sieges, so its no longer simply a matter of storming the outer walls. You値l be in for quite a fight once you break the first barrier. With 12 ship types, you can expect coastal battles to be very interesting what with the choke points and rocky shores you値l be able to force the enemy into. Night battles return and you値l be able to use your lit arrows or lanterns as but a few of the many light sources in the game. Objects are now affected by the weather and as such, empty craters will fill with water and roofs will glisten in the drizzling rain, as the battles rage on.

Your generals or Daimyos, which are the heads of factions, will have their own personalities, weaknesses and strengths. To rouse the armies, they will be able to deliver a pre-battle speech based on their location, character, relationship to the enemy, etc. There are literally over 100,000 possibilities for the pre-battle speech and it can be heard in English or Japanese. Once engaged in battle, classes will attack each other in a sensible manner, with Samurais attacking other Samurais and foot soldiers attacking other foot soldiers, however you are able to control this aspect and can have anyone attack anyone else. Play around with it and see what works best for your fighting style. The morale and experience systems remain the same as with the original Shogun, so if the enemy successfully charges, your men will be afraid. If the enemy burns down one of your shrines, or you his, morale will go down on the battlefield.

Finally, you can have unique Hero units who can cut through hordes of enemy units like butter. Combine these Hero units with a group of their disciples and they will be a formidable force on the battlefield, seeking out enemy heroes for a duel to the death over their honor.

As you can see, there痴 lots of war gaming goodness to be packed in this game and with a release date some time in 2011, the team still has lots of time to tweak and improve. For those armchair generals out there, Shogun 2 should definitely be on your radar.

Shogun 2: Total War