‘Total War: Shogun 2’

As I’ve mentioned before, I have restrained from commenting much on games in the past. Or, at least, I have avoided commenting on the vast majority of games that I play. This has slowly turned around and I am of a mind to keep the outlook that I have in this blog rather varied, so I decided to write down a few thoughts of mine on Total War: Shogun 2 before the new Rome 2 is out in the end of this summer. Whenever I get my hands on that, I’ll probably be saying a few words as well.

At present, Shogun 2 is the game I’ve played for the most hours on Steam. That is saying something since for at least half that time I had to deal with a computer which was too slow to run the game properly. And yet, I endured. I endured because Total War is a rather good strategy games series, and I endured because I love Japan. In Shogun 2, they come together.

There’s three main campaigns: one from the Genpei War, one from the Sengoku Jidai, and lastly one from the Revolution. Of these I probably enjoy the Genpei War one best, if only for the simple reason that the gameplay seems most efficient there — it really is possible to demonstrate why the “samurai” troops are better than the “levies”, and one memorable occasion where I did exactly that my good commanders with 600 men utterly routed 2100 enemies. It is moments like this which are somewhat rarer in the Sengoku Jidai campaign — although that might be more due to my own stubbornness.

Stubbornness? Yes, because for at least thrice I tried beating the campaign as the Takeda by following the Furinkazan and not really fortifying my lands while trying to create the fastest and most efficient cavalry army possible. Not the wisest of ideas for inevitably I managed to meet a four-or-five times larger enemy army which, unfortunately, was not comprised of useless levies but of good quality troops. Queue defeat.

Needless to say, the stubbornness did pay off in the end: I now have the Takeda Victory Achievement under my Steam belt. So that’s that…

What feels somewhat lacking in this particular game is the opportunity to vary strategy — the beginning is rather different, but since victory is always dependent on the conquest of Kyoto I feel that I have fought in those same lands under different banners in different times so many battles that I’d really rather keep to some other island for the next game. Alas, I cannot do that!

The AI is slightly a bit too aggressive with naval invasions — they can be so very annoying and frustrating when they land another useless army: useless not because you can actually defeat it this turn but you could if your own army was home and not fighting on the frontiers… And this inevitably happens. As an exampe, in my Chosokabe campaign, I had great pleasure in a constant stream of enemy armies to my island. I really do wish it had been otherwise.

And, maybe, that brings me to the “total war” side. I feel it is a bit too ‘total’. Inevitably, one ends up fighting the entire world, and while that may have been a good way to try to code in balance, I don’t really appreciate my longest lasting allies attacking me because I now have 22 provinces instead of 21. This is especially not appreciable if these said allies are going to conduct a naval invasion. Which, obviously, will happen.

But, I guess, that is also part of the fun of this game. Things go wrong, and players are defeated. It doesn’t happen often, and in most situations one’s luck can turn around… But it is also possible that the AI simply grinds one into the ground. And that, even if frustrating is a different type of fun.

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