Total War: Shogun 2

9 Overall Score

Combat, Empire Management, Multiplayer!

Multiplayer campaign could be improved

I find it hard to rate strategy games, perhaps because I have actually never read a review for one in my life. The thing about strategy games is that they are a predominantly PC “thing” and as such do not get as much exposure as other genres. Or so I think.

I mean the stories for those games are not exactly deep, and the historical ones have to generally follow certain events, the fictional ones can’t seem to provide any depth to the plot for multiple reasons; and this makes me very uncomfortable rating those games based on story. I suppose this also has to do with the fact that those games are not designed with the story or main campaign being the main point of the game but it might be just how I personally perceive it.

Regardless of that, the categories I feel this game should be reviewed on are as follows:

– Single Player Campaign (Gameplay)

– Multiplayer (Gameplay)

– Audio and Visuals (I grouped up those two because individually I did not feel they held the same importance they do in other genres, I believe that is because most people seriously playing the game don’t really pay attention to the graphics and voice variety as much as they do to the actual things happening on screen and trying to plan moves in advance).


Single Player Campaign (Gameplay): 9/10

The game basically is set in feudal 16th century japan where different clans are moving fast to expand their power and claim the title of Shogun. The player gets a choice between several clans to play with, each with their own specialties and strengths. Some for example are especially gifted at archery, swordsmanship, cavalry, specialized in siege engines, or even diplomacy! There are many more specializations that affect the strategy played with each clan. Another thing that affects the game is the location the player’s clan start in. Each clan has its own starting location which also affects the player’s strategy.

The game is not quite a Real time strategy but it isn’t exactly a turn based strategy. What I mean by that is that the game is split into two parts. The holistic management of the provinces under the player’s control is turn based, allowing the player to control many aspects of their empire. This includes anything from managing diplomatic relationships and arranging political marriages and promoting nobles to various seats of office all the way to managing research decisions and tax rate. The player during this will have to face-off against other clans in a bit to seize the title of Shogun while watching out to keep the populace calm  so that the people of one province or another don’t rebel putting a roadblock in the player’s way to conquest, other things the player needs to watch for is the predominant religion of each of the provinces, food surplus or shortages and the poverty level caused by taxation  as those can really drive the peasants to revolt! The best part is, that is not all there is to the game! The player can recruit Ninjas (assassins basically) to scout, spy, or perform assassinations and their success rate is dependent on their experience and amount of relevant training they have received. There are Gieshas who are used to seduce enemy generals or keep nobles entertained, and there are also Metsukes which are basically undercover government officials who perform arrests, bribe armies and settlements into joining over to the player’s cause.

The second aspect of the game is real-time based and involves facing off massive armies against one another. Each military “unit” is a division of soldiers than can range between 25 or soldiers or so all the way to 200 or more soldiers. Everything from terrain to the experience this division has affects their prowess. There are multiple general categories of units, like siege units, melee infantry, ranged infantry, melee cavalry, ranged cavalry, generals and so on. Each with their strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages. They also have their special abilities which when used at the right time and place can quickly change the tide of battle and help a loosing force beat the opponent. Note though, that this aspect of the game can be swapped out by allowing the computer to auto battle by predicting the outcome of the battle through some formula (though I personally do not always agree with the results even if they are in my favor).

One of the main problems when playing against the AI is that even on hardest difficulty the AI becomes terribly predictable during the battles once the player gets a hang of the game. This gets to the point where in most battles unless you are severely out numbered,you will end up beating the AI with overwhelming success (and no, I do not say this because I am good at the game. I am barely average at best on multiplayer Avatar conquest). Another main problem is that the maps become repetitive when you play as much as I do (when you think about it though a game that makes you play it as much as I did with Shogun II is pretty awesome so that’s not SUCH a bad thing).

To conclude this section of the review, the game is pretty versatile in this sense and is in my eyes, easily outmatching many games of the genre.


Multiplayer (Gameplay): 9/10

This section will discuss both the multiplayer campaign (Co-op and Versus) and the Avatar Conquest in two subsections respectively. They will then be followed by an overall verdict as in the previous section regarding the single player gameplay.

The multiplayer campaign is a two-player option that is very much like the single player campaign experience except for two main areas. First, the players get to select between whether they want to play cooperatively thereafter forming an unbreakable alliance (literally, since you cannot chose to betray one another), or whether they want to play head to head competing over who gets the title of shogun first, or who demolishes the opponent. Both options quiet frankly enrich the gaming experience provided you are playing with a mature individual who does not get on your nerves (quiet frankly, I consider this to be the case with any multiplayer in my personal opinion). The second area is that once you start the game with an individual, you are at one anther’s mercy when it comes to completing the game as it can only progress with both of you actively playing it together (which is understandable). The only REAL problems that stop this from becoming the perfect strategy experience in my eyes is the fact that there is a limit on the number of players capable of engaging in this experience in any given game (two), and the fact that once players choose the option of cooperative or head to head gameplay they are stuck in the option, there is no method of forming and breaking alliances the way you technically could in Risk or Age of Empires II (as I believe it would come closer to the real thing in regards to diplomatic relationships). But in the case of the former issue (more than one player) I realize that the game’s pacing will become too slow as each player may drag on making decisions and the diplomatic dealings with other players will cause the game to become unbalanced as players group up to take on the biggest threat (still I would like that as it involves more realism).

The Avatar conquest is the other form of multiplayer gameplay within Shogun II which completely focuses on the real time battles aspect of the game as opposed to the turn based aspect. Players can form two teams of up to four players each (eight players in total) that go head to head over the course of one battle. The matches are customizable, with any of the battle maps from single player being available as well as complete control over the weather and the max value the army of each player is worth. The players may select units based on their values so long as the total value does not exceed the limit set by the host thus allowing fair balancing. Strong units cost more and as such players who select them would have fewer overall units whereas players with weaker units would have a larger overall number. Players may also form up into clans, and their clan ranking is affected by their overall success.

Overall this game provides a near perfect multiplayer strategy experience and for people interested in this genre of gaming a must buy if only for this aspect alone!


Audio and Visuals: 9/10

I find that the audio is pretty suited for the game, I actually cannot put in a single complaint. The way the “adviser sounds” is hilarious and the music is just fitting given the genre and theme. I honestly cannot find more to say its good the way it is! The visuals are what truly impress me. From a holistic view where i am zoomed out, the graphics look immaculate and astounding, zoomed it the character detail of every single soldier remains astounding and the effects impressive. The game truly excels above all other games of it’s genre at its time of creation!


Single Player Campaign (Gameplay): 9/10

Multiplayer (Gameplay): 9/10

Audio and Visuals: 9/10


Overall Rating 9/10 (Excellent!)



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