Total War is one of, if not the most popular historical strategy combat series in the world. Balancing intense scenarios with deep gameplay mechanics, Creative Assembly has built a franchise that has expanded beyond one particular era - and even one particular genre. Shogun 2 is the sequel to the Feudal Japan combat game that was originally released ten years ago, and the time away from the region has paved the way for a wealth of stunning new features.
The campaign and AI has been vastly improved, for starters. Now, the computer-controlled opponent follows the millennia-old scriptures that influenced Japanese warfare - Chinese Master Sun Tsus Art of War. As a result, the experience feels much more historically accurate and allows for easy-to-understand yet deep strategic gameplay.
Battles will now be much more visceral as the action takes place in full 3D environments on both land and sea. And dont worry, the tactical campaign map that every Total War fan loves and cherishes will be available and in full effect as well. As the leader of a war clan, Daimyo, your task will be to use military engagements, economics and diplomacy to re-unite a warring Japan under his name and become the new Shogun.
Then, with the Fall of the Samurai expansion also included in this package, Creative Assembly is finally inches away from flirting with modern warfare.
The campaign is set in 1860s Japan and centres on the Boshin War. Its the latest war period that Total War has ever covered, focusing on the collapse of the countrys feudal regime as the Shogun and Emperor butt heads over the future of their homeland. A civil war breaks out as a result of Western influences and the concerns surrounding Japans modernisation.
The campaign kicks off as tensions begin to flare up between two major factions - the industry-embracing Imperials and the feudal-faithful Shogunates - with you issuing commands as the ruler of a lowly district in the far corner of Japan. At this point, your soldiers are still playing by the feudal rulebook, but as you progress and take advantage of Foreign Agents, you can train your troops in the use of modern weapons, and your tactics begin to transform too.
As time goes on, the result of the Western influences from countries like the US, France and Britain will allow new mass-produced weapons to come into play, with an emphasis on automatic artillery rather than swords. While you can still create Samurai dojos and train troops in the feudal manner, their usefulness and roles will become diminished as you tackle opponents who have embraced change at a quicker pace.
There are 40 units in Fall of the Samurai, ranging from spear squads to riflemen and horseback warriors. Combat difficulty has been increase to provide a challenge, but also to be historically accurate - if you charged a number of sword-wielding warriors in front of a gatling gun, youre going to get stuck fast.
You can now have 40 versus 40 battles, with the option of letting the computer AI handle some of the troops so youre not constantly having to micromanage. To co-ordinate nicely with this, theres better AI pathfinding and decision making during combat too.
Shogun 2: Gold Edition is packed with additional DLC to boot - making this a meaty add-on that could definitely satisfy die-hard Total War fans.