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Screenshot Showcase
Total War: SHOGUN 2
7 1 1
Review Showcase
203 Hours played
It's only natural for me to now write about one of my favorite strategy titles which also happens to be among the very first games I bought on Steam. My total playtime including versions prior to my presence on this platform, has to be double on top of the registered values. Twelve years since Shogun 2 has been released and almost 23 years since the predecessor left its mark upon PC gaming and would change strategy for the better.

You see, while some may regard developer Creative Assembly as a "one-trick pony" for their predilection towards strategic hybrids (RTS/TBS), the truth of it is that they not only introduced this formula, they are also perfecting it with each new Total War entry. From historical, to pure fantasy, the rocky road was eventually smoothed out.

Some steps and efforts took longer to blossom (I'm looking at you, Rome 2), but in the end it all made sense and gave strategy gamers a sense of progression even when some were skeptical about the direction in which the series might be heading. Today I shall focus on one of the best video game representations of feudal Japan. No Giant Enemy Crabs, sorry.

The base game focuses on the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States) period, in the early 16th Century AD. If you're fine with just "staring at maps", then I recommend you try out the in-depth Paradox game "Sengoku". On the other hand, Shogun 2 features visceral real time combat on top of its comprehensive campaign map, that's adopting a turn based approach.

At some point, "Fall of the Samurai" was a DLC pack instead of a self-standing spin-off, just like "Rise of the Samurai" is still present on Shogun 2's Store page. I'm obviously suggesting you try out both once you may desire a break from the Sengoku chaos. Japans's rapid industrialization plays a fascinating contrast in regards to the nation's traditional values and customs.


From still shooting with bows & arrows and wooden ships by mid-19th Century to having highly organized and modern armies and navies by the early 20th. Try "Fall" and you will understand how Western ideas were a blessing and a curse in Japan's history. Either way, the classic Shogun 2 campaign also showcases how certain European concepts brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries and Dutch merchants, would forever change the Japanese warfare and political mindset.

No matter what clan you decide to role play in your bid to unify Japan under the military rule of a single titular Shogun, religious turmoil and gunpowder shall both represent crucial parts in your late game advancements. It literally took Japanese society centuries to recover from the scars left by the Warring States period. Ingrained militaristic tendencies can only take you so far before cracking under societal pressure for more peaceful pursuits.

Tokugawa Shogunate's subsequent isolationism was a policy largely influenced by desire to fight back the aforementioned "cultural imports". A balance had yet to be implemented. You will notice the shift change from early phases of your playthtroughs, the closer you are to campaign victory. It's a proverbial one-way street which leaves little room for maneuvers.

The Warscape Engine version used to power Shogun 2 has aged like fine sake (jukusei koshu). The four seasons per turn are gorgeously represented on the campaign map while the battles are captivating even without the near obligatory purchase of the (by now infamous) Blood Pack DLC. The HUD can be disabled easily by pressing K, thus allowing the perfect screenshots / desktop backgrounds.

CPU-centric performance still means that you'll need a beastly processor if you wish to simulate massive battles featuring thousands of soldiers. That and the control scheme, are probably the reasons why Total War titles couldn't be implemented on consoles. Depending on the settings you choose, Shogun 2 can still break a sweat on modern rigs, especially if you go crazy with the modding. Frame rate drops are a reality you can only accept.


Quality voice acting (including the meme catchphrase "shamefur dispray") gets mirrored by a soundtrack that doesn't become annoyingly repetitive no matter how much you're playing this title in a single session. Seriously, the accents aren't meant to be caricatures and they serve their purpose just fine. I had no reason to mute any sounds in Shogun 2.

Total Wars have enabled multiplayer since 2007's Empire, yet it is Shogun 2 itself, the main entry in the historical series which still exhibits a flourishing community looking for regular sparring matches. I can't blame the practice, Rome 2 and Attila could never hope to reach the popularity of the aforementioned two and it boils down to technical simplicity.

For pure singleplayer usage, I strongly recommend you try some AI mods from the game's Steam Workshop for full compatibility. Sieges just aren't fun without the challenge posed by proper garrisons. Once you're accustomed with the intial roster, you can focus on custom unit packs. There are even some mods that expand the campaign map, though be aware of the inherent instability it adds to the equation.

Naval battles are a straightforward affair involving boarding rather than ramming and sinking the enemy. Japanese navy doctrine during the Sengoku period was more akin to land sieges than the gunpowder-enabled "knife fights" of their European counterparts. If the latter option sounds enticing though, pick up the Otomo Clan DLC and tip the odds in your favor as far as naval dominance in Shogun 2 is concerned.

A single nanban trade ship can take on an enemy full stack fleet and hope to prevail. Cannonballs versus arrows. In fact, despite their inherent inaccuracy, cannons and firearms will turn the tide even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles such as fighting on multiple fronts against just as many opponents. Once positioned for a clear line of sight, your ranged units will ensure enemy morale plummets.


Pick your battles carefully and then pay close attention to the terrain as well. The campaign map strategy should involve several turns' worth of planning prior to conquest and followed by consolidating your power over the newly acquired provinces. Gaining a victory is pointless if you can't exert your influence while facing dissent and potential rebellions.

The home front musn't be neglected, civil advancements on the tech tree are just as important as military innovations. A balancing act is required, there are plenty of turns left in each campaign, even the ones with short victory conditions. Better to "turtle" than to "blitz" your way across the map and leave your flanks exposed. Total War jargon leaves little room for interpretation, doesn't it?

An insane amount of replay value and gameplay variables, guarantee that Shogun 2 remains a yearly endeavour for yours truly. Always a new mod and strategy to try out with a different clan. If the prospect of instability is an issue, feel free to enjoy the "vanilla" version of the game without any qualms. It's self-standing and it serves a veritable history lesson as well. Nothing to lose here, only experience to be gained. RTS / TBS hybrids are truly a winning formula!

Strong Points
+ Beautiful graphics and sounds.
+ Replay & educational values aplenty.
+ Steam Trading Cards & Achievements.

Weak Points
- None worth mentioning.

This article was submitted for Imperial Reviews. Following my Curator Page, will help me keep publishing new reviews as soon as I can. Thank you for your support!
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