Serious Samurai- A Total War: Shogun 2 Chat

They should really put warning labels on those cans of fake tan.

Jim’s already presented his robust review of Shogun 2, but why stop there? Why, indeed. Quinns has also been dropping hour after hour into this fathomless construction, like guppies into the mouth of a coy carp, and met up with Jim in the Talking Room of Castle Shotgun for a chat.

Jim: OK, so, we’ve been playing Shogun 2, the latest of the Total War games, and the first one they remembered to be put Total War at the front of its name. And that’s sort of indicative to me, because it symbolises the Total Warness of the game being at the forefront.
Jim: It’s more Total Warish than Empire was, because it hasn’t tried to do anything particularly new or different. Instead, it’s a kind of gently refinement.
Jim: Did you find it to be refined, Q?
Quinns: Yes, absolutely. It feels pure. If I were the kind of man to take an illegal drug, I would at this point make a comparison to the game being like a bag of such a drug cut with almost no household cleaning supplies whatsoever.
Quinns: Instead I’ll say it feels zen. As zen as the cherry blossoms and death poetry that fill the game.
Jim: Yeah, the loading screen quotes are of a particularly fine vintage this time.
Quinns: If I’m honest, I didn’t think Creative Assembly had this game in them.
Jim: I dunno, I feel like they’ve re-evaluated things. This feels like the game they should be making, after all this time. It’s little things, like the fact that bridges are superfluous and people just cross the shallow rivers, or that sieges are straightforward because anyone can assail the walls.
Quinns: Sure. But you mentioned them not doing anything new, and while the setting is obviously familiar I’m actually finding myself consistently impressed at the quantity of new stuff in the game.
Jim: Well, it’s a new game, I’m not saying they didn’t make it afresh, what is over-familiar is the Total War template that is stamped across everything.

Quinns: Yeah. The difference this time around is the new stuff isn’t a new era of history, with new units and new content, it’s in all the new game mechanics. The naval battles, the skill trees, all the multiplayer stuff. I’m surprising myself at how much I’m enjoying it. It feels like the game’s been elevated. And God, I’m thrilling at Total War tropes I haven’t been impressed by for the better part of a decade. The other night I was sieging a fort and the single unit of samurai retainers hiding inside came out to face my army of thousands. 40 stern little men marching into the mouth of death. It was genuinely touching.
Jim: I didn’t care much for the naval battles, I have to say. I ended up auto-resolving them. I just didn’t enjoy the battles
Quinns: I haven’t got properly stuck in to the naval battles yet, but the tutorial seemed entertaining. You find them too slow? Too cumbersome?
Jim: They are pretty slow, but I don’t think they represent that interesting a challenge. Perhaps it’s the lack of real terrain, but really it becomes force of numbers. There’s no cavalry charge. You pile on damage with bow-ships and then get in close to finish. It’s just less interesting than land battles as a tactical conceit.
Quinns: I guess that’s why they added some sea terrain- the shallow waters and islets.
Jim: Yeah, but it’s just like stuff you have to move around, it’s not exactly the same as taking a hill, or fighting for a castle
Quinns: Maybe I’ll grow to hate the naval battles. At the minute I’m just enjoying making use of my high-powered force of monks. Were the unique building chains in each province in previous Total War games? I don’t think they were. That’s a lovely new feature. I know previous games had unique resources, but this is something else.
Jim: Previous games had specialised units from particular regions, but this has more depth.
Quinns: Depth is the word. I think depth on a smaller scale, that of individual provinces, agents and characters, is why Shogun 2 might be kickstarting my love for the series again. My interest in the game wanes the moment I have more than, say, 10 provinces. Here, I can be a clan of underdog hicks in the middle of nowhere scraping together pathetic armies for any number of last stands, and the game still gives me flexibility.

Jim: How have you found overall difficulty?
Quinns: I dived straight into Hard mode and am finding it pretty perfect. Which is to say, I’m receiving a bruise for each and every one of my mistakes. Conquering provinces feels like I’m clawing them out of my opponent’s strong hands.
Quinns: Playing as the Date clan has given me a unique challenge to overcome. They’re based in Northernmost Japan, where the provinces are so enormous that moving troops from my capital to the frontline take the better part of a year and a half.
Jim: Yeah, the back and forth is really savage, especially when you’re brutally suppressing Christian rebels in your previously claimed provinces. I do like a bit of Christian suppression.
Quinns: I haven’t encountered and Christian nations yet. All Buddhist-Shinto as far as the eye can see up North. My monks busy themselves by visiting enemy generals and talking to them about pacifism. When they’re not getting shanked by ninja, that is. I hate ninjas so bad.
Jim: See I never had that much trouble with Ninjas, and equally didn’t find them that effective. Monks and the secret police type dudes were my best agents.
Quinns: Ninjas gain experience veeeery slowly if you assign them to armies as scouts, or to cities as criminal informants.So I guess you do that until they’re level 2.
Quinns: Still- unique skill trees for each agent! God, I’m so attached to every one of my leaders and agents. The narrative writes itself.

Jim: So one of my feelings is that the characters, your generals and leaders, have quietly been one of the best features of Total War for a long time now. The horror of losing your star general is always a big deal, but here you might have to have him kill himself for not respecting you.
Quinns: My star general is a vainglorious poet who has terrible loyalty because of his ego.
Quinns: Excellently, his brother fights in the army and is a superior warrior. I’m kind of hoping the poet general will be bribed away, and the two of them will clash on the field of battle.
Jim: it’s interesting that the game doesn’t really sell this stuff you directly, it’s more sort of discovered as you manage your clan.
Quinns: I love it. Overall, I think I only have two problems with it. The first being it eats hour after hour without thinking about it. But it’s also quite ponderous, with all the loading times and quickloads to correct your fatal mistakes.
Jim: Yes, Total War is a huge machine, slowly rolling forward with each turn. Undynamic and preponderous.

Quinns: Right. And I actually find myself thinking of it as quite a hostile presence in my life, if that makes any sense. I lost the whole evening to it last night and that wasn’t really an evening I could afford to lose.
Jim: It’s significantly lighter than Empire, too.
Quinns: You think? I think it’s lost weight in the right places and gained it in the right places, like some gargantuan robot prize fighter.
Quinns: My other problem is the bugs. Crashes, inconsistencies. I think I’ll be returning to the game in a couple of weeks.
Jim: Actually one of my main annoyances while reviewing it was that the separate difficulty slider for battle difficulty was gone, but it’s actually there in the options once you start the game, I just didn’t notice it. (And why would I?)
Quinns: Does increasing battle difficulty change enemy tactics or just how tough enemy troops are?
Jim: A bit of both, as far as I can tell. I spent a lot of time playing through the same battle. There’s a marked increase in cavalry cleverness as they go up. Also the lower level difficulties will happily charge a hilltop group
Quinns: I want to get back in there. I want to experiment with fire throwers, and starting as other clans, and getting high level agents and citadels and all the rest. There’s so much here.

Quinns: I wonder what they’ll do next? Rome 2? I’d love to see Rome get this kind of attention.
Jim: I wonder if that’s what we’re in for: a second tour. Or third, if they do the Medieval period again.
Quinns: Urgh. I’ve just realised that Shogun 2 will almost certainly be getting an expansion pack. What an unpleasantly vast game that’ll be.
Jim: Randomly, they should do a fantasy version
Quinns: King Arthur 2’s inbound, at least. But yeah- I’d love to see them get their hands on the Might & Magic or Warhammer licenses.
Quinns: Or Lord of the Rings, obv.
Jim: Or their own world, Total Rings: Lord Of The War
Quinns: Totality is something that begs to be applied to everything, I guess.
Quinns: Greece: Total War, with all the gods and mythical monsters in there. You’d probably get a kick out of naval battles with a Kraken on your side.
Quinns: Or Hercules duffing up an entire regiment.
Quinns: I think I’m glad I didn’t have to review it. I have such a history with this series and it’s such an impressive technical feat that it’s hard to step back and see it as a game.
Jim: Yeah, I tried to be as cleanly analytical as possible, but it’s impossible not to see it in the context of the previous decade of Total War games. I’ve always been a Total War apologist, because I think they epitomise Pcness. That said, I wonder if I’m getting a bit tired of the formula
Jim: This time around it was – objectively speaking – quite the thing, but I couldn’t help feel a little spent.
Quinns: At the risk of pissing off anybody reading this for some kind of neat conclusion, I feel the opposite. Reinvigorated. It’s Total War presented so tidily and intelligently that it makes me remember everything I loved about it.
Quinns: No, I can’t resist. I’m gonna jump back in and see about defending my new holdings from that ungodly large army coming my way.
Jim: What I want is a grand campaign a la Total War, with a battle map made of Men Of War. In Space.
Quinns: Why can’t we just be happy, Jim? Why?
Jim: Because we are all dying, Quintin.
Jim: There are no happy endings.


  1. McDan says:

    Poignant and entertaining. Just how I like these RPS game-o-chats. I’m still undecided on the game myself, I think I prefer Rome to this. And any of the others really, although still have played the Napoleon one. The Samurai mythos and other stuff included in here does interest me though.

  2. Jake says:

    I haven’t played Shogun yet as my funds are a bit tight. I did recently buy Empire on a deal and I have to say I enjoy it tremendously. Maybe it’s because I really enjoy Europa Universalis but I always hated not being able to fight my battles.

    I think people don’t like Empire because of it’s sheer size and breadth. Paying attention to three theaters of operation and four mini theaters is intense. Gamers are so used to having things be simple and straight forward from the major publishers. Let’s look at it this way…let’s say that Paradox had released Empire: Total War. It would have been hailed as one of the greatest games of all time, even with the bugs and crashing issues. (Which btw, I haven’t experienced since I bought Empire).

    I’ve loved all the Total War games and I hope that CA keeps producing them. It makes me happy that Shogun has gotten good reviews but so did Empire…until people went back and blasted it after the “geeks” complained about the bugs and odd coding decisions. I feel like these games have attempted to do something that no one has come close to duplicating with the sheer breadth of these games. Are they perfect? No…but are they amazing pieces of gaming? Yes.

    Sorry for the rant and I’m sure I’ll get blasted for liking Empire. ;)

    • Maykael says:

      I feel exactly the same as you do. I love all Total War games. Despite the formula being the same, each has something special. I’ve never felt I am dealing with annual franchise upgrades, like Call of Duty. Rome is still a relevant game, Medieval II is still a relevant game, Empire is still played by tens of thousands of people (according to Steam at least). Trust me my friend, you will love Shogun 2 and you will enjoy for different reasons than Empire. It presents different tactical challenges.

    • Archonsod says:

      To be honest I think Empire ruined Shogun for me. It feels far too small and limited now.

    • Averice says:

      The size and breath of Empire was never the problem. It was actually really awesome getting to play in all the theaters and across the world.

      The problem with Empire was it shipped as a broken game. And I mean broken. It wasn’t just a few hiccups, the thing was nigh unplayable. I mean, I never crashed while playing it, but the sheer number of bugs was astounding and that’s what made it unplayable.

      It’s gotten patched a lot since then, so I’m sure coming to it fresh now it feels like a decent game. But yeah… the fact the game was spread out over the entire world was not a bad thing lol, really don’t see how you could possibly come to that conclusion.

    • Jake says:

      @Averice As I said, I only recently downloaded it and it’s great. I never played the “broken” game, even though that’s the one that got all the stellar reviews at the time it was released. Just going to mention that again.

      And in the reviews/previews/thoughts on Shogun 2, most of the writers have mentioned how much better the game was because it tightened the focus to a small area and less goings-on. Even on this site Jim said much the same thing. And I quote, “The issue with this wide-open, sandbox approach to strategy was that when it gets too big, then things start to become messy. Empire was arguably a step too far, and consequently everything suffered. Shogun 2 is a step back, and everything has benefited.” So that’s how I came to my conclusion about why many gamers have a hate on for Empire: Total War.

      That being said, I’m excited for both Napoleon and Shogun 2 as I’m interested in fighting the Little Frenchman and seeing how CA updated their original masterpiece, the immortal Shogun 1. (Which is still installed on my computer.)

  3. Duffin says:

    Jim, I don’t know excatly how this works, but do you still have access to the review code? And if so have you noticed whether the lack of dx11 and AA in the retail release has had much of an impact on the game visuals?

    • RakeShark says:

      I look at it this way:

      Yes the lack of of AA is a bit of a downer if you absolutely need that visual FACESLAM of utter beauty.

      However, in the…50 odd hours I’ve played it over the last week, the lack of AA is a small complaint when compared to how goddamned awesome, enthralling, and wonderful this game is. When AA does come, it’ll be like whipped cream on a perfect slice of delicious blueberry pie.

  4. Mark says:

    I’ve been playing Shogun 2 and I’m loving it. I’ve come across a couple of exploits but no real game crashing bugs, which I’m super relieved by.

    Despite what people think of the battlefield combat in Napoleon: Total War, I think a more focused, refined campaign experience is better than a sprawling, monstrously ambitious slog. There is too much detail in the Total War games for them to work on the scale of Empire and, as such, three continents is two continents too many. That’s just my personal opinion, though; I know a lot of people bathe in that kind of level of management.

  5. WMain00 says:

    I have one ninja, who I have trained into a lethal weapon of death. He is almost impossible to kill, entirely sneaky and able to assassinate or sabotage the enemy at will.

    Really, ninjas are awesome, although they’re just one part of an exceedingly large amount of awesome in the form of secret police, monks and geisha.

    • 7rigger says:

      I have the same. All my other ninja’s have died pointlessly for one to achieve maximum level. But he is a death dealing agent of the night!

      Loving the game though, much harder than the previous – although I didn’t really play Empire or Napoleon

    • Archonsod says:

      Finding it pretty hilarious. I have a top level ninja specialised in assassination who can off pretty much any general I send him against.

      He’s 73.

  6. President Weasel says:

    I am still holding out for the first patch that addresses the bugs, or possibly the traditional “second patch that actually fixes some of the bugs, for reals this time”. This conversation made that more difficult for me, until Quinns’s mention of “bugs, crashes, inconsistencies”. I do find myself looking forward to ending my self imposed exile though.

    Can you tell us, after some time with the game – is the strategic AI less of an idiot this time?

    • Raidhaennor says:

      I’m playing on hard difficulty and the campaign AI is far, far better than it was in any of the previous Total War games.

      The AI isn’t passive anymore, and when it declares war, it actually attacks, and with big enough armies. I consistently face armies of the same size and same quality of troops as my armies, even late in the campaign.

      And the diplomatic AI is a lot more coherent and resonable too. It accepts and offers peace treaties without having to conquer every single province they own ; and allies are reliable (as long as your relationship with them is good, anyway) and actually helpful (they send their armies to help when they can !).

    • Archonsod says:

      I’ve not hit any crashes yet. I’m hoping the DX11 patch might make things look a little less like they were cast in plastic, but my hopes aren’t that high. Given how utterly stunning things looked in Napoleon it’s something of a step back.

      Diplomatic AI has been a bit iffy in my experience. The fact you can see why it’s declaring war etc is an improvement, but I still receive declarations of war from clans on the other side of Japan, often landlocked, on the turn after I meet them. It seems from the report it’s due to territorial expansion, but given they’re often one province clans with no feasible way to reach me you’d think they might show a bit of common sense.

      Battle AI is spotty. I’ve won three battles so far because the AI simply ran it’s troops up and down a hill till they were exhausted before I’d even advanced close enough for the archers to fire. I’ve seen it keep cavalry and infantry inside a surrounded castle while sending the archers out of the gates, which results in them being slaughtered rather quickly. On other occasions it’s tried to outflank, lure me in via feigned retreat and some other sneaky stuff so it it capable of playing well, it seems you either get a competent tactician or a complete loon depending on the day of the week.

  7. dartt says:

    I’m playing as the Date and finding it quite tough. I have access to only one trading post and my (only) large militaristic neighbour decided to cease trading with me for about 4 years.
    I was forced to marry off my daughter to make them happy enough to put off invading me for a while and have only just managed to get my financial affairs back in order.

    I think I’d already conquered half of France at this point in my Empire campaign.

  8. Cinnamon says:

    I’m really enjoying Shogun 2 so far but I’m not really sure that I can take the leap and say that it is better than Rome. You just can’t beat the well organised Roman ranks all tossing their pila at the same time in my opinion.

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      1000 Longbowmen shooting at the same can be rather impressive too. And yeah, here you go, I finally said it : I prefer Medieval 2 to Rome, mainly because of Rome’s lack of Heavy Cavalry.

      Now stone me to death, plox.

    • cjlr says:

      No heavy cav in Rome? Kataphraktoi, man!

      I mean, of course the Romans never had much cavalry worth anything, but give Pahlava or the Seleukids a shot. Or the steppe peoples.

    • Bedeage says:

      Also those Gaulish heavy cav mercenaries if you went north as the Julii.

  9. Hedgemonster says:

    “Greece: Total War, with all the gods and mythical monsters in there.”

    Yeah, that’s a great idea!

    “You’d probably get a kick out of naval battles with a Kraken on your side.”

    Oh. You mean Hollywood Greek mythology. As in, has naught to do with actual Greek mythology and is actually just fantasy with the names ripped from better stories for want of a functioning brain capable of original thought and some actual creativity. You know, like how most games supposedly based on Greek mythology are actually pseudo-Roman-inspired affairs with monsters ripped from awful, awful movies (skeleton warriors, Hades as the bad guy, etc.). God of War, Rise of the Argonauts, etc. have virtually nothing to do with Greek mythology. I guess either the source material isn’t varied and interesting enough by itself (ahem), or the developers just can’t be bothered to do some actual research and put some effort into their games. Why base your game (or movie, or anything for that matter) on something if you’re just going to invent stuff left, right, and centre?

    Short version: you make me sad, Mr. Smith.

    • Oak says:

      On the other hand, I’d buy Harryhausen: Total War without hesitation.

    • palpatine says:

      As if the TW series have ever been very firmly history-based. ;D

    • Captain Hijinx says:

      Mr Hedgemonster

      As someone who has studied Ancient Greece for years, i can safely say that even without the Americanization of the Ancient Greeks and their mythology, Total War:Ancient Greece would still be an awesome force of nature.

      But the standard would not be historical accuracy in such a game, it would be fun, and the myth, however loosely based on reality it’s implemented, would be hella fun to play with.

    • Inigo says:

      “Okay – you play as Zeus, right, and you can only get heirs by fucking women while disguised as a swan and… wait, why are you all leaving?”

    • Cooper says:

      I’ve been reading a lot about Troy recently (for work, I love my job) and was thinking that there’s a wonderful scope for a TW-type game set in Bronze Age mediterranean, but with all the trappings of the heroic age of “that god-like race of hero-men” as told in the oral tradition.

      Whilst we now know more of how things may have been, for the ancient Greek these legends were history. So why not take it as such.

      I mean, who wouldn’t want to lay siege to your enemy and find Athena fighting by your side. Or fear the journey home because your arrogant hero-man has pissed off Poseidon by taking a leak in a sacred cove…

    • Unaco says:

      Yeah… The Kraken isn’t Greek. It was a Norwegian legend.

      While we’re on this subject though, I would like to complain vociferously about the lack of Titans in the movie “Clash of the Titans”. Both of them. Not a single Titan. Ok, there was a Grandchild of Titans, but that doesn’t count.

    • JB says:

      “On the other hand, I’d buy Harryhausen: Total War without hesitation.”


    • Archonsod says:

      I’d love to see CA move a few miles West and a few hundred years back for Total War : Three Kingdoms.

    • Hedgemonster says:

      Aw, now I have made Mr. Smith sad! I’m sorry!

      @Captain Hijinx: as an archaeologist working in Greece at the moment, I am fully aware of the possibilities that Greek mythology has to offer games. (My handle here is based on someone’s corruption of the handle “Hegemon” that I used long ago, on a forum far, far away.) I would contend that historical accuracy (you’d have to pick a period and adhere more or less closely to the material culture of that time) and fun aren’t mutually exclusive and could actually reinforce each other.

      @Cooper: I would love to see a proper Trojan War RTS. As you say, “Whilst we now know more of how things may have been, for the ancient Greek these legends were history. So why not take it as such.” I agree, but that doesn’t mean cutting corners. The ancient Greeks envisioned the myths as taking place in a world that, materially speaking at least, wasn’t all that different from their own, so I would contend a consistent approach to such a game could only benefit it. (And it would allow the developers to show off their research. I would love to see a game visually inspired by, for example, Protocorinthian vase-painting, or the orientalising art of the seventh century B.C. in general!)

      The thing that really gets me is games supposedly set in ancient Greece that have you fight in an arena. Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War (Alexander the Great in a Persian arena!), Rise of the Argonauts (Jason in a Mycenaean arena!), Loki: Heroes of Mythology (the Greek heroine in an arena!), and a bunch of other games that don’t immediately spring to mind are all guilty of this. People have a hard time distinguishing Greek from Roman.

      Edit: some clarification.

    • sonson says:

      I can only assume that Hedgemonster is Zeus, and is sad that nobody believes in him anymore : (

    • Hedgemonster says:

      @sonson: ha!

      But I guess I can’t just say what I do for a living and where I am without some evidence to substantiate my wild claims, so I’ve edited my profile. Clicking my handle should take you to my website. You can contact me using the email address or the form on my contact page if you require absolute proof, and if you do I’ll toss in a digital copy of my Ph.D. thesis if you’re interested.

      Edit: the linking thing isn’t applied retroactively, so you’ll have to click the handle that accompanies this comment. I feel oddly exposed now!

    • sonson says:

      If other deities made themselves available through email secularism might not be so widespread in the West. You may be onto something here, Zeus.

    • Inigo says:

      People have a hard time distinguishing Greek from Roman.

      You can’t really blame “people” entirely for that. Didn’t the Romans assimilate a lot of Greek mythology into their own religion?
      I could be wrong of course. I only ever did GCSE level history, and the teacher I had who covered the curriculum regarding the BC period was phenomenally dull and easily distracted by chavs.

    • Nick says:

      Yes, the Romans copied the Greeks in a number of ways, including nicking their gods and renaming them.

    • Hedgemonster says:

      @Inigo: yes, but the differences are much more profound than the Romans simply borrowing the Greek gods (at least, their anthropomorphised forms and associated mythology) and modelling their art and architecture after the Greeks. Greek and Roman theatres, temples, etc. are different from one another. There is a lot of overlap, of course, especially in the early centuries A.D. (made even more confusing when Greeks start referring to themselves as Romans in the Byzantine era), but basing your game on, say, the story of Jason and the Argonauts, ostensibly something typically “Greek” (as in Archaic or Classical, i.e. sixth or fifth centuries B.C.) and then dotting the landscape with much later Roman-style temples and arenas makes it look rather sloppy when you happen to know (and care) a bit more about the subject matter than the average developer apparently does.

      Edit: put differently, the “people” comment refers primarily to developers (or movie makers, etc.), rather than the audience. Imagine the educational value of a properly researched game, though.

    • Olivaw says:

      I’m all about historical and mythological accuracy.

      But I also love the Thor comics and think the movie looks sweet, so I guess I’d go along with whatever stupid bullshit they pull out of their ass as long as it leads to a Total War game with monsters and gods and such!

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      So you’d be able to kill your father and marry your mother?

    • Fumarole says:

      On the other hand, I’d buy Harryhausen: Total War without hesitation.

      The thought of that sends my naughty parts aquiver.

  10. BooleanBob says:

    Is that an army of Hylian smurfs four screen-shots down?

  11. Daave says:

    Divergence of opinion there, I think I side with Quinn’s though, it’s the details that have been improved immeasurably.

    I marched back into enemy territory after a winter of recovering my troop numbers and found a statue commemorating the huge battle I had there last year. The avatar of my Daimyo is the same in battle, on the map and in the family tree. My favourite ninja got arrested for trespassing rather than being killed, like the assassins in previous games. You don’t need to micromanage your troops to get them back up to full unit size. You can make designated cavalry generals or castle-defending generals much more easily. And so on.

  12. cjlr says:

    CA should just hire the guys who made EB to make Rome 2. Then, life would be complete.

    I have Shogun 2 – gamersgate’s pre-order deal was a steal – but I haven’t downloaded it yet. 12 Gb is a pretty big chunk of my monthly bandwidth cap, because FUCK Canadian ISPs. It’s sounding pretty solid though, so… good!

    • TheOldFirm says:

      Which ISP are you with? I’m with Shaw which gives me a 60GB cap. They don’t care too much if I go over a bit once every so often.

    • Thants says:

      I’m with Shaw and they don’t seem to mind when I download 200 gigs in a month.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I have Comcast in the US. What’s a bandwidth cap? :P

  13. RakeShark says:

    I think my biggest complaint about Shogun 2 at this point is that the encyclopedia and history entries about units/places/people seem exceedingly light: Typically only one paragraph, compared to previous Total War entries where the background information on various doodads were verbose enough to satisfy curiosity but short enough not to be a head spinning treatise on the subject. There is a fair bit of education to be had in these Total War games, just a small shame it seems to be slightly skimped this go round.

  14. Xxio says:

    Ok, fine. I’ll get the game.

  15. palpatine says:

    I was glad to read about traits and personalities of your generals and agents. The narrative and characters coming out of your games was what made me love rome TW, which I still think is the best iterration of the series (haven’t tried shogun 2 yet though). The different traits crossing-over between the battlefield and the grand strategy map was how most of the depth of these stories came about. It’s great to know CA realises that.

  16. Oak says:

    This was a great talk.

    I’d love to see them do the Thirty Years War next. They’ll do Rome 2, of course.

    • cjlr says:

      And I’d love to see a bronze-age near east setting. We can all dream…

    • Alphabet says:

      I would actually rush out and buy either of these, despite my belief that the whole series since Shogun 1 has been disappointing due to worthless battlefield AI.

    • Olivaw says:

      Actually, considering their policy on making games (remake, new game, remake, new game) I’d guess the next game will be a new setting.

      And considering that Empire led to Napoleon, I’d say that the setting would most likely be China.

      Which would be SO FUCKING SICK. The Chinese invented all sorts of insane formations and battle tactics and gadgetry that it would be an absolutely amazing Total War game.

    • TCM says:

      Three Kingdoms Era, because Romance of the Three Kingdoms isn’t enough.

  17. utharda says:

    “Jim: Because we are all dying, Quintin.
    Jim: There are no happy endings.”

    Thanks. Thanks so much. Oh well so much for work, time to drink in that particularly Swedish fashion.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      I didn’t know we had a particular Swedish fashion. I just had the terrible revelation that I’ve been doing drinking wrong all this time.

      So, I bought the Total War: Complete pack on the Steam sale, but I haven’t even had time to download Shogun yet. The few hours of gaming I have a week have gone to trying to beat Bit.Trip Runner. Reached final level before the final boss, but I’m about to give up I think.

      Ending the review -/
      a grim reminder of death /
      cherry blossoms fall /

    • RakeShark says:

      Wet grease on the road -/
      makes me laugh as my buddy /
      slides under a truck /

  18. Captain Hijinx says:


    Brilliant conversation, and echoes a lot of the sentiments i share with my friend in the Co-op campaign while we play together. It's absolutely fantastic to play the campaign on maximum difficulty with someone else and try to survive with them. That said, the co-op still suffers from those annoying desyncs, which there is a work around if you're having trouble. Simply upload your last auto/quicksave(The host) to your friend and have him stick it in his save folder.

  19. Fumarole says:

    Thanks for the chat guys, I enjoyed it. It looks like once I pull together enough scratch I’ll be downloading this one in no time.

    Regarding the Lord of the Rings idea, there is a mod for Medieval 2 that fills just that need.

  20. derf says:

    I find this game undoubtedly poor. I played for 30 minutes and encountered so many usability issues that I found it unplayable.

    – Graphics glitches during intro sequences that caused me to skip them (stuttering textures)
    – No AA. A crime. This is almost making the game unplayable on it’s own. I mean c’mon, it’s 2011.
    – Greyed-out video options. Like “huge” unit size setting and “ultra” graphics options are there, but unselectable. WTF?
    – Slight delay with clicking and scrolling in the campaign map. Very annoying.
    – I switched the advisor off, but it came on anyway. (Advisor is annoying anyway).
    – Formation is lost after issuing a move command to the entire army in battle (they form a line instead)
    – AI sucks. Within a minute of my first battle, a lone enemy light cavalry unit came out of nowhere and charged the front of my entire army.
    – A rather useless loading bar
    – v sync activated drops frame rate to around 5 FPS
    – There’s an ugly visible row on the top most edge of the screen during cinematic scenes
    – Sprite drawing at short distances (very reminiscent of the original Shogun)
    – Ground textures during cinematic scenes is rather bland
    – all units more too fast. Light cavalry appear to be on speed
    – i can move the camera into the clouds or beneath sea level (on non sea battles)
    – overall ugly graphics (video setting maxed) when zoomed in… (see screenshot)
    link to

    • Captain Hijinx says:

      Any graphics glitches are a problem of your own graphics card i think. Since i have none.
      The no AA is slightly annoying, but it’s getting patched in soon enough i think.
      The disabled graphics options and options reseting upon restart have been patched out, works fine for me now. If you’re still having problems setting maximum graphics, you can find resources on the official forums and Tw center to overrider your preference folder.
      The A.I. is quite effective in most cases, but not all. Your example of the lone cavalry unit is not indicative of the overall quality of the A.I. Which has pulled off some pretty effective attacks in some of my campaign battles.
      Again your graphics issues seem to be related to your card, as the game looks quite magnificent on mine. Are you running on Nvidia perchance? They seem to be getting the worst time of it.
      As for unit movement, i thought they were a little too quick myself, until i learned and adapted to the new battle style, as daft as it sounds, your armies must ‘flow like water’ against your foe, or you’re in serious trouble.

    • RakeShark says:

      I can understand if you are a person who demands graphic fidelity to be of the upmost priority that these details are important.

      However, I must say that your examples of why this game is poor are, to me, superficial and shallow.

    • Daave says:

      I agree heartily, that does sound daft.

    • Andrew Dunn says:

      I hate to say it (actually no, I love to say it) – you need to learn how to play the game before being so quick to cry foul. Like when you say that your army won’t hold formation when you issue a move order – no, it won’t. Unless you press ‘G’ to group them, at which point they’ll maintain formation no matter where you order a move, and you can swivel the facing of the entire formation by right-clicking and dragging the mouse.

      You give the impression of having played plenty of other Total War games, and this feature has been in the games since at least Rome. So fuck knows what’s wrong with you.

    • sonson says:

      I read up to the bit where you say that you played for thirty minutes, and then to prove my point wittily, stopped, because that portion of text seemed about the equivalent in totality to the rest of your post as that duration in time does to playing Shogun for as long as intended.


    • derf says:

      I have an ATI 4870 (+ C2D E8500) from about 2 years back. Seems to cope fine with all my other games. Maybe it’s too old? Drivers are updated, i can assure you. Funny how my other games aren’t glitched, but Shogun 2 is.

      As for holding formation, I’m able to do this without pressing G in Rome, and Medieval 2 (not sure about the newer TW abomonation – didn’t really play them). I’d simply select all and click to a new location.

      I’d argue that all these “shallow” points, in cumulation are what’s killing the immersion. Maybe you guys are simply less anal than me about polish. Or maybe my PC is crapping out on me.

    • sonson says:

      I have a 4890 which isn’t having any issues. It dosen’t look as nice as the press shots obviously, but it still looks better than most games do, bar the jaggyness as a result of using only shader 3. You’ll be able to make some amendments to your settings via the preferences script if you wanted to try that, might help.

  21. Crane says:

    My biggest complaint is that I think the diplomacy AI might be a little… off.
    When I took the Shogunate, every single clan declared war on me inside two turns.

    All of them.

    Even the ones which couldn’t possibly get troops to my borders, and the ones whose entire army consisted of six men and an elderly goat.

    So I reloaded and forced the Shogun to be my vassal, making me the power behind the throne.

    Even so…

    • Captain Hijinx says:

      When you take the Shogunate you get the Realm divide thing, yeh.

      My biggest complaint would also be the diplomacy, as it’s rendered useless midway through your campaign. Which seems pointless really, to throw away a potentially good game mechanic, i say potentially because even when it is useful it’s very hard to manage effectively, and some of the decisions seem a little daft by the A.I.

      That said, it can still be used, you just need to time your diplomatic offers perfectly and approach the right faction, and hope to god you get a few daughters to marry off.

    • Witrim says:

      Yeah realm divide just ruins everything you worked for in diplomacy and makes any further diplomacy impossible. It would be alot better if it was you and your allies vs the shogunates allies. Now its just everyone vs the player.

    • zal says:

      First off I just played through medieval 2.. 40 turns shy of the timeline end, but I’d crushed the aztecs so it felt done (first time I ever played it out that long actually). and also I played shogun 1 to death. so this game had some shoes to fill in my mind.

      Diplomacy works so much better than it did in medieval 2 its unreal. and finally the combat and diplomatic AI are on the same page. not every negotiation goes your way, but I’ve been able to cement meaningful alliances throughouth the game, and I’ve only been betrayed once, and never had to declare a war myself, I just make sure vassals/allies etc do it for me. and then the game starts warning me I’m getting too big, I’m going to get clobbered. and then it tells me even less subtly. So, like my quiet recruitment of yari samurai before arranging for takeda to declare war on me, I start shoring up my provinces for the inevitable betrayals when everyone suddenly realizes I’m actually going to become shogun if they don’t step up and hit me at once.

      And I couldn’t possibly be more excited!
      because the one thing that kills more of my TW saves than anything is how as you bleed out the opposition you bleed out the challenge. its not perfectly realistic, but for once I’m going to have something other than janitor work for the last 1/3 of the game (game time not turns time, 10 endgame turns are like 30 early ones). There’s a reason I never made it to America in medieval 2 despite crushing all the opposition, well until last week. and honestly, america was a big letdown in terms of challenge, so having a brutal fight to look forward too even though I’m the biggest on the board sounds fun.

      Still, they should have a toggle for it. The fact that I can’t get legendary camera with less cheating AI still frustrates me, so I can understand why diplomacy disintegrating would sour it for you.

  22. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I agree with you both completely.

  23. Sunjammer says:

    Love this game. Total War IS Shogun to me. The first game I loved, couldn’t get into any of the others. Until this one, again.

    It’s a combination of the game systems and the subject matter; This game is practically a story generator. Last night i landed my enormous (i thought) army on enemy shores and proceeded to take province after province. Cockily, when my victim asked for peace, i didn’t even bother to respond. Then i marched my army into a forest ambush. I lost *every single man*. The sheer mass of howling men converging on my unprepared army was terrifying in itself, and as the battle was joined I realized instantly how badly I had lost. Following this crushing humiliation, i was once again offered peace. Naturally I complied.

    The following summer, I sent a Ninja to assassinate the son of the general who destroyed my army. I sort of win.

    I love the music, the names, the fighting animations, the way the “fog of war” lifts as you explore. I even love the naval battles. This is a fantastic, fantastic game.

  24. Jimbo says:

    Total War: A Song of Ice and Fire and Total and War: Total War

    Srsly though, I hope they do Rome 2.

  25. Malkara says:

    I can’t even get the game to run. I’ve re-installed it twice, validated the cache about twenty times, and yet every time I launch the game, if I start a campaign it crashes a minute later, and if I click options, it crashes immediately.

  26. Ginger Yellow says:

    Quinns: Ninjas gain experience veeeery slowly if you assign them to armies as scouts, or to cities as criminal informants.So I guess you do that until they’re level 2.

    In the words of the Beastie Boys, sabotage! Get your newbie ninjas to sabotage buildings. They may fail a few times, but they most likely won’t get captured or killed, and when they succeed, they’ll level. I usually don’t start assassinating until I’ve gained at least two levels through sabotage. To be honest, I’m finding it harder to level my metsuke, possibly because I never have the cash to bribe large armies, or at least not when I need to.

  27. TCM says:

    Realm Divide ruins the game for me. Okay, not totally ruins, but makes me start over as another clan.

    It just happens too quickly. I should control more provinces before every clan decides I’m a threat to the shogun and wants to rape me on the field of battle. Yeah, I have a few big armies, but I can’t take a full stack every turn. It’s not possible.

  28. A-Scale says:

    Sounds like you guys want to play Age of Mythology. And yes, destroying real ships with a Kraken was awesome.

  29. Chronos1985 says:

    I think what surprises me most is having the balls to say ‘We’re doing something wrong, let’s step back and go back to fundamentals and perfect that first’ How many developers do that nowadays? Just one more thing to add to my bitterness toward Dragon Age II.

    Nonetheless I appreciate it. Feels like conventional views in gaming is feeling like you always have to re-invent the wheel to make a good game (Though I’m sure there’s some exceptions). Personally I’m just happy with perfecting it. Great game. Familiar and refreshing is my two takeaways from Shogun 2

  30. 3lbFlax says:

    I’d love to play Shogun 2, but I think Empire marks the boundaries beyond which my laptop is hesitant to roam. Unless for some wonderful reason Shogun 2 is less taxing than Empire.

  31. TariqOne says:

    Once again, CA ships a significantly hobbled product. Graphical bugs leading to perma-disabled anti-aliasing; hangups, drops and desyncs in coop; grinding slowdowns if the Steam overlay is in use; obvious quit exploits in multiplayer; no more player pals v. AI comp stomp battles, etc. My ladyfriend and I sat down to play a coop campaign and had to quit after 5 turns.

    Sure, it’s all getting patched, or so they say — hopefully not like E:TW, which promised coop campaign on release and didn’t patch it in until literally months and months later (a worthwhile story RPS dropped the ball on).

    Fact remains that Creative Assembly can’t ship a working game. Take my advice and avoid this title until its confirmed fixed.

  32. Branthog says:

    This game is god damn DIFFICULT! Good god it’s difficult.

  33. Kevin says:

    Yeah, THQ should buy Creative Assembly. That way they can make the Warhammer 40K: Apocalypse companion RTS game to Relic’s Dawn of War.