I have played a few hours the Shogun 2 and I would like to share my opinion with you in a brief way this time. First, I will write the "I Like" things and then the "I do not Like".
- The fantastic interface (very well designed).
- The fantastic music (Many tracks are re-mastered old tracks of the 1st Shogun as I remember).
- Very good variety of things to read and learn about the game (the encyclopaedia, the videos, the tutorials etc.).
- Excellent campaign map design and graphics (The innovation to reveal the 2D paper map with the 3D map as you explore it is very clever and everything around seems well designed).
- The sound all around is very good and creates cinematic atmosphere.
- The graphics are very good and the animations as well.
- The AI is functional and seems to know what to do without hesitation (very good for an unpatched vanilla game but it has some issues, read below).
- The more turns per year and the seasons are back (great!).
- The ability to choose how to upgrade your characters is truly a very enjoying factor, although this progresses very slowly if you do not fight with your generals.
- The auto replenishment of armies and the attrition are fantastic strategic features (introduced from the Napoleon game).
- The variety in campaign to use agents and the feature to decide about the fate of your people in random events.
- The random missions which can be very rewarding.
- The trade routes that fill with AI ships (but the AI does not protect them well).
- The unit balance is good overall.
I do not Like
- The insane speed of the units (I think I play with armoured insects not with human soldiers).
- The BAI as it seems becomes better for 2 main reasons: the enhanced speed which disfavours the human player as he cannot issue orders that fast as the computer, and the melee type of the battles. The melee type of the battles makes them very straightforward and simple for any AI, so you notice the AI mostly to rush forward and seek the melee and to be able to win because of that. If the AI did that in Empire or Napoleon, it would not be as successful. Personally I do not get satisfaction to play quick, click and point, arcade battles, no matter if due to the frenetic speed they can become a challenge. This type of game fits more to inpatient school boys not to veteran strategy players. But I know... I belong to the minority.
- The CAI is very aggressive but that does not mean it is 100% functional. I do not think it can hold alliances that way, and with the insane handicap bonuses you see it to raise hordes while you as the player try to hold with misery small armies. Also, it leaves the cities undefended and becomes an easy target. For example the Oda (the great historic clan) dies in turn 1... turn 1. Unacceptable. This should be addressed.
- The auto-detection of PC specifications does not work and you can have a good PC but you will be unable to max the settings or at least play with ultra size armies (this will be fixed as it has been announced).
- The unit sizes are still too small. I cannot understand why the designers do not give more freedom of choice to make the unit size bigger. The normal size should be the current "ultra setting" and so we could increase the scale more. We are in 2011, the PCs can handle this. Platoon battles are not exactly what the Total War series advertises.
- Melees are too static and you cannot see penetrations and havoc as realism factors cry for it.
- Bow fire is too accurate (homing missiles). That means they home to the targets with 100% accuracy but the game "deflector shield", not necessarily the armour of the units, filters down the damage. It would be better to make the trajectories more realistic, and reduce this "deflector shield".
- Laser trails for bows, muskets, cannons etc. can be a feature for some but how difficult would be to have an option on/off for it?
- Normal difficulty rate, seems to give too many bonuses to the CAI but even this does not help it from being mostly idle. It does not know how to protect its castles, and cannot naval invade (unless scripted maybe?). I have not tested higher difficulties yet.
- Naval warfare is not existent in campaign map, because the CAI does not know how to use the ships? (Normal difficulty). In higher difficulties it has been confirmed by users that it does that efficiently.
- The auto-calculation of battles in normal difficulty often calculates zero casualties. Although this is better than previous TW titles where it was very unfair for the human player, now it is too easy and tempts the player to use it more.
- Very few historical battles. Again... is it so demanding to have a list of 10+ historic battles?
- The battle physics destroy the good job that has been done in the unit balance. All the units are "charge and forget". Melees end in seconds. But why? To hide an AI inconsistency? Is it a desired feature to have battles end in about 5 minutes? The result in my eyes is a splatter not a simulation of a battle.
- The CAI in harder difficulties is better. Normal difficulty is something between a tutorial and an easy setting. I have not lost time to test the easy campaign for obvious reasons. But it is the many bonuses to CAI that make it difficult. The human player cannot raise from a single underdeveloped province the hordes that the CAI can recruit.
- The CAI does not garrison the fortresses. As a result the human player can easily take a province but not only him. The neglected provinces are conquered one after another, also by the AI factions. So what we have here is a chaotic endless circle. The factions cannot easily gain footholds (that is the meaning of a fortress, to secure a province). So the province conquering is mostly a brainless and straightforward action: Mass troops in a single stack-> Attack the neighbour->Probably he has no defence but does the same with you to another neighbour->You get the province->If it is his only province and he has not managed to reach himself the other province to take->He is out of the game->Next circle. Allow me to name this a childish setting... no more vanilla playing for me. I begin to mod. Read below the final verdict.
Overall, Total War: Shogun 2 is a solid and very addictive game. Even a player, who is not so keen on strategy games, can love it. There are many features to explore, thus the game has a large re-playability factor. But, the demanding strategy gamer may soon find boring the un-realistic and quick battles, even though they can be challenging and difficult. With mod enhancements can soon be rated 10, an absolute excellency. However, I recommend to players with good graphic cards to wait a little for the patch that corrects Anti-Aliasing, DX 10 and 11 support, graphic card detection and multiplayer CTDs. The game currently plays somewhat poorly visually (at least for me, Empire:Total War plays much smoother, with better visuals and with 3X more troops... strange). The first patching procedure of CA has revealed a rather hasty and inconsistent support for the game. Although they do try to fix all bugs, sometimes to try is not enough, especially in the world of commerce and money.
9.0 (For the average player)
8.0 (For the veteran strategist, the aged player of Total war games)
Note: I want to thank publicly Thoal who has gifted me the game through Steam, as a donation for my modding efforts. His kind gesture will not be forgotten.