Total War: Shogun 2
Feudal Japan arrives stylishly on the Mac
The Total War series isn’t for everybody. The historical battle strategy genre can cause excitement or trepidation. Total War: Shogun 2 is the latest outing on Mac and sticks faithfully to the formula – raise army, wage war and conquer new territory.
Unlike Total War: Rome Alexander – another recent Mac release – the premise switches from guiding a famous tyrant to controlling a single clan. Set instead against the backdrop of 16th century Japan, Shogun 2 emerges as a rich homage to a truly evocative period. If you prefer your samurai to your centurions then the game won’t disappoint thematically; it exhibits an authentic art style throughout.
That said, the brilliant presentation wouldn’t sustain your affections if you fail to appreciate the overall mechanics. These games require patience and sufficient time to go any meaningful distance; those less experienced will therefore be grateful of tutorial modes imparting strategy advice and interface commands. The learning curve is fair overall, and once you know how to move troops around the battlefield the rest gradually falls into place.
The main single player campaign tasks you with uncovering a beautiful world map, which you’ll achieve by capturing neighbouring regions. You’ll end up conquering enough of the Japanese archipelago to be crowned Shogun, but first you’ll use a turn-based system to
When things do kick off, however, the game shifts to real-time combat and some sprawling top-down battlefields. Game speed can still be adjusted manually if the action becomes plodding or frantic, while camera swings, pans and zooms are just a mouse or keystroke away. If you run everything at higher levels of detail, the graphics stay sharp. Even with so much on-screen carnage going on, performance
A turn-based system cultivates your starter army via a skill tree that unlocks new attributes; then let the battles begin!
cultivate your initial armies, implement training programs and spread religions. A skill tree unlocks new attributes, while diplomatic negotiations with rival clans are useful until you’re fit for a fight. rarely lapses beyond a sporadic screen tear. Battles, by land or by sea, remain incredibly satisfying as a result, and claiming victory is rewarding (whether you understand how it was achieved or not).
Total War fans have observed AI niggles, and Shogun 2 can frustrate at times; very occasionally your guys will run themselves into blind alleys, helpless to attacks, or just collide in collective panic. Such issues are rare though, and overall Shogun 2 provides a genuine highlight in the series, delivering good looks and challenge in equal measure. Throw in the DLC clan add-ons and superb Rise of the Samurai campaign extension bundled in this collection edition and fans can count on a worthy sequel. Joni Hammond
A hearty welcome to the Total War series. Shogun 2 will delight fans of the genre, but beginners might struggle.
Pick a clan, develop your armies, battle your way through the archipelago and become Shogun!
Tutorial modes are vital for learning complex battle mechanics.