To­tal War: Shogun 2

Feu­dal Ja­pan ar­rives stylishly on the Mac

Mac Format - - RATED | MAC APPS - £28 De­vel­oper Feral In­ter­ac­tive, fer­al­in­ter­ac­tive.com OS OS X 10.9 or later Re­quires 1.8 GHz pro­ces­sor, 4GB RAM, 256MB VRAM, 22GB hard disk space Ex­quis­ite Ja­panese theme/art Nu­anced bat­tle me­chan­ics Bun­dled DLC and on­line modes Tough for be­gin­ners to

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.

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