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Shogun 2 Early Moments

March 18th, 2011 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Creative Assembly

So I got sucked in, mostly because Bill Abner told me that it was actually pretty good – the regular elimination of the Oda on the first turn (ever single game) notwithstanding. You can read his game diaries on No High Scores – first turn here.

Though I defended the general design principles and aesthetic of the Creative Assembly games in a very spirited Three Moves Ahead near the beginning of its run, I can’t deny that I was exhausted by the idea of playing another Total War game. The changes have been gradual, the campaign AI was never really all that good without some cheating that could get annoying, and by the time I saw Shogun 2 at E3, I was immune to the spectacle. I did not want to buy this.

But here I am playing it and I can’t say I’ve put a ton of time into it. Some battles, some campaign tests, no multiplayer yet. And I have to say that I am pleased by what I am seeing, even on normal difficulty.

The AI controlled generals still do suicide runs into the waiting arms of your spearmen, and it is still incompetent at sieges – can’t assault in an aggressive or cohesive manner and will never starve you long enough. But for the most part, the battle AI is improved. I’ve seen the computer retreat to reform lines, spring ambushes, pause before attacking…all things that I rely on. I would regularly mop up enemy armies that outnumbered me 2 to 1 in early Total War games. I can’t expect that to happen now, even if I have a friendly battlefield.

Strategically, the computer is also better. It will offer sensible peaces when it is being pummeled, it will move assertively to claim trade ports and knock out weak factions, and will almost never offer battle if it thinks that it doesn’t have a chance. You don’t have that trickle of nonsense units trying to wear you down. And, even better, it will use the oceans to move its troops.

There are still some issues. The aforementioned Oda Elimination Consistency is very disappointing since it means the AI will do the same thing in the opening moves of every game. I am still not sure the AI is using the ninjas and monks, but that’s probably because I am not deep enough into some parts of the game yet.

But it’s a surprise that I like it as much as I do considering how unenthusiastic I was. I am not saying you should buy it now, but I am saying you should give it a hearing before just passing by.


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Gormongous

    Yes! The one person I wanted to hear comment on the new Total War just did (well, one of two, but I’m not sure when or if I’ll get Tom Chick’s views), and confirmed a lot of my suspicions.

    Ever since Empire, Creative Assembly has become the new Paradox for me. Let enthusiasts buy it and ride out the rough months, so I don’t lose it in a fit of pique when I do eventually invest.

  • Warren

    I haven’t seen the AI using any ninjas or monks against me ( but if he’s any good would I see the ninja ?! ) but I have seen extensive use of the Metsuke against my agents.

  • bill abner

    I have discovered 2 enemy ninjas btw. They are out there.

  • MFToast

    Glad to hear you like this one! I really loved that the demo leaves you betrayed and outnumbered. Unfortunately, no new games ’till I upgrade some hardware, I’m beginning to fall behind the performance curve. Personally, I didn’t care that you couldn’t see your troops’ HDR individually-rendered nose hairs in Medieval II, and it’s still a pretty good game in my opinion. I would love to dive into this in the future, though.

  • Sarkus

    I had sworn CA off after Empire and paid little attention to this, but here it is running on my computer after all. To be honest, that wouldn’t likely have happened if Amazon hadn’t already had the digital version on sale last weekend for $40, but general buzz was pretty good.

    And so far, it’s a pretty good game. One thing that killed Empire for me was the elimination of the leader management. Simply hiring generals isn’t anywhere near as much fun as managing your dynasty. And Shogun II not only brought that back, they added new elements. So it’s better than ever.

    Oh, and the battles are pretty tough as well. I’m playing one of the “easy” clans on normal difficulty and have had to survive some disasters already. You still see the poor decisions on the tactical level, but generally it seems smarter.

  • Ginger Yellow

    I’m really enjoying it too so far, but then, Total War was pretty much the series the Chick Parabola was invented for. Other than some pretty clear bugs – I’ve had to fast forward a few sieges when the attacking general and units just sat outside the castle doing nothing and I didn’t have enough strength to sally out – the only really glaring AI issue I’ve encountered is its inability to judge the strength required to take on a stronghold or higher fort. If you have more than a handful of units you can take on vast armies and not lose a single unit. Yet the AI will often attack with equal stacks. I wonder if this is related to the siege autoresolve issue, which seems to pretty much ignore the castle defences and makes it impossible to autoresolve when you’re defending (and a very cheap exploit if you’re attacking).

    Other than that though, I’m pretty impressed. The battle AI is still maintaining the illusion for the most part, suicide generals set aside, while the strategic AI can be pretty ruthless, landing full stacks deep behind your lines to take out an ill-defended region, slaughtering your agents/generals with metsuke and ninjas, and harrassing your economy with sabotage. This is the first TW game where I’ve ever really bothered with agents, and it’s totally necessary now unless you want to be overrun with them.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the late game, as, well, let’s just say its divisive.

  • Warren

    I’ll add that I’ve seen the AI land full stacks far behind the front lines in Shogun 2.

    I can just imagine in their design docs under People DO Notice : Don’t forget to teach the AI how to conduct amphibious operations this time around, for God’s sake!

  • Adam Solo

    I’m looking forward to play Shogun 2 Total War. I’m a fan of the Total War Games, my favorite was Rome Total War.

    It’s a pity though that the generals don’t behave as they should, as tou say “The AI controlled generals still do suicide runs into the waiting arms of your spearmen, and it is still incompetent at sieges”. I remember this well from Rome Total War.

    But looking forward to play Shogun 2, reviews have been great.

    [blog]: Space Strategy Games Sector