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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
This review is for the original Shogun 2 Total War and not for Limited or other special versions of the game. I haven't played Limited Edition or any other version so am not qualified to critique those. I also do not engage in multiplayer so I have nothing to say about multiplayer. If you're looking for critiques of any of the aforementioned then this review will likely be of no use to you.

Also, thusfar I have only played the game on Normal difficulty. I cannot speak to potential improvements or degradations at higher difficulties.

On with the review...

Shogun 2 Total War from the Total War series is absolutely the best. It absolutely blows Empire out of the water (a game with which I was not very pleased). When Empire came out I believed CA was going in the wrong direction with the series. Whatever they were doing, Shogun 2 definitely put the series back on a fair heading.

I will start with the negative:

AI:

Land Warfare: I haven't noticed a difference to the AI performance on the Battle Map. Despite what I've read I've not seen the AI attempt to flank me with cavalry. The cavalry charges straight ahead at my missile troops everytime. The AI melee infantry does not allow their missile troops adequate time to wear down my own missile troops or my line units. They march right through their arhcers ranks and conduct a frontal assault. To put it simply, if they transferred the AI capability from M2TW or ETW to S2TW you wouldn't know. They're all the same.

Naval Warfare: The AI is no better than it was in ETW. In fact I'd say on the Naval side of things it got worse. In ETW the enemy attempted to maintain some semblance of a formation as if fought. In S2TW each AI Vessel seems to zero in on one of my own vessels and initiate a series of one on one fights. It is a very disorganized method of fighting on the part of the AI. I had much greater difficulty in Naval battles in ETW than in this game. In fact, I find it far easier to win the Naval Battles in S2TW than in ETW.

Campaign: The AI on the Campaign Map (although improved) has still not achieved Napoleonic greatness. The AI on the campaign map is still relatively easy to dupe. For example, an AI Army might be one turn from taking one of my provinces, but I incite a revolt with a religious character and they run back to put down the revolt rather than trusting whatever garrison to successfully defend. Or if you threaten one of the AI provinces they will retreat to defend their province rather than pluck your province away from you. Averting invasion through either a Ninja, Monk/Priest or your own invading army is never too difficult.

Specialty Characters:

During my first campaign as the Shimazu I dominated with the Christian Priests. They have essentially made the specialty characters too effective at normal difficulty. I constantly incited Christian Rebellions which lead to two results: it ensured the AI would stay home and not bother me and, when the Christian rebellion took the town, allowed me to pluck another province without having to declare war on the faction that previously owned the province. If my Priests for some reason had an ineffective turn I could always count on my Ninja to sabotage an Army and prevent it from moving against me. Between the Ninja and the Priests victory was a lock.

Diplomacy:

Diplomatic Options: Diplomacy was overall improved, but there is no option to demand a faction give up a province. That option is in every other TW game, yet they removed it from S2TW. I would also like to have seen an option to create a vassal as is done in the Europa Universalis series of games. I think such an option would make for a more interesting and dynamic game.

Relations: I believe there is probably a bug involved with the diplomacy when it comes down to relations between you and AI Factions and what negotiations they are willing to accept. Here's why. There are varying levels of the AIs attitude towards you: hostile, unfriendly, indifferent, friendly, very friendly. Gaining alliances and trade agreements are very difficult (which I'm happy with); however I believe your ability to achieve them should generally correspond to their attitude towards you. Now, I'm not saying that a very friendly attitude should result in an alliance, but it should earn you a trade agreement. I have arranged marriages with factions which always resulted in our relations increasing to very friendly. Yet they still refuse a trade agreement even after I offer money, a hostage and military access. It's unbelievable how difficult it is to get a trade agreement even with a faction with whom you have outstanding relations.

Trade:

Trade with AI factions is often disrupted. When this happens you receive a pop up telling you trade with such and such faction was disrupted and is no longer possible. This always seems to happen after you sell your right leg and a few teeth to get the trade agreement. Anyway, I don't mind so much that this happens as I do that it is often with no explanation. I've discovered that often times it happens because your trade partner lost a province that had a port. Other times it happens for no other explainable reason.

Now I will review the good:

Combat Units: There are some new special abilities granted to many of the units. Your general has an inspire ability which can be used to inspire ONE of your units to fight like someone took the last chicken leg off the plate. There is a refined rally capability which can work "before" your units route. You can see your generals influence circle around his unit which tells you which units will be rallied. Eventually you will get the technology to enable some of your units to do square formation (this is not a new capability to the series as it was in ETW, but it is first time the capability has been shown in a medieval type army. Though the AI is, at best, the same as in previous TWs, the new special capabilities make the battles much more fun to fight.

Tech Tree: Much like ETW you have to work your way through a tech tree which enables you to build certain units, buildings and acquire special capabilities in combat. Techonlogies are divided into Bushido and Chi. Bushido technologies are military related and Chi techonologies are related to special characters, governance, economics, etc. There are various branches to the tech tree on both the Bushido and Chi sides and you can either go down one branch to become a specialist in a certain area or you can research the branches evenly and gain experience in all the branches.

Special Units: As I mentioned above the Special Units are more capable. In certain cases they are too capable. BUt they make the game much more fun and moreso than previous TW installments, give you more well defined alternate routes to victory. The special characters aren't all unfamiliar to fans of the old Shogun. There are Ninja, Geisha, Monks/Priests and the new Metsuke. There are no spies (or Shinobi). The Ninja, the Metsuke and the Monks/Priests have divided up the role of the old Spy. Spies in the previous games can help maintain order in your own towns (Metsuke), upset the population of a rival faction (Monk/Priest) or actively spy and provide details of an army or settlement (Ninja). Along with roles formerly attributed to spies, each unit does other things. (Metsuke can apprehend and either imprison or execute other special characters (not generals though). They also fulfill the bribery role that diplomats used to. Ninja can assassinate other special characters and generals as well as the new capability formerly attributed to shinobi of sabotage. But now they can sabotage armies in addition to buildings. A sabotaged army is out of action and cannot move for at least one turn. Priests/Monks can convert characters putting them out of action temporarily or permanently. They can also demoralize enemy armies which makes them a less effective fighting force. Each of these characters as you can see has three abilities. And each character has its own associated development tree. For example. Ninja can: Assassinate, Spy and Sabotage. As the Ninja increases in rank you can choose for that Ninja to excel in one of these areas or generalize in two or all of the areas. It's up to you. It makes the game more dynamic and much more enjoyable.

Also, these characters have the ability to give certain bonuses to armies in which they are embedded. So overall the Special Characters were very much improved from previous TW games.

Diplomacy:

We talked negative diplomacy above, but it is not all bad. As I've mentioned it is difficult to reach agreements with rival factions even if you have good relations with them. From my experience alliances come and go. Alliances were much more solid in M2TW and ETW. Rely on allies at your own peril in this game. Sometimes they'll come to your aide in war and other times they'll leave you hanging. Trade Agreements are also tough to obtain and can disintegrate in the blink of an eye. You have to very actively pursue diplomatic relations. Overall diplomacy is much more challenging and realistic.

Siege Battles:

I love the siege battles. The only difference between this game and ETW is that the fortifications are now Japanese constructs rather than European. It's a pleasant change. It comes with its own new set of challenges (some for better some for worse). Overall the Siege Battles are fun and add a lot of quality to the game.

Overall, as I said before, this is the best game in the Total War Series. AI still leaves much to be desired, but every other aspect of the game I believe has been improved. CA is back on the right track and I can't wait to see what expansions are developed for this game.
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 15, 2011
About a decade ago Shogun: Total War was the masterpiece that launched one of the best Strategy simulation franchises in gaming history. It was a perfectly balanced game that combined turn-based strategic decisions with real time battles in a beautiful interface made in the style of medieval Japanese artworks.
The game was based on the teachings of Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist, who believed in the indirect approach: search for comparative advantages, use your forces with economy, surprise and deceive, and only fight limited wars. The medieval Japanese setting (relatively small armies made up from a limited number of distinct units fighting on different terrains), served as the perfect substrate to implement these strategies.
I have played every single Total War game since and they were all a joy to experience - yet nothing surpassed to the first Shogun. Until now.

KNOW THY SELF, KNOW THY ENEMY. A THOUSAND BATTLES, A THOUSAND VICTORIES (Sun Tzu)
The gameplay has matured, deepened and acquired a number of new features, including some RPG additions. We now have Mastery of Arts, a tech tree branching into Bushido (warfare) and Chi (governance & finances). There are now hero units, inspiring the troops, going after the enemy general or turning the battle at that crucial point.
Generals are upgradable and modifiable, increasing their effectiveness and making them indispensable. The honorable death of a seasoned general will affect many aspects of your overall strategy and may prove the decisive point of the entire campaign. Which is why subterfuge is so important.
There may be no honor in using Ninjas - but now they can assassinate the enemy general or soften up the enemy defenses by sabotaging their production or the integrity of their defensive structures. And because the Ninja knife cuts both ways, make sure to have enough Metsuke units to sniff out the ninjas send by the enemy.
Children serve as hostages to ensure cooperation whereas marriages are arranged to strengthen alliances. And since no army fights on an empty belly, one should make sure to set up complex trade agreements. Ones that will hold through the treacheries of war. Because sooner than later, your task will graduate from impossible to you-gotta-be-kidding-me.

INVINCIBILITY LIES IN THE DEFENSE; THE POSSIBILITY OF VICTORY IN THE ATTACK (Sun Tzu)
The AI will make your life miserable. Enemy units will try to flank you from every possible direction and they will try to make use of your troops movement in order to achieve this. And then, just when you think you are winning, every single clan and province turns against you...
It is possible to let the AI auto-resolve all battles and play the game as a highly sophisticated turn-based Civilization game - but why miss all the fun?
Unlike the first game, SHOGUN 2 also has sea vessels and battles. While in a sea battle, you either board and take over or burn the enemy vessels. However, the real strategic consideration is this: when attacking a neighboring province, did you leave adequate defenses to prevent, say, the sacking of your own castle? Because the AI does not forgive such oversights.

OPPORTUNITIES MULTIPLY AS THEY ARE SEIZED (Sun Tzu)
The graphics and sounds of Shogun 2 are something one has to experience to believe. Even on DirectX 9 (WinXP - which is the OS I am experiencing this on), the strategic map feels like flying over the real Sengoku period Japan whereas the game design goes into unbelievable details. Every ribbon on a set of armor, every blade of grass, every ray of light reflected on raised katanas or refracted through the clouds are just gorgeous.
The game absorbs you into its world and never let's go. In one word: Kan-Zen (Perfection).

HE WHO KNOWS WHEN HE CAN FIGHT AND WHEN HE CANNOT, WILL BE VICTORIOUS (Sun Tzu)
I usually deduct a full star from the final rating of any game that comes with any form of DRM that requires online activation or ties your game with digital shackles. Because even the retail version of SHOGUN 2 comes with mandatory STEAM, I did exactly that. However, because I rated the game well...above 5-stars, this could not become apparent and the game still rates a perfect score.
Yes, STEAM is the pheasant festering on the porch someone has to do something about. However, SHOGUN 2 is one of those extremely rare games that are worth their DRM hassle. If STEAM is still a deal-breaker for you, well, now you can make an informed decision either way.

SHOGUN 2 truly embodies The Art of War - and it will stay with you for a very long time.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

------------------------------------------------------------
Kokoro yori okuyami moushiagemasu.
On a more sober note, I want to send my deepest sympathies to anyone in Japan hit by the latest earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Courage and endurance have always been characteristics of the Japanese psyche.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
For me, after a brilliant start with Shogun, Medieval, and Rome, the Total War series got too bogged down with a glut of unit types. What I liked about the first three was that the simplicity of tactical knowledge required - pikemen > horsemen > archers > pikemen - to play the game did not create a simplistic battlefield. In the tutorial for Shogun, when a depleted squad of archers on a hill take out a rushing unit of samurai, the game shows its intention. To me, the Total War series aims to be intuitive wargaming, and Shogun 2 is the best one of those yet.

First, a brief introduction for non Total War players - and this is the first game in the series that they should be picking up. Shogun 2 is three games in 1: a Turn-Based overworld map (Think Civilization), a squad-based Real-Time-Strategy battle system (The best in the business), and a unit-based RTS Naval battle system. You start by picking a clan, your goal is to take over Japan. There are also multiplayer modes, but they are reorganizations of the three basic engines above. It's all very simple, and instead of that being a poor choice for the designer, instead of that making a game without depth, in Shogun 2, that's exactly what they need.

When other game designers say, "We aimed for a streamlined, simplified experience," I groan and take that game off of my Looking Forward To list. But when Creative Assembly said the same, I became more intrigued, having been disappointed in the series' last couple of games. They had become overly-complex with too many units to keep track of, and too much going on for the player to be able to focus on what makes the Total War games great - intuitively building your empire and crushing your enemies. In Shogun 2 the player need not think, "Okay, how would a Shogun 2 player win this battle?" Shogun 2 rewards those who ask themselves, "How would a general win this battle." For instance, one of my favorite tactics has recently become to hide my gunpowder units (who have a short accuracy range but do a ton of damage, just like in real life during that time) in the trees, then entice the enemy army along until they are well within range of the gunpowder units, who then fire on their broadside. This sudden revealing of units on their flank causes the enemy general to shift his layout of troops, which is a perfect time to charge in with some horsemen and disrupt their troops. This tactic isn't something somebody taught me, it is something I began to use through playing the game and trying to think like a general.

And this is the key point I want to communicate: Creative Assemble have ended up with a game that allows the player to focus more on the simulation of real life that it offers, and less on the game itself. This intuitive combat and strategy system - what could work in real life could work in the game - finds brilliance in being easy to understand, yet backed up by a depth of possibilities that increase the re-playability of the game exponentially. Like the best of games, its simplicity is deceptive, and its subtlety shines on, keeps drawing the player forward, provides the backdrop for a fun gaming experience.

This is the best Total War game yet. It allows the gameplay to center on what makes the series great, and not the little things that often distract games. This focus blurs the line between game and reality in a subtle way that should be attractive to both new players to, and veterans of, the Total War series. The art direction, graphics, scripting, balancing, and gameplay are all perfectly blended to create the best game in the series, and the easiest to pick up. The theme bursts through the gameplay at every turn, reminding the player of the time period, the drama, and the stakes. Thanks, Creative Assembly, for the great game.
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40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2011
I don't know what these clowns are complaining about, but I absolutely love this game. Granted, Steam sucks complete a**. But you know what? If it weren't for Steam, the only PC game you would ever play would be some worthless port. Your first clue in that this might be a decent game is that there is no PS3 or Xbox version. This game was made exclusively for PCs and takes full advantage of my new setup. The direct x 11 graphics are beyond cool; they are, at times at least, absolutely breathtaking. The AI is rather good, especially on the battlefield with the battle difficulty turned up. There is just simply no limit to what you can do as far as recreating famous battle tactics and maneuvers from history. Show me another non-pos, non-port game where you can do that. As for the kid whining about being attacked his first turn, go play COD.
As a Civ IV addict who was absolutely disappointed (and rather nauseated) with what they did to that game, I was excited to see that I had found a worthy supplement (not replacement) in Shogun 2. The diplomatic aspect of the game is not as cool Civ IV (you can't trade tech, people seem to break treaties with impunity, the resource angle is not so clear, etc.), but the battle sequences are flat out badass. And like Civ, it's still extremely fun to vassalize some poor bastard who just happens to be camping out in my favorite spot next to Kyoto. So it goes, and so I go...to play what is an awesome game.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2011
First impressions are very positive - exotic setting, very polished interface, graphics and audio (the music score alone is worth the purchase). The game looks stunning after the DirectX11 patch was released. Battles are quick and deadly, castle sieges are a bit slower but more action packed due to the way they are performed. Strategic part of the game is involved, the expanded (over Medieval) diplomacy and character development trees are a nice feature. Tech tree seems a bit smaller this time around though (might be only my impression). The only gripe that I have with the game is a limited unit selection. The game gets repetitive too quickly. After playing 5+ campaign games I lost a bit of the interest in it. Every clan has access to the same units, the only difference being traits and bonuses added to some units/buildings based on which faction you actually choose. That quickly deteriorates into the game of rock-paper-scissors with all troops being very easily divided into 4 main categories (equivalent of spears, swords, cavalry and archers). Given, same can be said about Medieval, but there at least each category had many units in it, for a total of close to 200 possible fieldable units. Overall though, It is a very enjoyable game, with perhaps a bit less replay value as compared to the older games in the series. It will be interesting to see if there will be any expansion packs in the future.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
UPDATE REVIEW: I'm starting to more corrupted save files now and lost hours of game-play, very frustrating! Reduced rating from 4 stars to 2 STARS. It was fun while it worked though.

As another reviewer has stated, it's best to download the game from Steam. Just get the serial key from Amazon, activated and download it from Steam. Amazon's game download service has always been slow for me. I usually get about 2/3rds of my speed. Just be aware that the files are about 20GB from Steam.

Shogun 2 is a turn-based RTS game so if you are thinking that it plays like Starcraft or Command & Conquer, it doesn't. It's slow paced and the battles are strategic. Battles are long and drawn out, you can also "auto-resolve" battles but will be missing out on half of the game. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys this type of play-style.

I'm running this on SLI Geforce 480 GTX and occasionally encounter some graphical bugs. It appears on the game map; game art sometimes disappear & as well as transparent menus. I also lost about 3 hours of gameplay due to corrupted save file, it only happened once though. Not entirely game breaking but still annoying. Overall, it doesn't detract from the game.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
This game is great. As a fan of RTS games and samurais, this was like a dream come true. Most of the bad reviews are not about the game itself, but the fact that this game requires a lot of hardware. I am running this on my ASUS G75vw-ds72, and it runs just fine although it can get slow at places.
I like the simplicity of the game: rather than having a lot of different types of troops, there are only three main types each with their own weaknesses and strengths. The scales of the battles are huge and there can be thousands of men fighting on the battlefield at a time.
Online is pretty fun too, but it may get a bit repetitive if you're just playing the avatar conquest. The multiplayer campaign is fun, but taking turns is not very pleasant, especially when the other player takes forever. Online can also lag at times if the connection is not too great.
Overall, this game is great and you should really get it if you're a fan of the series or ant rts games.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2012
I am a long time fan of this series, dating back to the first Medieval Total War. The last title I played was Empire Total War which was also good but not nearly as refined as this game.

Here is my breakdown of the good (+) and what could be improved (-)

+ Smaller scale. Yes this is an improvement over the previous titles in that it feels much more refined and polished as a whole.

+ Better campaign and battle AI. I can tell the difference both on the campaign (more logical AI moves) and on the battle map, where the cavalry actually tries to flank you, for example. The battles are the standard archer/infantry/cavalry mix with some special units, but it's never looked cooler with swords. Sometimes the AI will pull a victory over you too if you don't have the right mix of units (I was playing on normal)

+ Much improved castle sieges. The first Total war title I've played where the sieges aren't completely bugged! It's so much more fun!

+ Shogun mode adds a bit of a challenge to just conquering a bunch of provinces. You do have to strategize on how and when you will take it as as soon as it happens you get targeted by everyone and have to hold out for a bit. Diplomacy plays such a big role here especially mid to late game.

+ Economy mechanics I could put my head around. Seriously, this is the first time I played a Total War game (after reading a guide) that I finally understood the economics of the game. Feels more polished and simplified.

+ Faster load times as compared with Empire but I suppose with a smaller map it's expected.

- The only improvement I would really like to see is naval battle AI. Naval battles are just a big mess as far as I can tell but maybe that's how it's supposed to be. Not really a huge fan of the naval battles but you can always auto resolve.

I have yet to try out multiplayer but I am interested in the new modes they have added. Playing the campaign so far has proved challenging, has sucked a lot of my time, but I've never enjoyed this franchise as much as I have with this title!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2011
This game is amazing best one of the total war series.

Gameplay is great not to difficult to learn. some parts are challenging but a quick google search for tips will help you through the parts that may be challenging to learn. Enjoyable from beginning to end.

Awesome expansion packs! It changes the time of the game (year begin to year end) so the expansions aren't just something to nickle and dime the player. All new units/clans for the expansions its like playing a different game but with same mechanics adds to already high replay value. You will have fun for hours with this game.

The multiplayer is easy for anyone to play even if you dont like the total war series you can have a blast on multiplayer. The game play is battle orientated so you will find yourself fighting battles with custom armies not building cities for hours upon hours in the multiplayer mode. nice break even for someone like me who loves total war.

Can't say enough good about this game! It is a must own for anyone who has ever liked a strategy game its massive and has something for everybody!

*This game will push your PC as far as it can go* This game pushed me to buy and SSD something i have been wanting but waiting on because of price. Well worth it though it improved everything from the load times in games like Starcraft II to MW3 And battlefield 3.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2012
Another Total War edition. I was very happy to see a "local" campaign mission, instead of the all spanning global battlefields in Rome and Empire. Additionally, the concept of moving to a whole new theater type, moving away from a Europe central game was interesting.

However, the gameplay took the rating from a solid 4.5 to a mere 2 since it is very USER UNFRIENDLY.

Quickview Pros:
-New take on TW with units, "local" campaign, and "Siege"-style naval warfare
-Stability far improved on newer systems than Empire TW
-Decent expansion pack opportunities

-"Drop in" battle against online opponents

Cons:
-Nightmare to control land and naval battles
-Units are unclear on their purpose, strengths and weaknesses
-Unit replenishment takes longer and is no longer player controlled
-New defense requires ALL control points be held by defender constantly, loss of one means loss of the battle.

Technical Stuff:
The game is FAR FAR more stable right out of the gate then Empire was. My system is top-spec and had problems getting Empire to run, and had to be rolled back. Not a problem with Shogun, everything worked as advertised right off the bat.

Campaign Gameplay:
-The campaign is more of the same from TW, again though, the campaign (and battle) controls have been tweaked just enough around the HUD for there to be disorientation when you switch from Rome, or Empire. I was not a fan of the constantly retooled HUD, since it makes swapping game to game more difficult for loyal players.
-The campaign elements are also slightly different, there aren't "outlying towns" anymore than get built up, but you earn spaces inside your cities for you to build a variety of buildings on. There's more selections per space, but you won't be constantly looking for outlying, undeveloped areas.
-The campaign map also does away with repairing units directly. There's no more clicking "rearm, retrain, restaff" unit and it just happens, now units have to sit and wait to naturally be retrained with new men. This can be annoying to those of us used to hell on wheels marches with massive land armies.

Battle Gameplay:
-Land armies are nightmarishly hard to learn. In creating a game without "supreme units" the designers have created units that seem unable to fight. No units seem to be very good at anything, and it seems to come down to massive bouts of throwing miscellaneous troops into warfare. The addition of tiered unit types using Japanese names, rather than easier to understand "veteran" units or "light infantry" and "heavy infantry" designators just makes things harder on the player.

-Naval Battles have completely declined into morasses of ships bumping into one another. Whereas Empire introduced naval warfare as a great and vibrant new field along with ships that could fight well, the ships in Shogun are are better left to fight "auto-resolve" as controlling them in any meaningful way is daunting. I relished in naval battles in Empire, but hung-up my admiral's hat in Shogun for "auto-resolve" unless I had cannon ships.

-Defense in depth has become the word in laying siege to a city, or defending. The cities now are completely surroundable by the advanced AI of the game, and instead of high walls and towers/cannon you have tiered plateaus guarded by infantry, and occasionally oddly placed defensive buildings. Gates are good defenses, but walls are easily walked right over by infantry. Also gone are the "take and hold the town-square" style battles, in favor of multiple positions around the town. I found it annoying to hold 5 of 6 positions, including the town center, and lose because I was repulsed off one defense position. Combine this with the nightmare of land armies smashing into one another, and defense against siege is just an annoyingly complex task, ill representing any of the players skill in the game.

All in all I was very disappointed in the direction Shogun 2 took, and I find myself replaying Empire, Rome and Medieval Total War instead of bothering with the headaches of Shogun 2.
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