Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai is a stand-alone expansion of Shogun 2. The game explores the conflict between the Imperial throne and the last Shogunate in 19th century Japan, 400 years after the events of the original game Shogun 2 in a clash of traditional Samurai culture with the power of modern weaponry.
There are six new playable clans, supporting either the Imperial throne or the Shogunate. I started my main campaign as the Satsuma who side with the imperial throne. It is one of the most difficult total war games I’ve played, and just trying to get a foothold on the campaign map is tricky but the game is full of helpful tips, advisors, and even interactive tutorial videos on how to do everything. Fall of the Samurai remains easy to control and get around in, even for people unfamiliar with Total War games and when you start to get used to the sheer size of the game it becomes extremely enjoyable. Just like the original Shogun 2, plenty of the gameplay involves improving logistics, building up towns, researching technology, rather than war gaming, elements.
Portrayed in a limited role are Britain, United States and France. A new feature is the land and sea unit interactions which includes the ability to call in offshore artillery, coastal gun emplacements that target enemy ships and the ability to call in campaign map bombardments, bombarding armies and cities in adjacent coastal areas of the campaign map which is a great added touch and one I fully embraced while playing my campaign. I will be honest with you and say I didn’t manage to achieve any great deal of success until probably my 10th time restarting the campaign but to my credit I stuck with it on hard difficulty which was a great challenge and one when I pulled it off felt truly deserved. Other new features are railway networks, ironclad warships, improved siege battle mechanics, new agent types, the ability to control two armies on the battle map at the same time and a multiplayer overhaul. The introduction of gun-based warfare completely changes the tactics from the original Shogun 2; artillery is now a genuine force to be reckoned with, and cavalry becoming much more a mobile infantry force rather than mounted slow tank like knights. My major fear with gun based warfare comes from some pretty horrible experiences of Napoleon total war, There was an endless, and I really do mean endless, amount of shelling I took from my foes. Luckily this has been ironed out in fall of the Samurai with ammo being able to run out and artillery not being so scarily accurate.
Onto what I find the most enjoyable part of Fall of the Samurai, the multiplayer. The land battles in the original Shogun 2 multiplayer was fortress assault and defence along with open field and sea battles, but, as most walls can now be blown to smithereens in short order, battles concern themselves more with open-field manoeuvres rather than battening down the hatches. This often proved the Achilles heel to other total war multiplayer games no longer can you simply go turtle and type to your opponent in game “Come at me bro!” because maps now have strategic points which benefit your army, if you so choose to capture them. Other total war games had this feature don’t get me wrong, but this time if you capture all the points a timer starts meaning your opponent will have to come and attack because if the timer runs out they will lose.
The multiplayer takes place over the same single player campaign map but rather than playing against AI you are playing against real, and a hell of a lot smarter, opponents than the silly AI that you come across in the single player campaign. This can lead you into a false sense of security as your near unstoppable single army cruses the AI you think it will be the same outcome online, this is very much NOT the case! Online at times can seem a horrible grind as it’s primarily about levelling up your armies and units to a level you feel they can be effective and even then your level 6 army could be beaten by a cavalry charge from the back with brutal efficiency all to easily sometimes. This can be the game changer for many people who play the Fall of the Samurai multiplayer, do you stop playing because your opponent out smarted you with a far less experienced weaker army or do you gain an understanding of how you lost, willing to except it may happen plenty more times but in the process you make small changes to your army in an effort to gain the upper hand over your opponent. All of these elements are what makes the game so enjoyable no one game is ever the same. I must now wrap up this review with all this talk of the Fall of the Samurai multiplayer wanting me to go online and hopefully kick some ass!
Overall Score: 9/10
– Brian Drew