Ok so I could either blog about the fall of the current government and how deep in shit we're gonna be for the following 5 years or so, or I could make a small first impressions review of Shogun 2. It didn't take me long to decide.
As many (read: none) of you know, I like strategy games and have been playing them ever since I remember owning a computer. The earliest memory I have of a strategy game was downloading the first Age of Empires demo. It couldn't have been larger than a couple dozen megabytes, but back then with my 56k connection... well let's say nobody made calls at home for several hours.
I played and replayed that demo and the strategy bug bit me. Soon after, while on vacation, I begged my parents to purchase me the full game (Gold edition, with the Rise of Rome expansion, wow!) and finally they did. I was the only kid ever to want the vacations at the beach to end, just so I could rush home and play it.
Some other good games came and went for me, Outpost, Starcraft, Civilization. Those were all great games, but at a time when I was used to seeing 10 or 20 guys fighting against each other, along came the Total War series and blew them all out of the ocean in terms of epicness. Suddenly we had hundreds if not thousands of warriors fighting for the kingdoms, in disciplined military formations, tactics that mattered. The game was called Shogun: Total war and was set in Japan at the height of the Warrior States era and it combined turn base-Civ type management with the aforementioned epic battles, which look something like this:
That was 10 years ago; now:
I'm not going to do a deep review because a) I haven't played the game long enough to understand all the mechanics, new features, etc and b) I'm really tired and I wanna go to bed. Nyah.
Let me say again that I love the Total War series. Well most of it, anyway. The first Medieval: TW was much like the first Shogun, with sprite graphics (they looked like flat drawings moving around) but set in medieval Europe. But then Rome: TW came along bringing the first wave of 3D graphics and boy was it an improvement. Medieval 2: TW was equally awesome, and probably my favorite of the series so far.
I have to admit I didn't play either Empire or Napoleon 'cos I'm not very drawn to that renaissance period of history, muskets, cannons... bleh.
So all in all, I'm a huge fan and the expectations were high. That said, the game feels big. There's a lot to do every time. You get to choose your technologies, which are called "Arts", which improve either your military or your economy. Generals level up and you get to choose their skills, so there's a bit of customization in your leaders instead of random traits and retinues which could make your general suck ass by being completely randomly corrupt (these are not gone though, and if a general pisses you off long enough you can ask him to keep his honour and commit seppuku - ritual suicide).
There are 9 playable factions at the start, I chose the Shimazu and went on my way. When it was the time to move my armies around and get a feel for the game, some aggressive neighbour comes barging into my lands. He attacks my general's army without warning, I go to the battle map to manage my warriors... and get completely annihilated. All because my general died in battle and it seems that... Japanese will just flee in terror without a leader, I don't know. So I restarted the game after losing in the first turn.
When I finally got to turn 2 I discovered there were around 40 minor non playable factions moving pieces all over the map, which by the way feels big despite it being 'only' Japan.
So in between loading screens, filled with quotes by Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Musashi, etc., I began getting tired and decided to cut short my session and come write this, after having successfully invaded three provinces and gotten my first victories in the battlefield.
All in all it was enjoyable. It feels like Total War, and it's full of detail and gameplay mechanics to explore and enjoy. Totally recommended for the fans of the genre, and for non fans... well there's tutorials so you won't get slaughtered too bad like I did.
Now I'm going to bed befoujhujhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy