Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai Review

Having played Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai for a while now I’ve decided that bushido is now officially my favourite word in Japanese or any other language.

The Fall of the Samurai campaign is set 200 years after the main campaign and now instead of trying to secure the shogunate for your clan you now choose from one of six fiefs (seven if you buy the Limited Edition). Three of these fiefs are on the side of emperor and three are on the side of shogunate in a civil war that essentially pits the north of the country against the south.

On July 8, 1853 American Admiral Matthew Perry landed near Edo, now Tokyo, he was not the leader of the first American expedition to Japan, but it was at this moment when the country realised it could no longer cut itself off from the world.

To reflect this you no longer have to worry about Christianity coming to your shores, instead you need to worry about influence. As with culture in Medieval 2: Kingdoms Britannia, influence essentially reflects the support for the emperor or the shogunate in your provinces. The longer you control a province the more the population will support your side in the war.

This is not to say you cannot attack those clans on your chosen faction’s side, you can, this is Total War after all, but as always, you will suffer diplomatically if you had an alliance, and particularly if you have a trade agreement.

Of course the core game mechanics haven’t changed, there’s no real reason for them to, set during the Boshin War, a comparatively short and bloodless conflict, you will, inevitably, make it a far more dangerous period for the country than it was in reality.

One of the major changes that must be taken into account is guns. While a relatively small component of Shogun 2 in Fall of the Samurai guns must be reckoned with by any want-to-be general has to come to grasps with. This goes for any aspiring admiral as well; obviously, Japan is an island chain and that necessitates having a significant naval force and knowing how to use it.

Arguably the best battle’s in Shogun 2 were sieges and unfortunately because cannons make short work of castle walls engagements are largely open pitched affairs. While this is accurate given the technology of the time it’s still a pity that this had to be the case.

The game also continues to suffer from the AI defects that the series is still known for and the graphics, while impressive, come from an engine several years old at this point. Neither of these are particularly frustrating but there are issues the Creative Assembly will need to address for their next title.

Meanwhile Ishin Shishi and Shinsengumi are new agents that essentially perform the role of spy, saboteur, and assassin. Diplomatic relations are another facet that you have to consider, friendly partners can even be encouraged to send you advisors and mercenaries to fight for you.  And of course the Geisha makes a return.

You also begin the game with foreign agents who can improve the training of your own troops or boost the experience of your soldiers in battle.

There are a lot of new features here and even if you’ve already played Shogun 2, or any of the other Total Wars for that matter, it might be slightly daunting. Handily there are now video tutorials but even so when juggling technical development, diplomacy, trade, construction, and of course war, it can be overwhelming.

Fall of the Samurai has everything that makes the series great as well as a host of new features. It’s an expansion of course but it doesn’t feel like one and is absolutely worth visiting the Steam Store for.

A word to the wise however, Saki continues to taste awful.