Shogun 2 Total War –Trimming a ten year old bonsai tree.

PhotobucketCreative Assembly is going back to the title that started the Total War genre with more than 10 years of experience. Going back now is what most of the development team has always wanted, making the game they wanted to make right from the outset. What we got to see at E3 was pre-pre alpha, but definitely got the message across that they’re taking good care of Shogun 2.

During a presentation at E3, Shogun 2 was described as a mostly an ‘art-led’ project, with part of the art team spending more than a year to get the hang of drawing ancient Japanese style paintings to give the entire game an authentic image and boost the player’s immersion. Gameplay wise, Creative Assembly is also planning on getting back the sense of story from the first Shogun game and giving the player a sense of real control over the game world.

PhotobucketWith 30 different unit types spread over 9 different playable Japanese clans, the player will be able to combine the units and their abilities to create different combinations. Shogun 2 will also allow new players to pick up the title easily, while still being hard to master for the more die hard Total War fans.

What got my attention the most, was the way Creative Assembly has openly let themselves be influenced by the historical setting of 15th century Japan, from the art to the totally different tactics and strategies used by the Japanese to wage their siege warfare. Contrary to the rather blunt style of sieges in Middle Age Europe, Japanese siege warfare is best summed up by “open the door and let them in and see if they’re hard enough.”

PhotobucketCreative Assembly doesn’t stop making Shogun 2 a challenge for them there. It will also be the first time in Total War’s history that they will introduce naval battles when there wasn’t any gunpowder. Combining land and sea, the Japanese style of naval warfare will promise to show the player a completely different way of fighting on the open sea or close to the shores. Night battles will feature ambient lighting that will also play a key role in the gameplay. In every aspect of the game, Creative Assembly promises to make perfect use of everything that we know and love about 15th century Japan.

PhotobucketWhile the Total War game engine has been polished and tweaked since Napoleon: Total War, Creative Assembly has also already experimented with getting over 65000 highly detailed units on the battlefield. “We’re looking at ways to make the armies much, much larger than the player can control,” one of the producers remarked during a presentation. The AI is also something that is being worked on tirelessly. “The game is not getting out the door before that’s perfected,” the producer said. “We want to make sure people get to play it and know it works, not face the criticism we’ve received before”. It’s clear that Creative Assembly is putting a lot of effort into their opportunity to return to their roots. Shogun 2 is expected to be released in 2011. Until then, Creative Assembly still has a lot of careful trimming to do.

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Written by Vlad M.

Vlad wears many hats, but he's mostly known for his work as a freelance game journalist, researcher and consultant. He's always looking for the next game related project to sink his teeth in. You can find his adventures over on

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