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Electronic Arts



Creative Assembly



T (Teen)



Q3 2000



- Strong emphasis on tactics

- Beatiful graphics

- Epic, cinematic feel

- Good enemy AI

- Well executed empire management



- Assassination attempts feel pointless

- Advisors voice can get very annoying



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Shogun: Total War

Score: 8.8 / 10

Wow! Now here is one pretty title. Sporting visuals that give an amazingly epic feel to combat Shogun: Total War really works to dazzle players with its 3D battlefields. With excellent empire management in the spirit of Koei’s old console strategy games, like Nobunaga’s Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, this game has a lot going for it, making it very easy to lose a lot of sleep playing this game well into the morning hours.


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The moment this game fires up players are in for one heck of a graphical treat. The visuals here are exceptionally good. Looking at the huge army units, samurai at the ready, cavalry on standby, archers good to go, one would think they’re seeing the reenactment of a scene from Akira Kurosawa’s Ran. Huge, epic battles with several thousand troops of the field are a sight to behold (except when all you men are fleeing). While not engaged in battle the map of Japan looks much like a game board with tiny figures representing armies placed in the provinces, but, while simplistic, is still very visually appealing. There are also some well done CG scenes showing an heir ascending to power after the death of his father, assassination attempts, and Europeans landing on Japanese shores. Splendid, splendid graphics here folks.





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But it isn’t just the visuals that are great about the battles, there is some very good AI in Shogun as well and a very comprehensive combat system. There are a number of way that you can set up your forces, combining them into larger units, giving them offensive or defensive stances, and a bunch of formations to boot. You had better be able to use these tactics well though because the AI has been based on Sun Tsu’s The Art of War, and the 


enemy forces can be real cunning little bastards. You think you’re about to route the enemy as they run away only to find out you’re being herded as enemy reinforcements come out of nearby wooded areas. Also, unlike other RTS games where victory often comes from The Rush, in Shogun tactics play a crucial role. Send Yari Ashigaru with some No-Dachi Samurai for close quartered combat in order to hold of the enemy forces. Next put some archers behind them to rain death on the now-engaged enemy. To finish things off sweep more Samurai around back with some Heavy Cavalry and more archers to surround the enemy and finish them off. You need to use tactics here folks. Tactics! Tactics! Tactics!


There is also a good deal of strategizing that must be done when organizing provincial affairs while not fighting. You can’t raise an army without any money so you have to improve the farmland, make ports and trading posts, anything to help rake in the dough. On top of this there is the ever present need to climb up the technology tree, improving training facilities, making swordsmiths, gun factories, and such. There are a ton of things to keep on top of here.


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The sound is also handled quite well. Hear the troops roar and yell while they’re in combat, the war drums pounding, and the army unit pieces as they’re dragged across the board. All good stuff. There is also some very appropriate music with an atmospheric Japanese flavor to it while on the game board.  If there is one foul aspect to the audio it's that your advisor's voice gets irritating after a while.  I know that revenue comes in every fall, stop trying to suck up to me and say we're doing so well that the peasants are getting fat, or we're doing very poorly and it's all the lazy peasants' fault.


RTS games have been getting a bad rap for being dependant on The Rush for the last while, but with games like Homeworld and now Shogun: Total War it looks like this is starting to change. Shogun’s strong AI, emphasis on tactics, and stunning visuals make it a very, very good RTS game.


- Mr. Nash


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