After a decade tinkering with Western handgunners, gothic sergeants, and Numidian mercenaries, Sega says it's finally returning to the Eastern theatre that spawned its popular PC-based Total War real-time strategy series.
Recent rumors that Shogun 2: Total War was imminent weren't exaggerated. The game exists, and it's due "exclusively for PC" in 2011. Back to feudal Japan we go then, as in the civil war-flush middle sixteenth-century.
If you're up on your Edo period Japanese history, you probably remember the premise: The country's divided by warring clans led by daimyos (clan leaders), with you playing as one of said leaders, applying military, economic, and diplomatic pressure to draw the whole business back together, one nation thereunder, indivisible, with hordes of samurai and ashigaru for all.
Since Shogun: Total War came out in June 2000 (has it really been 10 years?) you can expect Shogun 2 to look comparably tasty. Building on existing Total War tech (most recently February 2010's Napoleon: Total War) Sega say Shogun 2 will feature "enhanced full 3D battles via land and sea" alongside the trademark turn-based campaign map that acts as a kind of meta-strategic game gluing the real-time skirmishes together.
I'm not sure what this next part means exactly, but Sega claims the game's "brand new" AI system was "inspired by the scriptures that influenced Japanese warfare," e.g. Sun Tzu's Art of War. Of course most wargames are, so like I said, not clued in to what Sega's getting at here. Are we talking specific AI ploys? Whiteboard-style postmortems for us to analyze? Or just the usual military theory bracketed by "inspirational" quotes like "If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles," or "All warfare is based on deception," or "Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness"?
"Mysterious" ashigaru armed with "enigmatic" naginata and "perplexing" arquebuses, perhaps?
I haven't fiddled with the Total War games in years, after reading the series went downhill post-Medieval II, though mostly because I prefer my history-minded games grounded in realism. Like Mad Minute's Take Command Civil War games, or NorbSoftDev's recent Scourge of War: Gettysburg. The latter may not have Total War's flash, but then you'll actually learn something about the battles canvassed, not just their gamey fail states and win thresholds.
In any case, you can watch the teaser trailer at the official Total War site.
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