Shogun: Total War
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
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Set in sixteenth century Japan, Shogun: Total War, from Aussie-based developers Creative Assembly, looks set to bring a new slant to the already overcrowded real-time strategy genre.
In a game that draws on a tumultuous period in Japanese history that is as rich in bloodshed as it is in culture, you assume the role of a Daimyo (feudal lord) who is battling for supremacy with rival factions, with the ultimate aim of becoming Shogun, the military dictator of Japan. Combining turn-based strategic campaigning with real-time tactical combat, Shogun could well be the game that bridges the gap between Civilization and Command & Conquer, and one fans of both of those two crave to experience - hence the sub-moniker Total War.
As every clued-up dictator will testify, resource management is the key to successful expansion, and you must collect taxes from your provinces, research new troop types, organise your armies and defend your territory by building forts and vast stone palaces in order to progress. As well as resource management, politics also figure highly on the agenda, and you must send out emissaries to negotiate treaties with neighbours, and spies to infiltrate and assasinate rival factions. Once the political manoeuvring and double-dealing has come to a stalemate, however, there's little alternative but to kick some Samurai arse, and this is when the game turns into a Myth-style 3D realtime combat-fest. A look at the screenshots on this page confirms that Shogun inevitably scores highly in the visual stakes. But it's what goes on underneath that really sets it apart from other RTS games.
Because the number of units under your control is so vast (armies of up to 5000 troops are not uncommon), it's vitally important that the AI routines that control each unit's behaviour can be relied upon. As a result, the programmers have developed what they term 'genetic AT, which looks set to banish such problems as units passively ignoring nearby events, taking unnatural routes and 'arguing' with the player. Furthermore, each and every unit has its own 'persistent' attributes, honour and experience. We've yet to see Shogun in action, but from what we've seen so far it's pretty clear that it's shaping up to be very special indeed. If the developers can keep things moving at a decent frame rate and the AI really is as capable as Creative say, we could be in for a treat come the spring.