Total War: Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai Review

The second downloadable content pack for “Total War: SHOGUN 2”, Fall of
the Samurai deals, naturally, with the end of the samurai era and the
beginnings of modern Japan.

Fall of the Samurai takes place
during the Boshin War of 1868. Unlike the Sengoku period of the default
game, which was about warlords seeking their own power, the Boshin war
is a dedicated “civil war” between those who support the Shogun and
those who support the Emperor.
The Imperial side is traditionalist,
supporting a return to the old ways and the isolation of Japan. The
Shogun’s side is modernist, favoring greater trade with the outside
world. While each side is made up of multiple areas and factions, the
two greater sides are very concrete and meaningful in the game.

Like
the standard game and the Rise of the Samurai DLC, “Fall of the
Samurai” has its own aesthetics and gameplay dynamics that are largely
independent from other versions of the game. One of the most noticeable
struggles in the game’s campaign mode is between modernity and
tradition. Upgrading your technology can give you advantages – guns,
artillery, industry – but doing so undermines Japanese history and
culture. Remaining traditional presents advantages in the form of better
morale and training for “classical” units like armored samurai.
Traditional units are weaker at range, but if they can close into melee
distance they vastly overpower unarmored riflemen. The balance between
“modern” and “traditional” is established pretty well in the game’s
combat system. The broken, hilly terrain of Shogun 2’s battle-maps means
that modern forces won’t automatically have an advantage, but if they
can catch traditional armies in the open their range can make or break
an entire battle.

While many of the campaign’s elements are
similar to Shogun 2’s previous incarnations, there’s enough new twists
and turns to keep things interesting. The “civil war” dynamic is totally
different from the “every warlord for himself” of the Sengoku period or
the “spread your family’s influence” of Rise of the Samurai. The split
between modern and traditional defines most of Fall of the Samurai’s
gameplay, with foreign powers and trading becoming a major issue later
on. Sea battles are more important now, as fleets can provide supporting
fire for land-based battles or bombard cities. In some senses the
classic “build structures in towns, move armies around maps” gameplay
feels kind of dated and “gamey”, but the battles themselves work great.

The
aesthetic for Fall of the Samurai is based around maps of the period,
using a more grey-toned style compared to the highly colorful styles of
Shogun 2 and Rise of the Samurai. I’ve heard mixed opinions about this,
but personally I don’t like it at all. The 3d models still look great,
but the campaign map is just very drab and dull-looking (intentionally
so, but ugly is ugly). Overall, the game is definitely distinct as its
own concept – a concept whose execution could have been done better, but
a distinct and novel concept nonetheless.

Verdict: 75/100

Details:
Genre Strategy
Style

Empire-Building
Themes

Far East
Release Date

March 23, 2012
Developer

The Creative Assembly
Publisher

Sega of America, Inc.

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