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Total War Shogun 2: The Fall of the Samurai Preview
First of all, I’d like to make several things clear for those who are reading this preview.
1. I am not a great writer. I’ll do my best to keep this readable, but I may make mistakes. If you happen to see any mistakes, just send me a message. I’m open to any criticism as long as it is not destructive.
2. This is my first time writing a preview for a game. Bear with me if my writing is hectic and chaotic. I’ll keep on revising and editing this if necessary.
3. I am not a gaming expert. I’ll be writing from the perspective of an individual who knows a little bit about the game. I won’t be able to tell you technical tidbits.
4. I am one of the few people who were invited to San Francisco to try out the single player demo for Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai. This took place on the 24th of January, 2011 if any of you were wondering.
5. I forgot when the embargo was supposed to be lifted. If I posted this too early, I apologize. If not, feel free to read this short intro with vigour.
Now then, with all of that settled, I’d like to get into the business of talking about the Community Event and FotS.
Getting to the event meant about an hour drive to San Francisco, which had me worried that I might get lost in the hellish things they call streets there. Fortunately, I was able to find my way to the building pretty easily after a quick U-turn here and there. What was unfortunate was the fact that I accidentally entered the wrong suite when looking for the office. Heh. I was greeted with a look of pure confusion when I asked for Sega inside of a cooking school. Luckily, I was saved when I spotted a game console and a Sega sign in the window of one of the suites.
Upon arriving at the Sega of America office, I was first asked to wait in the lobby for about ten to fifteen minutes. Since this was the first time I had been to Sega, or to any sort of community event, I basically acted like a bewildered tourist. Before I died from my excitement though, I was saved by the fantastic community manager at Sega, Julian Mehlfield. With a friendly handshake and introduction, I was lead to a room where the event would be held. Imagine how I felt when I heard that Craig Laycock and Al Bickham were on the other side of the door.
Mind blown. Struggling to come to senses. Blank face. Thoughts: “Who am I? What am I doing? What do I say?” Panic attack. Open door.
Meeting Craig and Al has got to be an achievement, because I certainly felt a little bit more accomplished meeting them. After the meet and greet, I was seated at a computer and given the introduction for FotS. One of the great moments was when we discussed the background of the game and some of the potential units that players had access to.
Just to make sure everyone knows, FotS is a standalone expansion for Shogun 2 that is centered on the battle for power between those supporting the Tokugawa Shogunate, and those supporting the return of the Emperor. The time period is essentially the span of years for the Meiji Restoration.
Units and Features for FotS
In the conversation mentioned earlier, I asked Craig and Al about some of the special units that would be available to the player. More specifically, I asked about the Shinsengumi, a group of samurai loyal to the Tokugawa Shogunate. The only things I knew about the Shinsengumi were the concepts that I had gathered after watching Mibu Gishi Den (When the Last Sword is Drawn). To my surprise, Al mentioned that the movie had helped inspire some of the content for the game. If any of you reading this watched the movie, then you should understand how excited I was to play out a scene from the movie in game. More specifically, zooming in as my loyal soldiers fired volley after volley into the charging horde of sword wielding samurai. Ahh…what a splendid feeling. Cruel? Maybe. But incredibly satisfying.
Of course, the Shinsengumi are not the only units that are available to the player for the single player campaign. As this game takes place during the Meiji Restoration, it is very pleasing to see that CA has included foreign units to represent the foreign factions involved. Depending on how you play or as Al puts it, “Whatever nation you are in bed with”, affects what units will be available to you. One such unit available to players is a massive iron clad ship that comes with aligning with British forces. I believe the best thing I could come up with is that this is basically a “Black Ship”. If players are able to gain possession of this ship, they will more than likely dominate the seas with this ship bearing forty some guns.
That being said, artillery is one of the units that has experienced a MASSIVE upgrade. As many of you may (or may not) know, FotS comes with the feature of being able to control artillery in a sort of first person view that is reminiscent of the game, Men of War. You simply have to select a unit that is capable of using artillery (i.e: field guns or ships) and press “H” on your keyboard. Your camera is then changed to that of the view of the artillery piece/ship. Both Craig and Al warned me though that this mode is extremely addicting. In my opinion, this “addiction” can basically be called “I KILL YOU” Syndrome (IKYS). In my trial with the game, I found that IKYS is almost 100% likely when taking command of a Gatling Machine Gun. IKYS is very likely to distract players from the bigger picture and allow enemies the opportunity to take advantage of you. This had happened to me twice during a Historical Battle which I may write about at the end of this preview.
At this point, I helped myself to a cookie and a Diet Coke at the event. I really wish I had asked Julian (Community Manager) where he got the cookies. They were pretty epic. And the sandwiches. Yum.
Now, I’ll move to the subject about what players can expect to see in the real time battles. For this portion, I’ll be drawing from the six/seven battles that I played out in game.
As many of you may find out, (or know), there is a new bombardment feature included in FotS. In response to the development of cannons and ships, players now have the ability to bombard the "living ****" out of rival samurai. How does one do this? All a player needs to do is have a fleet within the vicinity of a hostile city or army. For bombardment, there are two phases in which you can attack. On the turn by turn basis, the player's fleet now has a new feature which basically turns the area of effect into the range for bombardment. During my time with the game, each fleet is allowed one chance to bombard an enemy army/town. I am not aware of the actual system used, but a sort of roll is used to determine how many or if there are any casualties from the bombardment.
The second form of bombardment is that used in real time battles. Similar to the setup for the turn by turn bombardment, the player just needs to have a fleet nearby whatever he/she wants bombed. In my experience, this feature is best used during siege battles. For those of you who hate it when your enemy camps into a massive square in the center of a castle, you are in luck. The bombardment feature in real time battles is there for you to kick your enemies into action. Of course, there is a need for this ability to be balanced so that people do not spam the bombardment feature. A long timer to use the ability helps regulate the succession of bombardments, and a limited amount helps balance the number of bombardments.
So, you don't have to worry about ships having their cannons become automatic missile launchers. CA has done a fine job of balancing the bombardment so that it is fun to use without being overpowered.
Seeing as how there is a ton of content, I'm probably going to have to reorganize thise article.
Things I need to add:
40 units on battlefield. No more of that trickling reinforcement. You get the full 40 units in a real time battle.
Isshen Ishi (SP?)
If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please feel free to let me know. I'll be working on getting this small piece I've written into good shape.