TW: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai Review
A great expansion that largely fixes the few problems Shogun 2 had while adding some interesting new elements
Posted by Tim Reid (with_teeth26) on Apr 10, 2012 - 1:00am EST (Apr 10, 2012 01:00)
Since the ships you have at your disposal are armed with significantly more firepower than in Shogun 2, you will now also be able to complete naval bombardments both in and out of battles. You can harass enemy buildings and armies in order to soften up a province for an attack, or damage an army marching towards your poorly defended city. When in a battle, you can call in a couple of naval bombardments that if well placed can essentially turn the tide of battle. One thing that bothered me with the naval bombardments is that the size of your fleet seems to have no impact on the strength of a bombardment. A single gunship will create a bombardment the same size as a massive fleet. The enemy AI will take advantage of this, and will send single ships to harass undefended coastlines. After realm divide, which returns near the end of a campaign, the enemies naval maneuvering can become a downright nuisance, as trying to destroy these solitary enemy ships usually winds up in wild goose chases of them retreating and you giving chase turn after turn.
The real-time naval battles are also much more entertaining with the increase in firepower at your disposal. There are a huge number of different ships you can build, including formidable torpedo-boats and ironclads. Battles are now fought at long range, and if enough firepower is poured into a single ship it will explode in satisfying blast. You can also take control of individual ships and aim your shots, which makes these naval battles even more entertaining. Unfortunately, the enemy AI in naval battles is fairly brain dead. Enemy ships will often sit in their starting position until you start shooting at them, at which point they start moving around seemingly aimlessly. Naval battles are still thrilling to watch however, and make up only a very small facet of what is otherwise a truly excellent game.
While the format of land battles has remained unchanged from Shogun 2, the units are completely different, allowing for battles which play out in a very different way. Unsurprisingly, there is a much bigger emphasis on firearms and artillery here, which means more battles are fought at range rather than in gigantic melees. You can still opt to shun modernization and fight battles with traditional units, but this makes things very challenging. The enemy AI in land battles has improved significantly from Shogun 2; when attacking castles enemy armies will try first to capture gatehouses to let their cavalry units in, and failing that, the horsemen will dismount and attack on foot. You also have the option to take third-person control of any piece of artillery, such as cannons or Gatling guns, but it is hard to find a chance to do this as you often need to continually update orders to your troops. Land battles are consistently thrilling in Fall of the Samurai thanks largely to the great unit variety and improved enemy artificial intelligence.
There have also been some other changes made to the campaign that don't revolve around battles. You need to worry about clan modernization; if you modernize too quickly, your people will become unhappy and will be more likely to revolt. Foreign dignitaries act as agents, and can be used to spy on and sabotage enemy armies. If you complete the right research and have the right resources, you can build railways across your provinces to speed troop movements, making it much easier to defend your empire during realm divide. Many of these changes are subtle and don't impact the moment-to-moment gameplay, but they do change the ambiance of the game to that of a society undergoing industrialization and modernization. All of the new features here are good, although some of them such as the naval bombardments could use a bit of tweaking.