|Dev: The Creative Assembly|
|Release: March 23, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Drug Reference, Language, Mild Blood, Sexual Themes, Violence|
Once you attack an enemy army or castle, you see a completely different side to Total War. While you can auto-resolve battles to save time if you have a significant numerical advantage, you'll want to fight more evenly matched battles in person. Here, the game becomes a pausable real-time strategy game, and you find yourself in control of a variety of different units. As was the case with the original Shogun 2, the battles here show the true genius of the folks at Creative Assembly. Each area of Japan you fight in has unique geographical features, ranging from natural landforms to man-made castles designed to keep you out. Every battle has unique characteristics—your units, the enemy's army, the contours of the land, the walls you need to break down to get to the bad guys—that force you to think on your feet and adjust your strategy to the situation at hand.
While these broad outlines haven't changed since Shogun 2, Fall of the Samurai features a whole lot of fun new toys for those of us who love destroying things. From the first time a line of gun-toting enemies mows down a bunch of your advancing spearmen, you'll be hooked to the pursuit of technology, no matter what your populace thinks about it. How could you not love pounding the enemy with artillery, or mowing down lightly armed enemies with a Gatling gun?
While naval battles aren't new to Total War, they are far more prominent here thanks to the new seafaring technologies that have come to fruition and the new option to siege ports. This is a great development in a way, because it distinguishes this expansion from what came before. However, naval battles were never quite the crown jewel of Total War's various features, and there's something about them that still doesn't quite satisfy. Things are not helped by a new system that allows you to control some of your gunners in the first person. It just doesn't feel right—in a strategy game, the human player is supposed to be a god or a general, not a grunt aiming a gun. Overall, I found ships most fun to use when they were assaulting on-shore targets, rather than engaging in frustrating fights with other ships.
If you're a graduate of the School of Shogun 2, Fall of the Samurai will be a toybox containing countless new ways to play, along with an intriguing overarching plot. If you're a newcomer to Total War, Fall of the Samurai's status as an expansion doesn't keep it from being a great place to start. No matter who you are, if you like turn-based and real-time strategy, Fall of the Samurai ought to be at the top of your must-buy games list.
Date: April 5, 2012