Total War: Shogun 2 is the latest installment in what has been a very successful strategy/war game series by The Creative Assembly. Set in feudal Japan during Sengoku Jidai, the game has you take control of one of eight factions (more are available through downloadable content) to fight for the Shogunate, the rule of Japan.
The game has received excellent reviews by most publications since it was released in March of 2011, scoring a 90 on the aggregate critic organization Metacritic. The two standalone expansions, "Rise of the Samurai" and "Fall of the Samurai" respectively, also received good reviews.
Shogun 2 concentrates on combining two popular strategy gameplay types TBS (turn-based strategy) and RTS (real time strategy). The game revolves around the campaign map, where you make economic, diplomatic and military decisions to guide your clan to victory. "Agents" are featured; ninjas can be deployed to assassinate enemy generals or agents and to sabotage enemy buildings and armies, missionaries or monks can inspire a populace or army and also convert enemies and metsuke can be recruited to administrate a province or apprehend enemy agents. Armies and navies have "movement points" that determine how far they can move in a turn, making logistical strategy important.
The campaign map is made up of Japan and is divided into provinces. Each province contains several buildings. The capital's castle, building slots in the capital, farms and roads are available for upgrade in all provinces. Some provinces also have a port or other resource such as a monastery, ninja village or gold mine.
Battles are conducted in real time, requiring good tactics to emerge victorious. There are three types of fighting: land battles, siege battles and naval battles. Land battles are conducted by up to four armies per side (allies or reinforcement armies of your own) and are limited to 20 units per faction on the field at a time. The terrain varies widely from dense forests to open fields. The terrain also mirrors the campaign map; if you see a river by your army avatar on the campaign map, you'll see a river on the battlefield.
Siege battles happen when an army attacks a garrisoned city, whether it's garrisoned by an army or units that are automatically garrisoned based on buildings in the city. If you were attacked, you're manning the walls. You're on the attacking side if you initiated the battle. On the defensive side, all you have to do to win is defeat the attackers or last for a predetermined amount of time (ff the length of battles is limited and time runs out, the defender in a battle automatically wins). The attacker must capture the central point or defeat the occupying army.
Warships are used to protect shipping routes, trade nodes and ports, or to attack those of your opponents'. In combat you can board the enemy ships or shoot at them (arrows unless you have developed the right technology for guns, which requires trading with Europe) in order to win.
A single Shogun 2 campaign can take a lot of hours to complete, so this isn't a game for someone that is only casually interested. If you like an excellent strategical experience complemented by a good physics engine and beautiful graphics, this game ticks all the boxes.