+ Nice tactical puzzles
+ Good introduction to the series
- Too simple for series veterans
- Unconvinving story
- Non-combat puzzles
Final score: 6 / 10
Controller support: No
Minimum system requiremenets
1.5 Ghz processor
512 MB of RAM
256 MB graphics card with Shader Model 2.0
700 MB free hard drive space
Recommended system requirements
Intel Core 2 Duo or Athlon X2
2 GB of RAM
512 MB graphics card with Shader Model 2.0
700 MB free hard drive space
The Total War series has been one of the most interesting strategy series of the modern video game era, creating both huge hits like the first Rome and medium quality titles like Empire. Now the developer behind it, The Creative Assembly, has decide to simplify the core mechanics of the series in order to create a parallel one, called Total War Battles, aimed at more casual gamers.
The first game is called Shogun and takes the player base to the Japan or the “country at war” period, allowing gamers to use ronins, samurai, bowmen and monks in order to defeat enemies both in a campaign and in a custom battle mode.
The core mechanics of Total War Battles: Shogun are pretty simple to understand but they can create pretty deep tactical puzzles as the campaign progresses.
The various units use a rock, paper, scissors system that makes a solid mix, one of the requirements for success both in defense and on the attack.
The tactical battles take place on a hex grid that’s five rows wide and connects to camps, each one of them holding a general and a set of buildings.
The game uses four core resources, iron, wood, money and honor, and players need to ensure a steady flow for all of them (camp layout matters) while adapting their build order to the enemy defenses and to the resources they have available.
It’s always important to have ranged units just behind your frontline in order to inflict heavy damage on the units that the enemy creates and monks are also a crucial part of any strategy.
The battles tend to swing back and forth for a while and it is crucial to keep a solid stream of units going forward, even if it’s not clear what the enemy will counter them with on the defense.
The single-player campaign is a story of vengeance that lacks any narrative punch but gives gamers an incentive to continue by dangling the perspective of Experience-based challenges and a store where it can be spent.
The Challenges are not fully grown battles and usually involve a building puzzle set to maximize resources or a skirmish where the player needs to reach a tough objective using limited resources.
Even the normal campaign battles can get pretty hard in a hurry and I often pushed Restart in frustration only to again deploy the same tactics and get the same result: defeat.
Total War Battles: Shogun forces the player to learn from his own mistakes and adapt quickly, which is something that rarely happens in this type of casual game.
When it comes to the presentation, the mobile origins of Total War Battles: Shogun are clear but nevertheless the team has opted for a stylized and colorful look that works just as well on the big PC monitor as on tablets and smartphones.
Unfortunately, the audio side of the game did not receive as much attention and the soundtrack is monotonous enough to force me to mute it and look to some outside tracks to accompany my conquest of Japan.
It’s also pretty easy to see that the game was first developed for mobile gaming devices and relatively limited resources have been put into porting it to the PC, because the control scheme is a little more complicated than it should be and because the game relies on a slow pace that, as far as I could see, cannot be sped up in any way.
The concept at the heart of the Total War Battles: Shogun is a solid one and The Creative Assembly can certainly adapt it to its other preferred time periods, from Rome to the Napoleonic Wars, but in order to fully satisfy the developers need to make sure that they introduce some more variety and create bigger rewards to drive gamers forward.