Spoiler alert! Total War Battles: Shogun lets you deploy your troops and watch them kill each other in full 3D glory. Strategy plus simulated gore. How cool is that? Best Buy.
As far as combat games go, there is little downside to Total War Battles: Shogun. Except possibly that you have to think. The game reminds me of those old Avalon Hill war games with charts and maps and complex strategies. Only Total War Battles: Shogun involves puzzle solving skills as well. And you get to see your troops fight it out.
I have to say, Total War Battles: Shogun is a beautifully rendered game. You can deploy up to seven units of four at any given time and guide them through roadblocks and hazardous terrain. Each unit has a special skill, from swordsmanship to archery, and when they encounter the enemy they exchange blows and even fall to their knees. It reminds me of those chess games in Harry Potter and Lexx where the pieces actually did battle.
The combat simulation is incredibly realistic. Arrows fly and swords clash. Troops fall to their knees and off their horses. Each hand-to-hand encounter is rendered in remarkable detail.
The game is laid out like a game board with tiles, but there is no resemblance to board games beyond this. The board features realistic terrain and foliage. The buildings are gorgeously rendered as are the troops. Total War Battles: Shogun lacks the polygon rendering that usually plagues 3D simulations.
Players can tackle campaign or multiplayer mode. In multiplayer mode, you can play side by side at a table using the same device. Each player lays out their units and watches them fight from an aerial view. New units become available as others fall until one side reaches the other’s fort.
In multiplayer mode opponents watch from an aerial view while they deploy their units. As their units break through the enemy’s line (or the enemy breaks through theirs) they have to bring in reinforcements.
If you can’t find anyone to play, or you want to tackle a series of battles against the computer, campaign mode really challenges your thinking. You have to build the facilities needed to recruit and train troops and provide the resources they need to enter battle. This includes trade stations, forges, dojos and even shrines to recruit warrior monks.
A number of combat games have the same requirements. Total War Battles: Shogun adds a new twist. The playing board is composed of tiles, and different facilities use different configurations. You will have to figure out how the facilities fit together before you can build the ones you need. The puzzles can be infuriatingly difficult.
Game rules also dictate that structures be connected correctly. Roads between structures must align, and some structures have hierarchies. For instance, shrines cannot be adjacent to commercial structures. Building your support can be a bigger challenge than recruiting and training troops.
You can’t build your support structures carelessly. The game demands that you think through how every piece is placed, and you may have to destroy everything and start from scratch before you can build the facilities your troops need to win a campaign.
Total War Battles: Shogun is one of the most well-conceived and well-designed games I’ve seen on the iPad. If you enjoy combat simulations, you will spend hours with this one.
Jenny Manytoes rates Total War Battles: Shogun
Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Total War Battles: Shogun. There are so many little pieces to knock over she wishes she could just reach into the screen with her polydactyl claws and knock them around personally.
The Jenny Manytoes Rating System