PC Preview

Shogun 2: Total War

Anything but feudal

Ten years ago Creative Assembly released the original Shogun, an ambitious 3D-and-sprites based strategy title that for the first time saw thousands of troops on screen at once in historically and tactically accurate tussles. This wasn't Total Annihilation or Command & Conquer, this was new, and marked the start of big things for the fledgling UK developer.

Ten years later, and we're here in E3 joining Creative Assembly owners Sega, and the developer themselves, as they unveil Shogun 2: Total War - a game that will take everything the studio has learnt in 10 years and apply it to their first love; where it all began.

We're back in feudal era Japan once again, in 1545, the country torn-apart by warring states that sees the country engaged in all out civil war, nice clans vying for control of the nation. As shogun in making, you'll be looking to assert your influence, through your clan, over the whole map of Japan - taking over gradually in order to rise to supreme power.

Creative Assembly describe Shogun 2 as an "art led project", the firm looking to imbue the game with as much coherent character and style as possible, in a bid to create a truly living and breathing experience in which players can immerse themselves. The game's art, then, is inspired by Japan woodblock painting, the development team having spent months perfecting this style - before melding it into an aesthetic that works for a strategy game.

Shogun 2 will blend both land and naval battles for the first time, and these epic battles will support a theoretical maximum of 56,000 units on screen at the current pre-alpha stage. Siege battles will also be key, three kinds of castle presenting various technical challenges. In line with the new depth, so weather will play an increasing role, while seasons will depict the Japanese countryside and towns in stunning detail.

In one snippet we shown a naval sortie lingering ominously off the coast, while land units tussled near a castle. The sun was shining, and the cherry blossom was in full bloom - the clarity and attention to detail nothing short of stunning. It isn't all about the bigger picture, either, as units are now blessed with incredibly detailed faces, while the animation really comes to life in the realistic crush of two converging front-lines.

New tactical options will of course prove key in making the game 'feel' right, but the cinematic scale of the battles is already self evident - Shogun 2 feeling every bit the culmination of 10 years work for Creative Assembly. The new strategy game is presently scheduled for released in 2011 - we'll bring you more as we get it.

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