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An in-depth look into Creative Assembly's Shogun Total War what made it the genre defining game that it became.

Updated on November 16, 2014

And so it began

Way back in the year 2000 a whopping 14 years ago a games company by the name of Creative Assembly otherwise known as CA had come up with an idea, they wanted to take the gaming industry by storm, in fact that they had already decided on the type of games they wanted to make years previous, their development teams were all very much interested in strategy games and none more so than the Sengoku Jidai era, or "the land at the time of war" period in Japanese history, which was the most turbulent period of time for Japan at the time.

They had set out to design a game that other companies had attempted to create and whilst some had success it still wasn't what the gaming community wanted as far as the Creative Assembly were concerned.

They wanted to create a game that was simple and easy to pick up, yet had a difficult element to it, so far as that it forced the player to think, every action had it's consequences and so on, they also wanted a game that would inspire more people to play the strategy genre and so in a sense their goal was to make an amazing game, that would challenge it's players, and make them think whilst also being fun and highly entertaining.

The game was released on June 13th of the year 2000, it was an incredibly exciting time for the Creative Assembly team, I assume they knew the game would be popular but I doubt they had any idea at just how popular the game would then actually become, with people such as myself still playing it 14 years on.

The game play itself was simple yet efficient, it had a great method of play, it worked along the lines of a standard risk game in which you moved your armies and agents across a map and onto other clan's territories, which then would instigate a battle with the local forces or allow you to besiege the castles/towns. Or you could simply amass an army of ninja and geisha and assassinate your way across the map, the game in and of itself in regards to the battles is where it became really interesting.

It was the first game of it's kind in which you could personally lead and control over 1400 singular units onto the battlefield, this is where things got interesting and what accrued most of the popularity and fame for the Creative Assembly's very first Total War game, the terrain for instance was one of the highest selling points for me personally, the ability to use strategy in a real sense was just genius and they managed to pull it off in a beautiful way.

There were forests in which you could hide your cavalry only to flank your enemy as they pass through to attack your main force, and whilst there was no real difference in height advantage bar the range of your archers being increased slightly there was an obvious attempt to make those fighting downhill have an advantage.

This game became immensely popular due to the simple and easy UI or user interface, with all of it's buttons laid out in a simple and easy to remember position, the commands and premise of the game was simple, become Shogun.

The graphical quality of this game whilst not the greatest by today's standards was still a really beautiful game, the campaign map for instance was wonderfully drawn and in my opinion a work of art, the manner in which the pieces moved, each unit having their own scripted voices and the beautiful music that played softly in the background really set the mood for this game.

All in all this game was one of the most well made and managed games of the year 2000 and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Shogun Total War poll

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© 2014 Christopher Ryder


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