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Total War Battles: Shogun

For:   Also on: AndroidiPhoneiPad
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Resistance is feudal

Product: Total War Battles: Shogun | Developer: The Creative Assembly | Publisher: Sega | Format: Android | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1-2 | Networking: on one device | File size: 266MB | Version: Europe
Total War Battles: Shogun Android, thumbnail 1
The impressive thing about Total War Battles: Shogun is the way that Creative Assembly has taken the Total War franchise, stripped away layers of fiddly complexity, and still managed to deliver a sophisticated real-time strategy game.

There are still plenty of units to hire, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. But there are no stats to calculate, and no health bars to fret over. You can glean all that information simply by looking at your samurai.

Skirmishes are shorter, and much more focused. In this game strategy is about making the most efficient use of the cramped battleground. Buildings, for example, have huge footprints and are terribly particular about where they can and can't be placed.

Enemies march forward in distinct lanes, can only sidestep into adjacent tiles every so often, and can never turn back.

Think I'm turning Japanese

It means that Total War Battles: Shogun is mostly about shifting things around the battlefield with your finger, rather than getting bogged down in pages of stats, minutiae, and tiresome micro-management. In some ways, the game's closest relative is actually Plants vs Zombies, rather than Shogun 2.

But that's not to say it lacks tactical depth. You'll need to place buildings carefully, cunningly use lanes to sneak up on enemies, attack from afar, and exploit bottlenecks. Strategic smarts still apply, but the game's focus is just better suited to the touchscreen.

Not all of this accessibility is so successful. For example, not being able to spy the exact range of an archer or a cannon means you can inadvertently walk into danger. But for the most part the streamlining works well to give you strategy stand-offs that you can actually win during a ten minute bus ride.

Go ninja, go ninja go

Elsewhere, the tutorial is excellent, and new units arrive throughout the campaign so you're not overwhelmed at the start. There are also optional missions that are more puzzle-focused, surreptitiously teaching you the basics and giving you EXP that to make the game easier.

The main missions are linked together by a detailed story (delivered in text, and read out by voice actors), and the campaign should take about ten hours to finish. There's single-device multiplayer on iPad, which offers a very basic take on the game. It's fun, but not a major selling point.

The real draw of Total War Battles: Shogun is the way that Creative Assembly has managed to make an RTS that's eminently suited to the way we consume mobile games, but without losing the sophistication that makes this series so revered.

Total War Battles: Shogun
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 19 April 2012
This high-quality production dramatically streamlines the RTS genre for mobile play, while making sure it's packed with enough tactical depth to make its many skirmishes tense and exciting
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Apr 2011
Post count:
NotSpam | 14:46 - 23 April 2012
Good points made: I'm happy to pay a bit more for quality games coming to mobile platforms in more numbers. 100%. That said, the current base-line prices outstanding value for some very good games already competing at lower price points. And the game has to really fit the smaller screen, touch controls too to warrant higher price - no corners cut in effect eg skirmish mode or multiplayer extras and less IAP clipping if paying upfront for what could still end up being disappointing/"just not my type of game".

For eg Total War Battles: Shogun has been called more Tower Defence than strategy which makes me less than keen to fork out already. As said, hanging on for price discount makes sense as a back up.
Feb 2012
Post count:
Axe99 | 02:33 - 21 April 2012
@DeanUK80 - this is the issue the mobile/tablet market is going to face as better quality games end up on the platform. Better quality games don't happen by accident, they take money to make ;). While there will be sales, and if you're stretched for money it makes sense to wait for them (and if you are stretched for money, a great strategy is to leave 2-4 years behind the release curve, much cheaper :)), at the end of the day people put time and effort into making these games, and many quality experiences don't suit the 'free now, fleece you later' model of many free-to-play efforts.

But I'd happily pay more for a better quality experience, than play some free-to-play rubbish for 30 hours for nothing ;). Hell, I've got an Android 4.0 phone and a Vita, and play the Vita _far_ more often, even though the games are considerably more expensive, as they're also just plain better.

Although I say that in general - this Total War game sounds pretty sharp (although it's clearly little like the actual Total War franchise on PC) - and if they bring it to Vita/Android, will give it a shake :).
Apr 2010
Post count:
jeffyg3 | 05:12 - 20 April 2012
"It seems a lot of money for a game that can be completed within a day. After that, what's left to do?"

A lot console games only last 8-10 hours, even great ones without multiplayer and they easily cost 10x as much. 8-10 hours for a main campaign has become a standard length. Plus most people aren't going to play a single game for 10 hours in one day. This game would last me a week, and of its a really good game I'll play it again later down the road or check out the multiplayer with a friend. This is not a lot of money for a high quality game like Total War.
Apr 2011
Post count:
NotSpam | 21:08 - 19 April 2012
Thanks for the speedy review. V tempted.