Smoothing out the creases
WHILE Fall of the Samurai speaks volumes of the technological change that occured in Japan during that era, Total War will remain comfortably familiar to any fan of the series.
TOTAL WAR: SHOGUN 2 FALL OF THE SAMURAI 9/10
On the surface it may appear to be a new setting with brand new units with a few alterations to play, but the main changes put in place by Creative Assembly are mostly under the hood, and looking toward areas of the game that have been lacking.
This new first-person-perspective control of some units and battlefield artillery feels like a strange and rather incongruous addition. I can't argue against it being harmless fun, but every time you miss you'll feel guilty for failing to match the standards of the men under your command.
As in other Total War games, if you do choose to get this close to your troops you'll appreciate just how brutal the battles can get. You'll see soldiers collapse under volleys of rifle fire before writhing in the mud, trying to reach for their weapons.
Fall of the Samurai has even more moments of tragic beauty than any other game or expansion in the series.
With so many unusual units, inventions and industrial innovations, Fall of the Samurai very much leaves you feeling spoiled. You'll likely want to experiment with everything in the custom battle creator. immediately hurling cannonballs at ninja to marry the old and the new and find out just how effective all this stuff is.
It's a shame that the improved AI is still a little clunky on occasion, though it mostly copes with all these new units very well.
If it hasn't ironed out all of the creases that mark the series, Fall of the Samurai has at least gone some way to smoothing them - and with a particularly unusual slice of history as its subject, it's a fine choice as either a standalone expansion or a welcome addition to Shogun 2.