Total War: Shogun II: Fall of the Samurai [review]

BreakingModernTotal War: Shogun II: Fall of the Samurai takes place during the Japanese Revolution (1868 – 1869). Commonly known as the Boshin War, this conflict brought Japan crashing into the modern world. In other words, Fall of the Samurai features classic samurai fighting methods matched against then-modern 19th century weaponry. In many ways it represents a tipping point in history that still defines the spirit of Japan today.


The campaign centers around six clans divided into two factions, those that support the Emperor (the Imperialists), and those that support the Shogun (the Shogunates). The two alliances work together for a common cause, much like games like Hearts of Iron III or Axis & Allies.

Except not really. The gameplay of Fall of the Samurai is both unique and amazing. When you begin the game, your arsenal is either all traditional or split 50/50 between traditional and modern weapons. This isn’t bad. Early on, the traditional samurai squadrons are pretty powerful and serve as the elite units. However, as the game goes on, modern weapons gradually take on more importance and will crush more traditionalist units.

History tells us that traditional weapons and tactics were no match for modern rifles, and the game maker (Creative Assembly) does a great job of making that clear. I will say, however, that for most of the game, the key to success lies in a mix of both traditional and modern units.


While the land combat is a mix of traditional and modern, naval combat is all modern, with 19th century naval warfare – including three different kinds of ships: wooden, copper and iron. Fall of the Samurai’s naval battles harkens back to the naval battles of Empire: Total War with awesome explosions and (occasionally) a ship exploding in two. All of which is so awesomely rendered, it’s unbelievable.

On the strategy level, Fall of the Samurai is unique to other Total War games because it combines modern tactics with old world fighting methods. It’s fun and slightly challenging at the same time. Added bonus: you can even introduce foreign troops into the action (such as the U.S. Marines, England’s Royal Marines, or French’s Troupes de Marine).

Multiplayer options are good too. You can create your own general, armies and banner. And the playing field is expansive, including Japan’s second largest island, Hokkaido. What I like best is the option to pick a Sengoku period army or a modern Boshin Era army. And if you’re wondering: I’ve defeated a Boshin army with a Sengoku army. So, yes, it can be done.

Overall I would give Total War: Shogun II: Fall of the Samurai a 9/10. The fighting mechanics are awesome, the graphics are well done and the campaign is extremely interesting. I would highly recommend this game to any Total War fans or people who are good at real-time strategy (RTS) for a unique challenge. Total War: Shogun II: Fall of the Samurai is available at

For BMod, I’m Puching Zhang.

All Screenshots: Puching Zhang

Puching Zhang

Author: Puching Zhang

Based in Chicago, Puching Zhang covers the gaming beat for BreakingModern.

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