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a game by Creative sầu Assembly International Limited
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.2/10 - 10 votes
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The Best Thing that"s come out about Sliogun 2: Total War hasn"t got anything khổng lồ vày with ninja, koku, daimyo or those sorts of things. It"s the boats and the fact they"ll be lượt thích floating sheds. That might sound lượt thích a stupid thing khổng lồ be excited about, but just think of the possibilities. Two big canoes crash into each other, dozens of samurai spilling onto lớn each deông chồng, hacking each other to lớn bits with their razor-sharp swords. And those are just the smaller ones - there are also castles-on-water, which sound too awesome to lớn be true.There"s more lớn this sequel to the beloved and now-ancient Shogun than floating boxes. The essentials will be pretty much the same - take control of one of eight factions vying for control of the L& of the Rising Sun, build up your armies and economy until none can stand in your way.

In nhật bản the Emperor holds ultimate power, except he can be easily manipulated by his nominated warlord, the titular Shogun. It"s your job lớn be deemed worthy of that role và khổng lồ control the Emperor lượt thích a puppet, much like the medieval Papacy was the lapdog of any number of medieval European kings.

"It"s basically the game we wanted lớn make right at the beginning," says Shogun 2"s lead game designer Kamie Russell. "I think we"re just pushing as hard as we possibly can to capture the entire feel và look of feudal nhật bản, while creating something that"s vivid & beautiful. That"s reflected all the way through the game, in terms of wood blocks & prints that appear on various screens how the actual way the battlefields themselves work and look, & the campaign bản đồ."

Far Eastern art is very different lớn what we"re used to lớn in the West and Shogun 2 is going khổng lồ really go lớn town on representing this exotic feel throughout the game.

"One example would be the passing of the seasons," Russell says, "because we have sầu four seasons in a campaign year. So you actually get the changing environments & the way those environments work.

"We"re going very much for the archetype of what people would see if they were in Japan. So, for example, in spring you have the cherry blossoms, và you can see petals blowing away from the trees. In the winter, you obviously have sầu the snow-covered buildings & the entire battlefield is White."

nhật bản is also different in a more obvious way khổng lồ what"s come before. Since the original Total War maps have sầu been getting bigger, culminating in Empire"s globe-spanning effort. Japan"s geographically small, but that doesn"t mean Creative sầu Assembly are thinking that way."It"s still going lớn be a game of epic scale," says Kieran Brigden, the company"s communications manager. "The campaign maps will still have sầu that epic feel, but what we want lớn vị is try lớn immerse the player in the mind of a 16th century Japanese feudal lord, who saw Japan as the universe.

"Empire obviously had a huge geographic scope that reflected the colonial outreaching of Europe across the globe at the time. That was appropriate for the period. For medieval nhật bản, we"ll portray that as an epic environment. We are going khổng lồ make sure that the player feels that the far reaches of the country are a long way away, they"re unknown, and they aren"t necessarily familiar with all the kingdoms & fiefs that are out there."

There"ll be eight different factions in the main game including the Date, Hojo, Takedomain authority và Uesugi, with a ninth playable in the tutorial. In the original Shogun, the factions were all pretty much the same, give or take starting positions & colours. This isn"t going to be the case in the new game.

"We have approximately 30 units of different types on the battlefield,"Russell declares. "There"s a wide variety there. If you think about Empire, an average faction only had between 12 & 15 units specific to it. What we"ve tried khổng lồ vày is make each faction different in terms of how they play, and what their strengths & weaknesses are with different units."

"I think what we vì chưng want to lớn bởi is make sure that each faction plays differently, & that"s true both on the campaign maps và on the battlefield," says Brigden. "We"re also wanting khổng lồ make sure that those factions play differently on the campaign maps. You might find that your position gives you specific advantages, specific resources that you hold that others don"t. We want to lớn make sure that each faction has a specific trait that makes it play differently. Not just on the chiến dịch map, but also on the battlefield."

Hero Samurai

One thing that might differentiate each faction even more is the controversial addition of anh hùng characters. Already the forums are questioning this, with conspiracy theories flying saying it means the Total War series is heading into lớn the realms of fantasy RTS. Not so, says Russell.

""We"re looking at something that"s historical," he says. "What we"re actually creating is the feeling of the battlefields at the time, where you"d have sầu men who were famous for a particular style of fighting or just for their bravery, and the effect that has on the troops around them, & the people who were confronting them. They would basically go around with a group of followers và khung part of a larger unit. They wouldn"t go into lớn battle by themselves, it"d be suicide."

Hero characters in most RTS games tover to be comically oversized one-man armies, which goes against the ethos of the Total War series (unless you count Medieval"s Berserkers who could defeat entire peasant armies on their own).

"We"re going for a Total War version of what a anh hùng is," reiterates Russell. "Somebody toàn thân who"s excellent at what they vì, often a very formidable fighter, but not superhumans. You can find ways khổng lồ defeat them. They can"t just walk onto the battlefield alone and hold off 2,000 men by themselves. They actually bởi have sầu lớn have some backup & support."

The second prong of Total War"s battle fork are the aforementioned floating sheds - naval combat. Even though Japan was an island nation và was thus heavily reliant on the sea khổng lồ keep its population alive sầu, ship-to-ship combat was never as important as it was in the West.

While galleons were sailing across the oceans to the New World, the Japanese were floating about in oared vessels, conducting pseudo-land battles in their coastal waters. Because they use of oars, it"ll be easier to lớn get a grip on how ships move sầu. They aren"t in constant motion, so your ships can be told lớn go lớn a position, & they"ll row off and sit in one place.

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"We want to lớn make naval combat an important part of this project," says Russell. "Japan"s an isl& nation, so the sea is never far away. Naval combat is different in this period. We think we can make the naval battles a lot of fun.

"I think one of the key differences is the European naval battles we did in Empire were very much about who has got the biggest ship with the most guns. Whereas we"re able to lớn bring it much more into lớn play between different types of ships with different advantages against different kinds of enemies.

"The biggest new addition is that we"re putting lvà inkhổng lồ the naval battles, which adds a huge amount of tactical variety, improves the battlefield"s look, helps orient the player & makes battles a completely new experience."

Separate Wars

"We"re looking inkhổng lồ mechanics whereby you can launch assaults from the sea, but those really will be a campaign feature," says Brigden. "In battles you"re really fighting on the lvà, even though the sea may be there in the battlefield. We"re going to have lvà battles & we"re going lớn have naval battles, but they"re going khổng lồ be separate. There may be sea in the land battles & there may be lvà in the naval battles, but we are strictly separating the concepts."

All these things are well & good, but if the troops don"t have thebackbone of solid artificial intelligence behind them, everything"s going khổng lồ fall apart quicker than Englvà during an Ashes demo match. AI has been a thorny issue throughout Total War"s existence, continually rearing its head every time a new iteration has come out. Now Creative sầu Assembly have sầu had enough of the complaining.

"We"re putting as much effort as possible inlớn making sure that AI will never be a subject that has to lớn be discussed again," bellows Russell. It"s a bold clayên, one that, if honesty is the policy to be stuck khổng lồ, has been uttered before & hasn"t always tallied with what"s happened in the games. It will definitely, positively, completely be different this time around.

"To give you an idea of what focus that gets on development," Brigden continues, in a less bellowing fashion, "We have what we điện thoại tư vấn a number of hygiene factors, which are the absolute critical must-get-rights for this game to go out the door, và the AI has been added to that list with an extremely high precedent. So exactly as Jamie said, we won"t get lớn a situation where we are having AI criticised in any capathành phố, & it is our intention to prove that before release."

New Brains

If the AI is solid - or solid enough to lớn prevent all but the most obsessive sầu getting irate - Creative Assembly can concentrate on pushing the atmosphere of the game, the feel of being in a distant, foreign lvà, a place that"s so different to lớn what we"re used to, it"s like a new world.

The graphics engine won"t be a vast leap forward from Empire"s, lượt thích the move from Medieval to lớn Rome was, but the battlefields will feel and look far more detailed than in previous games, & because of the lack of familiarity the vast majority will have with medieval Japan, the developers are eager khổng lồ really go khổng lồ town on a more vivid, colourful world & are also trying to bring a true feel of what it means lớn be a daimyo in Sengoku-period nhật bản.

"One of the things that"s very important khổng lồ this project is that we really want lớn delve sầu deeply into the feeling of the time," Brigden concurs. "What that means is a real importance for your daimyo, for your family members, & we really want to make character & story a much more significant part of the feel of the game than it has been in the past, & we"re doing a number of different things lớn achieve sầu that.

"On the chiến dịch bản đồ we"re adding some features that help the player get lớn grips with understanding the stories that they"re creating as they"re playing the game, because each Total War chiến dịch is really a player writing their own history."In terms of the characters, we"re wanting to make sure that the players have sầu some real choices in how they develop their abilities. For example the generals, the new agents that we"ve sầu got, all of those types of characters, we"re making sure we"re going khổng lồ give the player the choice to lớn develop them in the way they want to lớn develop them.

"Where in the past it was purely about the trait system which gave sầu these characters their particular skills as a result of certain actions, we are now wanting to lớn make those choices much more explicit. Basically, get the player much more invested in all the characters that they are playing with."

There"s one more question that needs asking - why go for Shogun 2 rather than Rome 2, the latter being by far the more obvious choice? It"s basically because, as was said earlier, this is the game Creative Assembly have been itching to make for years, lớn put right what they thought went wrong with the first game, either due to lớn errors, misjudgments or just a plain lack of resources to achieve sầu what they wanted first time out.

"It"s something we"ve always wanted to lớn vì chưng. There were loads of things we weren"t able lớn vì the first time arowid và we wanted to lớn bring it to a who new audience. There are loads of people who never played the original game & we wanted to give sầu them something special & spectacular," Russell states."I think the period is so evocative sầu, there is so much that just makes it absolutely perfect for a Total War game," Brigden concludes. "It"s been so long since the original Shogun was released, we haven"t portrayed the huge battles between samurai armies ever before in a full 3 chiều engine."

This is also a game which promises i a mixture of visceral hand-to-hvà combat played out in a quality, colourful and exotic world that has never been seen before in this light.

Shogun: Total War was an extremely ambitious project way back in 2000, when Creative sầu Assembly were known for producing poor cricket games. Now they"re a big fish & they can choose to lớn vì what they want, they have sầu done so. Shogun 2 is an unexpected choice, but if everything goes lớn plan, it"s going to lớn be an excellent one.